One of the biggest pitfalls for an individual attempting to do research on antiques is that they have no idea of the sites that are known for unrealistic pricing. They find a price that pleases or surprises them (sometimes both) and assume it to be correct. After all, it’s posted online, therefor it must be true – right?
A case in point: Above is a cream and sugar set by the well-known, high quality china company, Paragon. The marks on the bases identify the pieces as being manufactured around 1919. This was when the Star China Company (note the star in the mark) amalgamated with, and was subsequently established as Paragon China.( I found it interesting that the latter was later bought by Thomas C Wild Company – the makers of the ubiquitous Royal Albert china.)
Marks on the base of an object are important because it tells us when it was made. Sets of dishes were often purchased over many years and the marks can vary drastically. Few people could afford to buy an entire set all at once. Checking to see if the marks are similar is necessary to ensure you are comparing similar objects. China pieces can look identical until you read their marks.
This lovely pattern, Cyclamen, was often seen on tea sets. I found a cup and saucer in this same Art Deco design online and it’s here that things get crazy.
You will note that the handle of the creamer is not typical; it’s a flower. Though this would make it difficult to hold, it is, nevertheless, the type of detail for which collectors are prepared to pay a premium. On different sites, I found cups and saucers in the same pattern but with an ordinary “‘C’ handle. The average retail price for these was between $25 and $30.
Next, I researched these teacups but with the flower handle. Over 5 separate sites, I found the prices averaged between $250 and $300. A big jump, but such a detail was apparently unusual enough to charge these prices.
BUT, the clincher was when I found another site that was advertising the exact cup and saucer. Their price? $695!! This price belongs on Mars! Yes, an inexperienced researcher would be thrilled to find this kind of information and would assume that the value was realistic – only to be massively disappointed when they came to sell it.
For more information on Paragon China, check out this site: