How can you tell if pottery is antique?

To determine if pottery is antique, you should look at its construction, shape, weight and decoration. Antique pottery is often more delicate than modern pottery because it was made using techniques no longer used today. 

For example, antique pottery may be thinner, or it may have been fired at a lower temperature. Antique pottery is also more likely to have been repaired than modern pottery. 

If you see any repairs that don’t match, it may be antique. Additionally, antique pottery often has a unique glaze or design that can’t be replicated. If you’re still unsure if your pottery is antique, you can ask an expert.

You can identify the type of clay of your pottery by looking at the following:

  • -The color of the pottery
  • -The texture of the pottery
  • -The weight of the pottery
  • -The shape of the pottery
  • -The decoration on the pottery

The above factors can help determine if your pottery is antique or modern. If your pottery is red, for example, and has a rough texture, then it’s likely made from terracotta clay, which was used in ancient times. 

If your pottery is extremely heavy and shaped like a vase, it’s likely, made from stoneware clay, which was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

By familiarizing yourself with the different types of clay, you will be better equipped to identify antique pottery.

ANTIQUE POTTERY: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Has it been repaired: 

Antique pottery is sometimes repaired with materials that are no longer in production. You can tell if a pottery piece has been repaired by looking for mismatched colors or materials. Check to see if the piece is less durable than other pieces of pottery. See if the piece is unbalanced or doesn’t sit evenly on a surface. Look for cracks that have been repaired with different materials than the original pottery. See if the piece has been glued back together.

Construction: 

Antique pottery is often more delicate than modern pottery because it was made using techniques that are no longer used. For example, antique pottery may be thinner. One of the easiest ways to identify an antique pottery piece is its shape. 

Shape: 

Antique pottery is also more likely to be shaped differently than modern pottery. It may be more rounded or bulbous or have unusual proportions. Most antique pottery pieces are either vase-shaped or bowl-shaped. Comparing the shape and decorations may help you identify the age.

Decoration: Antique pottery is often decorated with intricate designs that are no longer in production. These designs can be used to help date the pottery.

Glaze: 

Antique pottery often has a unique glaze that can’t be replicated.

Type of Clay

The earliest type of pottery is called “earthenware.” Earthenware is made from clay that has been fired at a low temperature, typically around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of pottery typically has a rough texture and is not very durable.

The next type of pottery is called “stoneware.” Stoneware is made from clay that has been fired at a high temperature, typically around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of pottery is much more durable than earthenware and can be used for cooking.

The latest type of pottery is called “porcelain.” Porcelain is made from clay that has been fired at an even higher temperature, typically around 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of pottery is the most durable and is often used for dishes and other decorative items.

By knowing the type of pottery, you can narrow down the period.

For example, if you have an earthenware pot, you know it was made before 2000 BC. If you have a porcelain dish, you know that it was made after 1700 AD.

While these are general guidelines, there is some overlap between different types of pottery. So, it’s always best to use other clues, such as decorations or markings, to help identify a piece.

Signatures: Many antique potteries include the signature of the artist, which can be a great help when identifying pottery 

Recommended books that can help date antique pottery are:

If you’re interested in learning more about antique pottery, these books are a great place to start. Not only do they provide information about how to identify antique pottery, but they also offer historical context on different styles and periods.

You may also enjoy our recent article, Is collecting pottery a hobby?

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