Frances Osborne Austin TXFinding Value: A Quick Guide to Buying Pottery at an Estate Sale

By Lisa Arias | Submitted On May 30, 2013

Pottery is very common to find at estate sales and can sometimes be one of the most overlooked items of value. Knowing what to look for when picking out pottery is very important if you plan to start collecting or reselling pottery.

One of the first things you will want to identify is exactly what type of pottery you are looking at. Pottery comes in a variety of different types, styles, sizes and is differentiated by their firing temperature, the forming method and the type of decoration. You might be wondering why the firing temperature is relevant at all, but it does offer a clue to what the strength, durability and hardness of the piece is. Low firing temps will result in bright colors, but less durability and weaker strength.

Identifying valuable pottery can also be done by looking at the trademark often found on the bottom of the piece. An artist or maker will often stamp or paint their name or initials on the bottom to brand it as their own. There are several online sites that help you identify the makers marks, for example, a piece of sought after Roseville pottery would have a large letter "R" with a small letter "v" nestled within it. Simply use your mobile device or a book on pottery markings to check the piece you are looking to buy.

Checking the appearance and condition of the pottery is important. Missing pieces, cracks or chips could substantially decrease value of the pottery, but keep in mind that some older pottery may have small cracks or crazing that is a normal part of age that should not concern you.

Some of the most well known pottery makers in the United States include Roseville, which originated in Ohio and was produced from 1890 to 1954. Roseville pottery is usually colorful and plastered with decorations such as flowers. McCoy pottery is also one you should keep an eye out for as it is highly collectible. Production of McCoy pottery began in 1910 in Ohio, and pieces such as planters, vases and cookie jars are hunted after by buyers. McCoy pottery is not always marked, but the pieces that are may include marks such as "NM USA," "McCoy USA" or simply "McCoy" on the bottom. Hull pottery is also well known and was produced from 1905 to 1986. It was usually colorful with various layered glazes. It's pretty easy to identify in that the Hull markings on the bottom are pretty easy to pick out.

It can be difficult to estimate the exact value of collectable pottery, but a quick search on eBay can give you a better idea of what price you may be able to grab a piece of pottery for or get for it in resale value. Estate sales usually offer a preview day, so if pottery is something that you are on the hunt for, take notes and do some research then come back and try to haggle the seller for a better deal. But take note that well known pottery will have a market value, so you may have to pay a pretty penny if you really want it.

Check out for local estate sales in your area.

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