Antique China Patterns Identification & Value (Full Guide)

China patterns have always ruled the world of pottery with their unique culture and nature-inspired designs. But the designs that we see today are way different and less interesting than old China patterns from the 17th, 18th, or even 19th centuries!

In fact, it is through the patterns that we can identify antique China’s golden history and estimate its value in today’s market. So, I’m going to show you all the features to spot real antique China patterns and find the best value for them! Because who knows, your grandmother’s old and boring dining ware might be worth a fortune!


  • Floral Danica, Blue Willow, and Ming Dragon Red are valuable antique china patterns ranging between $20 to $500, but limited pieces may go beyond 3 digits. 
  • Antique china patterns manufactured by reputable brands, like Portmeirion’s Botanic Garden or Deruta’s Raffaellesco, hold a higher value.
  • Specific patterns, such as the flying dragon on Ming Dragon Red and the special Danish flower on Flora Danica, are vintage and more expensive.  
  • The earliest China patterns were simple, hand-painted floral or landscape patterns in dark blue color. 
  • Bone china patterns designed by specific artists, like Vera Wang Wedgwood or William Edward England, have a high value. 

What Makes Antique China Patterns Stand Out?

Valuable Blue & White China Patterns

Antique china patterns incorporate artistic designs, including people, especially ladies, animal images, floral patterns, and other intricate motifs. But here are some other features you may specifically find on antique china patterns:

  • Made using porcelain or fine bone china, the latter being more expensive. 
  • Designed primarily on off-white or creamy white china. 
  • Earliest patterns with bold blue and red colors.
  • Commonly has gold-plated edges or specific trims, depending on the brand. 
  • Patterns with specific images like Asian motifs, flower species, women, and animals. 
  • The items have distinct characteristics like high translucency, fine texture, or high-pitched tones when gently tapped. 

The Unique History of Antique China Patterns

The first-of-its-kind ceramic was made from a special clay called kaolin, first found in China during the Yuan Dynasty around the 1280s. Around this time, the China items featured blue and white patterns.

Around the late 16th century, western artisans and craftsmen slowly started the production of their own ceramics and referred to it as porcelain. By then, China patterns had more intricate designs like dragons, phoenixes, flowers, and birds.

Then, around the mid-18th century, the most translucent and lightweight type of porcelain, bone china, originated in England. The China of this era featured colors and detailed patterns of Asian landscapes as well as court life scenes. With the rise of European porcelain, some patterns may also have a European touch.

During the 19th Century, romantic, floral antique china patterns became popular alongside transferware. Moving towards the artistic side, the Art-Nouveau era brought more patterns with stylized flowers, plants, and female forms.

The late 19th and mid-20th centuries saw china patterns with geometric shapes, streamlined forms, and bold colors, reflecting the modern, machine-age aesthetic. You may also find minimalist, abstract patterns with a limited color palette. But these patterns are less popular among collectors!

The Most Popular Types of Antique China Patterns

There are many varieties of antique china patterns, but we have picked the most collectible types for you with their base prices.

1. Blue Willow Pattern

Blue Willow, an 18th-century collectible, is distinguished by its legendary blue design on white china porcelain. One of the most valuable china patterns to date, its designs comprise a willow tree, people, teahouse, bridges, fence, boat, pagodas, places, etc., all covered in a magical blue hue.

Besides, it is lightweight and has a softer glaze, and is usually priced between $10 to $400 for a single unit and more for sets.

2. Ming Dragon Red Pattern

Meissen’s Ming Dragon Red features the classic design of flying Chinese dragons in red color on white porcelain and is outlined by a magical golden trim. You can also spot Meissen’s back stamp (crossed swords) at the bottom of the china.

This 18th-century classic pattern is priced between $120 and $2000 for a single unit and $200 – $5000 for a set or collection.

3. Botanic Garden Pattern

A beautiful showcase of botanical illustrations, this antique china pattern was created by a renowned British pottery company, Portmeirion, in 1972. Its nature-inspired motifs with intricate detailing and lively colors make Botanic Garden a beloved china pattern, especially amongst the Koreans.

You will also see a leafy wine pattern around the rim of your plates, jugs, or even mugs. The estimated cost of a single unit is between $40 – $200 for single units, and $20 – $500 for a set or collection.

4. Raffaellesco Pattern

This exquisite china pattern represents the rich heritage of Italian craftsmanship with its golden dragons on white china. Floral motifs like leaves, wings, fruits, and other intricate patterns sprinkled with yellow hues also mark Raffaellesco’s classic pattern.

Introduced in the 16th century, this finely textured pattern may cost you around $20 to $700, as per the item or set.

5. Flora Danica Pattern

The intricate floral patterns of Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica are hand-crafted with limited production, which makes every piece special and valuable.

Its colorful artwork represents the Danish flora, showcasing different flowers from the 18th century, and topped by copper prints on the edges and rims. One of the most luxurious porcelain items of all time, its price ranges between $250 to $15,000.

6 Factors to Identify & Appraise Antique China Patterns

Now, let’s find out which factors can help you spot a vintage china pattern with its right resale value!

1. Popular Antique China Material

Vintage China Pattern Cups & Saucers

Bone China is the most expensive antique china type as it is lightweight and translucent. Hard-paste and soft-paste porcelain, however, have their own special features you can identify and value them with. Let’s take a look:

Antique China Type Specific Features Estimated Costs (Single Units)Estimated Costs (Set or Collection)
Fine Bone China (mid-18th century)Translucent, fine texture, thin & lightweight, low-pitched sound when tapped, creamy white or ivory, edged metallic rims$70 – $500 $150 – $5000
Hard-paste porcelain (7th – 8th century)Grayish white, high-pitched tone when gently tapped, heaviest type, opaque, made of kaolin, ground alabaster and/or quartz$30 – $130 $70 – $400
Soft-paste porcelain (Late 16th century)Pure white, made of local clay from France, smoother, more brittle, identical to bone or fine china, used in European pottery $50 – $2500$300 – $8000

2. Antique China Patterns Age & Dating

Different Antique China Patterns

You can trace the age of vintage china patterns with their colors, design specifics, as well as finishes. For instance, the earliest China had simple blue & white patterns.

But during the 17th and 18th centuries, different floral, dragon, and scenic patterns with ringed edges became popular on creamy-white or ivory bone china.

That’s not it! The table below shows how you can spot china patterns from different eras:

Timeline Specific Features Estimated Costs(Single Units) 
Pre-18th Century (1400s – 1600s)Blue floral and landscape patterns, creamy-white china, transferware$20 – $1300
18th Century (1700s)Hand Painted multicolor court life scenic patterns, floral designs, gold or silver ringed edges$30 – $1800
19th Century (1800s)Pastel colors, detailed patterns like figural, court life scenes, phoenix, etc on creamy white or ivory material$40 – $1000
Early to Mid-20th Century (1900s-1950s) Intricate floral and court life designs, female forms, machine-made streamlined shapes, bold colors$15 – $900
Late 20th Century (1950s onwards)Minimal, simple abstract patterns, limited color palette with bold & pastel shades, black & other colored backgrounds$20 – $200

3. Popular Antique China Brands

Antique China Pattern Dishes Collection

Meissen, the first European factory to produce hard-paste porcelain, is known for its iconic Ming Dragon Red collection. You can confirm the antique pattern by checking the firm’s logo on the bottom.

Here is the list of some in-demand China brands with tips on how you can identify them by checking the back stamps or logos.

Antique China Patterns Brands Specific Markings Estimated Costs (Single Units Estimated Costs(Set or Collection)
Noritake (Late 19th century)‘Noritake Ivory or Bone China’ inscribed at the bottom, the firm’s logo ‘N’ in the middle of a flower bouquet, JAPAN embossed below the logo, known for its Royal Orchard collection $20 – $300$70 – $300
Meissen Porcelain (Early 18th century)Firm’s logo on the bottom (looks like crossed swords), manufacturer of the iconic Ming Dragon Red collection$10 – $100$100- $30,000
Spode (Late 18th century)‘Spode Bone China (or collection name) at the bottom, Firm’s logo, ENGLAND, Pattern date, etc embossed below the logo, known for  Blue Willow and Christmas Tree collection $10 – $1100$ 100- $5000
Johnson Brothers (Late 19th century) ‘Johns Bros England’ is written at the bottom, along with the firm’s unique logo $10 – $400$20- $500
Wedgwood (mid-18th century) ‘Wedgwood’ inscribed at the bottom with the firm’s logo (variety), trademark no. and manufacturing year, the collection also includes Vera Wang’s artwork $15 – $500$30 – $5000
Royal Worcester (Mid- 18th century)Firm’s name & logo, manufacturing year & place, pattern name & number at the bottom, gold edges$15 – $200$20 – $3000
Portmeirion (20th century)Firm’s name, collection’s name including the popular Botanic Garden pattern with the manufacturing year,  embossed at the base, exhibit Sophie Conran’s artist collection $20 – $300$30 – $300
Royal Copenhagen (Late 18th century)Brand name circling the crown-shaped logo at the bottom with three wavy lines and Denmark, signature, the luxurious Flora Danica is its signature collection$10 – $500$300 – $1200 

The earliest China patterns may not have a logo or back stamp, but it doesn’t mean they’re fake. Consult a professional appraiser if you don’t find a logo in your china.

4. Antique China Items

Flora Danica, known for its luxurious range of dinnerware and serve ware, comprises bowls, platters, coffee and teacups, dishes, and more.

This table tells you about antique china patterns’ tableware, so you can not be fooled into buying a Ming Dragon’s spoon when it’s not a part of the collection.

Antique China Pattern Antique China Patterns’ Items Estimated Costs (Set or Collection)
Blue Willow Dinnerware,glassware,  serve ware, & flatware. $60 – $1000
Ming Dragon Red Luxury dinnerware, glassware, & serve ware.  $250 – $5000
Flora Danica Dinnerware, flatware, & serve ware. $50 – $700
Botanic GardenDinnerware, flatware, glassware, barware, & serve ware. $30- $500
Raffaellesco Dinnerware, glassware, serve ware, stemware, & barware.$35 – $300

5. Antique China Patterns Edging and Motifs

A Tea Set with Antique China Patterns

Most antique fine bone china patterns have some form of embossed or scalloped edging, including gold and silver rims and black or copper edges, which are quite telling of their age. On the other hand, the newer patterns are planer with clean shapes and colored rims due to the high cost of metals.

6. Antique China Pattern Colors

From the classic flow blue of Blue Willow to the red hues of Ming Dragon’s flying dragons, one can tell a lot about antique china patterns via their vivid colors. For instance, the earliest China patterns had limited colors like blue and red.

But 18th-century Flora Danica designs usually exhibit vivid shades, like red flowers with green leaves, whereas Botanic Garden sparkles in pastel colors. Pastels marked the beginning of the early 20th century, but towards the late-20th century, bright colors were being used.

What if My Antique China has no Back Stamp? Is it Still Antique?

Some very early pieces of China pottery do not bear a back stamp, in which case, you should consult a professional appraiser to learn about the antique and its pattern.

How to Clean My China?

Use a mild cleaning agent with warm water to clean your china items. To remove stains, use the cleaning agent with water and vinegar or baking soda. Clean it with a soft towel and store it in a glass-front container to avoid dust.

Is Porcelain and ‘China’ Material the Same?

Porcelain and china can be used interchangeably, as Americans and Europeans refer to fine pieces of porcelain as ‘china.’

We hope this article helped you learn a thing or two about antique china pattern identification. So, the next time you come across your grandmother’s bone china dinnerware, check its back stamp, and if you don’t find one, we have trained you well to know what to do.

If you’re curious to learn more about pottery patterns, hop on to our detailed guides on rare Corningware Patterns and Antique Corelle Patterns now.

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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