Packaging Pottery and Porcelain for Shipping

Make Sure Those Pricey Earthenware and Ceramic Antiques Arrive Safely

Sitzendorf Porcelain Figurine
Sitzendorf Porcelain Figurine. Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions

Packing antique pottery and porcelain for shipping can be a tricky proposition whether you’re selling online or trying to get an heirloom to a family member safely. With some preparation and care, however, shipping items ranging from an inexpensive piece of Shawnee pottery to a rare Amphora vase or pricey piece of R.S. Prussia can be accomplished successfully.

How to Package Pottery and Porcelain Securely

Some trouble spots when shipping pottery and porcelain include handles of all kinds and spouts on teapots and coffee pots. To provide extra protection for these easily damaged areas, it’s a good idea to wrap them individually with bubble wrap secured with packing tape. Then wrap the entire piece with another sheet of bubble wrap taped securely in place.

However, don’t make a “mummy” out of the object with overzealous packing. The harder it is for the recipient to remove the packaging you employed to keep it an object safe, the more likely it will be will be scratched or chipped as the packing materials are cut away.

After it’s sufficiently wrapped in bubble wrap, place the item in a sturdy cardboard box not too much larger than the item being shipped. Then surround the piece with packing material such as foam peanuts, bubble wrap or plenty of crumpled paper, taking care to make sure the item does not move around in the box before sealing it with packing tape.

Place that box inside another larger one, and surround it with more packing material. Make sure the inner box is surrounded with enough packing material so that it does not move around within the larger container.

If you feel like the piece you’re sending doesn’t require quite as much babying as the box-within-a-box method described above affords, at the very least, put the securely bubble wrapped item in the middle of an over-sized box and surround it with packing material.

Make sure there are at least six inches of cushion between the object and all sides of the box. Also, make sure there’s enough packaging in the box to keep the breakable content from moving even a little bit during shipping.

Label the box with the address taking care to tape over the writing or label to make sure it doesn’t run and become illegible if dampened in route to the recipient. If you’re not including an invoice or business card in the box, be sure to write a note with your “return to” address on it and insert it in the box in case the label gets damaged and the shipper inspects the contents to determine where the package originated.

In summary, follow these steps for securely packing antique pottery and porcelain for shipping:

1. Wrap the item securely. Carefully wrap any protruding handles or spouts with bubble wrap secured with packing tape. Then wrap the entire object in another sheet of bubble wrap and tape to secure. But, avoid over taping and creating a “mummy” that will be difficult for the recipient to cut open.

2. Prepare the inner box. Place the bubble wrapped item within a sturdy box not too much larger than the object itself. Place packing materials (as noted above) around the object so that it does not jostle around in transit, and then tape the box shut.

3. Prepare the outer box. Put the smaller box inside a larger cardboard box and surround it with more packing materials to keep it from moving around during shipment.

4. Place identification in the package. Place either an invoice with a return address, business card, or “return to” note including your address within the box prior to sealing it in case the address on the outside of the box becomes illegible as the package makes its way through the shipping process.

5. Seal the box. Seal the outer box securely with durable packing tape. Make sure the bottom edges of the box are taped as well as the top.

6. Label the box. Label the box with the complete address taking care to tape over the writing or stick-on label. Don’t forget to include your return address on the outside of the box.

Learn more:

How to Pack and Ship Antiques Safely