Porcelain figurines are one of those collectible categories where quality and value can vary tremendously. Many modern figurines are mass produced and can be purchased in stores, flea markets, or thrift shops for a few dollars. Yet if you have a good eye for particular makers, that dusty Goodwill find might just be worth a lot more than what you paid for it.
Whenever I evaluate a porcelain figurine for sale, one of the first things that I do is to lift it up and look at the maker’s mark on the base. Many prominent porcelain manufactures will have signed or stamped their wares,and the mark may not only tell you the production company, it can reveal age, country of origin, and perhaps the finishing artist as well.
Although are some quite valuable porcelain pieces that come from China and Japan, I tend to focus more on European and American porcelain makers, as they tend to be easier to research. If the company’s name or initials can be read on the bottom, usually a quick web search can help you learn about the company and may help you date the piece. For pieces marked only with symbols, I’ve had luck entering a basic description into Google and doing an image search. If you still can’t locate your maker, there are some excellent pictorial reference books on porcelain marks that can help identify and date your piece.
After you’ve located the maker, it’s time to find comparable items that have sold, which can help provide an idea of the value of an item. You’ll want to be sure
to properly assess the condition of your figurine as well. Does it have any chips, cracks, or crazing (hairline cracks in the glaze)? Is it the same color and size as item that has sold? Does your piece stand alone or is it part of a set?
Hummel and Lladro figurines are regularly found for sale online, typically re-selling in the $20 to $100+ range (depending upon size, box availability, and rarity). More valuable collections may include pieces made by Herend (Hungary), Staffordshire (England), or Meissen (Germany), with pieces often selling for several hundred to a thousand dollars or more. Generally, the larger and/or more intricate the piece, the more valuable it may be.
A few summers back, a client asked me to look at a vintage porcelain figurine set that he had inherited from a relative. He had a magnificent set of Lipizzaner horse figurines from an Austrian manufacturer, which ended-up selling from around $200 (for the one missing a foot) to over $1400 each! So next time you’re dusting Mom’s old figurines in the curio cabinet, take a few minutes to turn them over and do a little research. You main gain a better appreciation for her collection afterwards.
The original article can be found in the July 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here: www.southernneighbor.com.