Maybe you're searching for a missing piece of your grandmother's bone china set, or maybe you have a few pieces of an old set, but cannot identify the pattern. Maybe it's just curiosity that has piqued your interest in a vintage or antique piece. Whatever the reason, before you can attempt a replacement search, you should identify the period and pattern, as well as the brand if possible.
Research Your China
Start looking at vintage sites, or if you have a keen interest and want to make this a hobby of sorts, there's a good assortment of books on vintage and antique china, glassware and more.
You might want to invest in two or three reference books, that you'll return to again in the future.
- Replacements.com is the world's largest and most authoritative site for information and pattern identification guides. They also have replacements for many patterns of china and much more.
- WikiHow.com: How to identify antique dinnerware
Shop For a Replacement
Replacements, Ltd. is an online resource for finding these lost pieces. They claim to have an inventory of 10 million pieces, which incorporates more than 200,000 patterns of old and new china, silver, and crystal. With such an extensive resource, this is certainly a great place to start your search. This company also has pattern identification and customer notification programs, as well as other services designed to help you find the piece you're looking for.
Have you searched popular tableware retailers? Many patterns your grandma had are still available in open stock (by the piece) from some retailers.
You might also find some completer pieces to round off your dinnerware. And of course, there's also online auctions and sellers to consider.
- RoyalAlbert.com for Royal Albert China Collections
- Antique Cupboard
Searching local flea markets and browsing at garage and yard sales may also reap some rewards.
If you're not familiar with bone china or you need a quick refresher on how to identify real China, check out my Is it Bone China? For a cool tip to use on your next flea market search.
Proper handling and care is key to protecting these treasured items and heirlooms. Here are some tips for caring for vintage china and tableware:
- Bone china though it has a certain amount of durability is still very fragile because it is thinner than other dishes. Washing by hand is recommended and handle one piece at a time, do not fill the sink with China.
- Antique China is not microwave safe, because of gold and metal trims.
- Do not use a dishwasher for washing vintage tableware. Harsh detergents can mar the finish as well as dull the colors and patterns.
- If storing, always place a plate insert, cloth or napkin between plates
With so many sources of information for making pattern identification and for buying replacement pieces, that maybe your dream of completing that old set can now become a reality.