Love Vintage and Antiques? Whether you’re a collector, first time buyer or seller…a little research goes a long way. It’s virtually impossible to know “everything” when it comes to buying and selling vintage and antiques. Although I’m sure that there are some antique dealers who could come very close to that mark. The point is, thorough research is key.
I started in this business a short 4 years ago and do most of my research online, the discrepancies that are found, especially over the past 2 years, have made me realize just how important it is to carry your research of an item, one step further. Additionally, a good reference book collection will back up your findings and offer pictures and information, not always found online.
A “Whimsical” generalist by nature, I tend to purchase items, for my shop, that catch my eye. My natural love of jewelry has made me knowledgeable in that area but with each new porcelain, glass, collectible purchase…I gain more knowledge in areas that are not my forte.
A recent purchase, made me realize just how confusing this game can be. While estate sale browsing, a set of porcelain was tagged “Meissen”. I know the name Meissen and a little of the background. These pieces seemed a little too “common” for Meissen, but the Fleur de Lis design (which I am always drawn to) and the fact that they were porcelain, gave me reason enough to purchase them with the knowledge that extensive research was probably in my future. I couldn’t remember that exact Meissen backstamp and didn’t know if they had changed throughout the years…but I took a chance. Needless to say, they are not Meissen but Arnart. Embarrassing? Maybe to some, but not to me…just another opportunity to learn about 2 companies that I wasn’t all that familiar with. The crossed arrows of early Arnart are similar to the crossed swords of Meissen, especially to someone who is not “in the know”.
My first stop is always
A wonderful place to compare your porcelain marks and wealth of information on company histories.
After that came long period of “Googling” to find all of the Arnart backstamps (and foil labels). As Arnart was not a manufacturer, but an importer…it doesn’t always lead to definitive answers – their products came from a variety of places with varying backstamps and labels. http://replacements.com is a good place to check your vintage china…as they have tremendous inventory and are quite knowledgeable – if you see your item there, with the corresponding backstamp, the odds are that you have the correct manufacturer…but other than that….How do you really know?…Good old fashioned detective work:) and what I love so much about this business.
Knowing the history of a company can give you insight into the backstamps…when did they first register a trademark? (and remember that most companies didn’t do this until the mid to late 1950s). What did they use prior to that and why?. How did the ownership change over they years?…with each new owner, there sometimes comes a change in design. These are all factors that need to be combined to come to an educated conclusion…and even then, it’s not always 100%.
If you’re buying a vintage or antique piece, check the hallmark or backstamp against a reputable site and not just another listing. The Vintage Village has compiled a good list of “Go To” spots for hallmark/backstamp identification…for anything from jewelry to porcelain and so much more – You will need to join the site but membership is free for buyers and if you’re a shop owner, I recommend getting the premium membership at $25.00 for 6 months, you really just can’t go wrong!
and to join the site, go to
In summary, as a new seller, maintain the integrity of these lovely treasures, by doing the extra research that is necessary. As a buyer, be careful…know the site that you’re buying from and looked for detailed and accurate listings. Most listings will show a picture of the backstamp or hallmark (for jewelry), compare that to one of the sites listed on The Vintage Village or in this post, for accuracy.
To name a few good reference sites off the top of my head….
Vintage Jewelry Hallmarks
Vintage Jewelry Company Histories
Japanese and Chinese Porcelain and Pottery Markings
I love this 20th Century Glass Site…Great info and lots of pics to help you identify your item
That should get you started but head over to The Vintage Village, if you’re need of additional info and if you are a shop owner on Ruby Lane…be sure to use their wonderful Research & Resources Board in the Shop Owner’s Forum Section.
Always remember that these treasures will never come this way again, to find pieces in excellent condition…is an honor, not to be taken lightly. Today’s vintage, is tomorrow’s antiques.
A gorgeous Meissen Compote from Litchfield Antiques on Ruby Lane
Thanks so much for reading!