Monday, June 25, 2012

Tea Cup Tuesday-Tips for Collectors

Hello all,
Welcome to Tea Cup Tuesday!

I love to go to the flea market or antique shop and look for tea cups.
When I find one I love, I have a certain way of checking it out before I get too excited about it.
I thought I might share the process I go through for some of you who are new to collecting, just in case it might be helpful and maximize your collecting pleasure! 

 (Here is a pretty Shelley I bought online, only to find it had a hairline crack!)

The first thing I do when a tea cup catches my eye, is to look at the price.
I have a number in my head I am willing to pay for a tea cup, if it is over that,
I put it back down : (   
Unless.....I so totally love it and think I may never ever in a million years see one like it again,
and then I may make an exception : )

Otherwise.....

Before I choose a tea cups for friend, family or personal pleasure....I begin a visual, auditory and tactile inspection of the cup:  

(This apple blossom pattern is by Salisbury...I loved this cup when I saw it, and was happy to bring it home.)

Are there any cracks, chips or blemishes? 
This seems like it would be an easy one to answer.
To check this out I use my index finger to trace the cup all around the rim, the handle, the sides, the foot, and the bottom, and inside with my eyes closed...and see if I feel any chips, cracks, blemishes or???


These two dark marks are raised and a little rough feeling to the finger.
I especially watch out for this kind of mark.These are in the bottom of the cup.



A little nubbly...right where you hold the handle, so you feel it every time!




 Visually inspect the cup for anything obvious...like this dark spot.


(Here is the hairline crack I found when I got home, on the apple blossom cup above...boo hoo!)

Hold it by the handle and ping gently with finger.
If it pings, that is a good sign. If it is a dull sound, maybe not...check for cracks again.

Hold up to the light and look for signs of a crack.
It may look like a slightly darker line, or even a lighter line.
I have seen some that look like someone tried to repair it.

 (Here in the bottom of the pretty Shelley.....is the crack!
Couldn't see it on eBay, but....I should have known as the cup only sold for $15
...this may be one of those "too good to be true" stories!)

Is it balanced?
Some times I will excitedly grab a cup I see, do my check but forget to do this step,
only to find out when I get home it is wobbly. 
Look to see if the cup sits fully on the saucer....does the saucer rock rock on the table surface?
Sometimes I will even see a cup that is crooked. 

Do the backstamps match?
I have ended up surprised after arriving home to see they are not!  
And do you care?
I don't always, but I like it better if they do.
It may indicate that a piece was replaced...or even that the two pieces are not even the same pattern or company, but someone thought they looked really good together.
I bought a demitasse cup set once that was like this, one piece from France and one from Germany.



 See?


 But the set looks lovely together!


 I was so busy looking at the pretty cup....I probably only looked at the one backstamp.


Whoever matched them up did a fine job!

 Now I take my information and I compare my findings to the price, the age of the cup, and the personal value to me as in a special pattern I have been looking for, how rare they may be... and then I decide whether or not to purchase it. And if I am totally in love with it....and the price is good, and I don't think I will be able to sleep that night if I do not bring it home.........I throw out all my investigations and buy it anyways!

Thank you so much for coming by for a visit!
I almost didn't make my post as I have been having computer issues this week...Gak!

Martha and I totally love hosting Tea Cup Tuesday and we love to come by and visit you all.
If you would like to play along, just go and create a post with a tea cup in it, and come back here and link up below with the URL to your post.

Hugs,
Terri

Giveaway JULY coming up soon!



39 comments:

KathyB. said...

I appreciate the tips you've posted here. So many times I have brought home a tea cup only to discover a flaw I had not noticed when I bought it.I might have still bought the teacup, but maybe not been willing to pay so high a price for flawed china.You're so right though, sometimes a piece just captures my heart and I have to own it!

Betty Stapleton said...

Hi Terri
Can't you return the cup n saucer you bought on ebay? At auctions, we place the cracked ones or chipped in job lots. Lately, the market is back up on the cups and saucers and I think it is because Iam trying to buy them. But unless they are special they go 2 for 2.00 to 5.00, but then I had to pay 20.00 for a gorgeous paragon the other night, will show at a later date. That was a pretty Shelley and the price is down on them too. Hopefully it will change. Thank you for sharing...

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Love those teacups - imperfections and all, Terri!

I have had it happen to me before too and it is so disappointing.

But a little flaw here or there is nothing compared to getting an expensive teacup or teapot in pieces en route. It makes me cry every single time. Well it's only happened a few times, horribly packed - ugh omg- but it is horrifying when it does happen!

Happy Tea Tuesday!

debi said...

Terri, your teacups are all so beautiful....even with their little imperfections.

Thanks for the wonderful and helpful tips!

Barbara F. said...

Hi Terri, love the header, and these tips are very helpful. I need to throw a little tea party soon so I can join you, xo

Sweet Pea said...

Hi Terri, thanks for a very informative post. Just the sort of thing I need as I've just started collecting. I've have learned a few things since I've started and yes sometimes you think you've done a thorough check only to get it home and....
What's worse is buying on line. Most of the on line buys I make are pick up only so I always request that I look before I commit. There have been some doozies!

Flora said...

:-D
Your conclusions are amazing!
Indeed it is precisely this: we disposal all the possible investigations and then we buy in any case, although chips, crooked handles, and trademarks of doubtful provenance!
I imagine you, to twist yourself sleepless in bed, haunted by a tea cup and saucer ... is the same for me!
I bought all my cups at auction, so I fully understand the concept of initial budget (which is constantly exceeded!), and bad surprises ... But there is to say that if you find reliable sellers, the risks are lower, even buying online, and sometimes the surprises are nice, because you open the box and find a treasure more precious than you waiting for.
I, now, I'm so excited because on Sunday I "won" (so to speak!) A fabulous tea trio that comes from England, and I hope that match the idea that I have done, but I know that I will be happy too if it has flaws :-)
Thanks for all your advice, they are really appreciated.
Mini lovely hugs
Flora

Micupoftea~ said...

Hello Terri! GREAT tips...thanks for the pointers. Sorry to hear you have computer problems. Enjoy the end of June. :)
shawn

Beth said...

Excellent post today. I have to use those kind of tips when I buy for my shop! Shelley tea cups are always the most expensive, good ones or bad. But they are so pretty.

Donna Heber said...

Hi Terri,

Wonderful pointers for beginner collectors. All of your antique teacups are lovely and the little imperfections add character.

Rosewalk Cottage said...

Very informative post Terri.Thank you for sharing. Have a nice day.
~Clara

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Hi Terri,
What a wealth of information you have shared with us. I never buy cups online. Maybe that is why my collection isn't overly big. I do like to see something and hold it first before I buy it. I bought a sugar bowl once online and the cover was cracked, not happy! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and tips; very helpful.

Blessings,
Sandi

Maria Andrade said...

Hi Terri,
You certainly shared some relevant tips for china collectors, which I loved reading!
As my favourites are antique cups, I don't usually mind if they aren't in mint condition, especially if they are a good maker and the price is good! ;)Your cups are beautiful!
Have a great week!
Hugs

suziqu's thread works said...

Hello Dear Terri
Such a pretty cup and saucer set but sadly not quite as perfect as you thought!
I have so enjoyed this post with all the most wonderful tips in what to look out for - thank you for sharing all that with us - so helpful. I would dearly love to come and join in one of these days when I am less busy but I love to come and admire!
Big hugs to you,
Suzy x

Brenda said...

Thanks for all the great wisdom in choosing a teaset. I am very new at this and would also like to know WHERE to find some of the awesome sets that most of you have. All are so beautiful and I am very much enjoying tea time and learning that tea is very important in a life.

I have noticed that Martha did not post for this weeks tea time. I missed seeing her this week. I do hope that she is in good health and that we will see her next week.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge of tea cups and I'm sure that it's very disappointing to discover a hair-line fracture on a lovely cup. Now you should make an awesome candle holder that will look just as lovely. I think I would find it hard to just throw it away...

Hugs,
Brenda

Linda said...

Great advice and information Terri! I really should take the time to photograph some of my cups and link up but summers are always so busy for me and I tend to spend much less time inside. I love looking for finds at flea markets, garage sales, auctions and antique sores. I prefer to be able to touch my pieces before deciding since my space is becoming very limited :)

The Tablescaper said...

Love the tips. Great idea and tips.

- The Tablescaper

Snap said...

Thanks for all the tips, Terri. I don't mind a small flaw if I'm in love with the cup ... I figure it really fits me ... flawed I am!!! :D :D Happy Tea Day!

khess136 said...

What a lovely, informative post, dear Terri! I've begun collecting (again) as my girls and their friends have struck a new interest in tea parties. This information is helpful and much appreciated!
Have a beautiful week!
xoxo
Karen

Christine LeFever said...

Interesting criteria. Perfection? Alas, I buy chipped and cracked and faded and patched, but then I only buy at estate sales and if I think they're simply beautiful. I never use them other than for looks. My favorites are all pre 20th century.

One local friend plants hens into her not-so-perfect tea cups and they are adorable adorning her yard here and there.

Trish said...

I wanted to enter but I don't have a blog... don't care to have one. Enjoyed todays Teacup Tuesday.

Kathryn Ross said...

Terri - I am totally printing out this little tutorial on teacup buying. You have taught me sooo much - and I am keeping my eyes peeled for one of those nifty identification catalogs you found at a yard sale! I love history so knowing a little more about a piece for me is golden - but mostly the info I find online when I google the backstamp is nothing but EBay!

Anyway - thanks for the tips. I must say, teacups need to speak to me, too. And, I have paid a bit too much for a well loved piece on occasion. But, aren't the deals the best!

Joy!
Kathy

Createology said...

Terri Dear your tea cups are each and every one lovely. I have enjoyed very much reading your tips and techniques for successful acquiring. Experience is the very best teacher. Blissful collecting...

Mama Zen said...

This is really helpful!

Linda M. said...

Hi Terri, Thank you so much for sharing your tea cup purchasing tips. I'll be taking you (your advice) with me whenever I go shopping for a tea cup. Hope to do that soon. Joyous Wishes, Linda

Antiques And Teacups said...

Hi Terri...I need to do some corrections of your info. Much that you say is dependent on county of origin, material and age. The black spots are kiln dust or mineral deposits and are quite normal in 19th century early bone china and porcelain and is not really a flaw. In some cases, even the best manufacturers like Minton(s), Copeland and Spode had these normally. The same for bumps under the glaze. Foreign manufacturers are also more likely to have that.

The "ring" of hitting it with your finger is actually better with a pencil, but doesn't work at all on a lot of shapes...including Shelley Gainsborough, many pedestal cups and other specific shapes.

Occasionally there are black or paint spots that look like flaws on hand painted items but on looking closer you see that they were done by the artist during the decorating and aren't flaws.
A lot of good starter points though!

I have gotten teacups and missed hairlines as well...very disappointing!
Ruth

June said...

I always learn so much from you Terri. This cup is such a pretty one, even with it's imperfection.
hugs from here...

Lucille said...

Thanks so much, Terri, for the lesson! I appreciate it! I had no idea how to judge the merits of a cup and saucer having never collected them. But I love to learn new things and it will be fun when I go to a flea market or even an estate sale and look at cups and saucers, I will know what to look for. We're never too old to learn, right? I know you agree with that! By the way, that first cup with the pink rim, I'm in love with it. It's the pink rim that did it! It's gorgeous!

Sherry said...

Terri,
Lots of good info here. Lovely cup! Thank you for hosting!
Sherry

Johanna said...

Hi Terri,
your tipps are really helpful for building a real collection. A collection start often unnoticed. You get one piece, find another nice and somebody make you a gift: a collection is born. Sometime we make mistakes with the first pieces and buy them much too expensive. All the little ponts, nubbles and damages must reduce the price. Otherwise one will feel sorry in the end. But your cups are beauties and I think you enjoy them, even when they have a little flaw. They are ancient collectibles and I always love to see them. Thank you for the helpful informations and for hosting this wonderful party.
Best greetings, Johanna

Anne Payne said...

Thank you for sharing such good tips on purchasing a tea cup! Sometimes I miss a little crack or blemish, but I don't usually mind. I'm just happy to rescue the poor piece from going in the trash. Love the cup as it is so dainty and feminine!

Two Cottages And Tea said...

Hi Terri,
Thank you so much for posting about what to look for when buying used teacups. I'm in the mood for more teacups and am on the hunt! Thanks for hosting your lovely party and making Tuesday a special day of the week.
Nancy

Kathy A Delightsome Life said...

Hello Terri,
This is wonderful information! I had not thought to do all these things - my heart goes way before any common sense! I'll feel like an intelligent shopper next time!
I appreciate you hosting and sharing,
Kathy

Magnolia Cottage said...

Hi Terri,
Thanks for sharing your knowledge & skills on purchasing teacups. I found it very helpful as I am new at collecting but really enjoy the thrill of the finding beautiful teacups at great prices. Your teacup is very pretty. I never thought of checking for wobbling teacups. I have examined them for hairline cracks. Thanks again for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings,
Lisa

Zinnia said...

Lovely pastel teacup. Shelley is one of my absolute favorites. Your Salisbury cup has a very fine ear with its tinted gold. Good advice when buying porcelain. I've missed the cracks and become as sad every time. Bless you! Zinnia

janice15 said...

Boy sure wish I had this information a week ago...I just did the same thing. I didn't read the description for some silly reason and I didn't see a hair line crack...but it wasn't too much and I don't mind to much..But this is great information to remember. I'm your newest follower. come by and visit some time...@spoonwither.blogspot.com... thank you for sharing...have a great Sunday with love Janice

Cindy F. Adkins said...

Thanks so much for the tips! I have bought a cup or two that had a hairline crack, but I paid so little for them and loved the pattern, so I got them anyway. These are good things to know, though. Thanks!
Cindy

Victoria said...

Wonderful and pretty cups..gorgeous..and fabulous informative post...you are awesome Terri!
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead!
Victoria

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