Dating Porcelain & Glass

Very often customers at my brick and mortar shop will ask me how I know the date range of an item of porcelain or a piece of glass. The number one thing to remember when dating pieces is to look for the country of origin located in the area where the piece is marked. The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 had a clause attached to it that required countries to begin placing the country of manufacture on each item made. This was done for import/export purposes, as many goods were being shipped from country to country at that time. This universal requirement became known as the "universal country of origin regulation." This has become the standard "starting gate" for dating items. Therefore, if your great grandmother's hand painted porcelain dish that she got in a wedding shower bears no markings at all, one could assume with a high degree of accuracy that the piece is dated prior to 1891, the year of the McKinley Tariff Act.

However, since paper labels were introduced in the 1950's and quickly came into vogue, one must remember that a particular company could have used paper labels from that point forward. These paper labels were very often washed off and discarded, leaving the appearance that the piece is unmarked, when in fact it actually was marked with country of origin. And to further complicate the process, the use of the words "MADE IN" was incorporated into country of origin markings in the mid 1920's.

Simply stated, the above information is very helpful to me when I am trying to determine the approximate age of items, and I hope all Ruby Lane visitors and shop owners find it useful as well.

Lisa Stone
Steamboat Annie's Antiques

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