The 15 Most Valuable Antique Dishes in History

The lotus bowl, worth much more than $35.
The lotus bowl, worth much more than $35. (Source: CNN)

Do you ever wonder why the blue and white style antique dish is present in almost every household?

What makes this design stand out that causes every new brand to create a line featuring the same colors even after several centuries have passed? It’s more about the stories of the drawings than about the color itself, although they’re also relevant.

In March 2021, CNN reported that an antique Chinese dish bought for a measly $35 resold at a whopping $721,800 in a Sotheby’s auction.

Well, stories like this aren’t uncommon for antique dishes. People fail to appraise their inheritance. We forget there’s a reason our parents forbade us from touching certain dinner sets except on special occasions.

So, before disposing of that dinner set, your grandmother willed you; take a look at this list of the 15 most valuable antique dishes in history. You never know you may be the next Sotheby’s seller.

15 Most Expensive Antique Dishes

 No.
Antique Dish Brand
Year
Value
1
Qing Dynasty Porcelain
1644
$84 million
2
Blue & White Porcelain
801 A.D.
$21.6 million
3
Blood Red Porcelain
618
$9.5 million
4
Joseon Baekje Porcelain
1392
$4.2 million
5
Silverware
1715
$12 million
6
Meissen
1710
$15 million
7
Jingdezhen Jihong Porcelain
1271
$10 million
8
Sèvres
1738
£842,000
9
Flora Danica by Royal Copenhagen
1761
$80,000
10
Limoges
1781
$11,875
11
Baccarat Crystal Stemware
1764
$21,000
12
Wedgewood
1770
$1,300
13
Spode
1770
£950
14
Stoneware
1400
$936
15
Bing and Grøndahl
1853
$2,500

1. Qing Dynasty Porcelain

Year: c. 1644
Price: $19 million
Sold: $84 million
London auction house Bainbridges sold this 18th-century Chinese vase, discovered when an inherited house was cleared out, for about $84 million Cdn on Thursday. ((Bainbridge Auction House))
London auction house Bainbridges sold this 18th-century Chinese vase, discovered when an inherited house was cleared out, for about $84 million Cdn on Thursday. ((Bainbridge Auction House)) (Source: Cbc.ca)

The Qing Dynasty Porcelain used hard-paste, the highest-grade material ever to exist. It was one of the dinner sets restricted to Chinese royalty and noble use because the commoners couldn’t afford the cost of the high-quality materials used in production.

This antique dish is sturdy and weighty because of the bone ash contained in the fine china.

Fun Fact: Ten Qing Dynasty reign marks exist from 1644 – 1912; this includes the popular Kangxi porcelain.

2. Blue and White Porcelain

Year: c. 801 A.D.
Price: $21.6 million
Sold: $21.4 million
A Chinese vase from the early Ming period has been sold for $21.6m (£14m) - a world record at auction for any item of Ming porcelain.
A Chinese vase from the early Ming period has been sold for $21.6m (£14m) – a world record at auction for any item of Ming porcelain.(Source: bbc)

When you think of antique dishware, the blue and white patterned dinner set often is the first that pops in your mind. It’s in almost every home in America, Europe, and across the Atlantic Ocean.

The blue coloring from Cobalt oxide used to achieve the intricate details was more expensive than gold, earning it the top spot amongst the high society nobles.

The influence of the Blue and White porcelain style is so strong that Europeans imitated it in transferware to make it affordable for the masses. The blue inks tell a story of its originating country through human characters, flora, and fauna.

Fun Fact: Christie’s in London sold a Yuan-era jar for £15.7 million in 2005.

3. Blood Red Porcelain

Year: c. 618
Price: Price: $6 million
Sold: $9.5 million
A 17th Century Kangxi era Lotus Flower Blood Red Porcelain Bowl sold for $9.5 million at Sotheby’s
A 17th Century Kangxi era Lotus Flower Blood Red Porcelain Bowl sold for $9.5 million at Sotheby’s (Source: Luxuo)

Chinese superstition considers Red a prosperous color, so the Blood Red Porcelain antique dishes sell at premium values. Also, unlike the regular white ones, top skills and high-quality materials are required to produce this Red Porcelain.

However, when the Qing Dynasty fell, the technique for making this unique design died, making it an extremely rare find today.

A 17th Century Kangxi era Lotus Flower Blood Red Porcelain Bowl sold for $9.5 million at Sotheby’s

Fun Fact: Legend has it that a troubled woman Cuilan threw herself into a kiln turning the

Porcelain “blood red.” The potters thought her blood dyed the Porcelain earning the style a reputation amongst royals and nobles.

4. Jingdezhen Jihong Porcelain

Year: c. 1271
Price: $10 million
Sold: $10 million
A rare underglaze copper-red Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
An early Ming underglaze copper-red vase is displayed after it was sold for a world record of US$10,122,558 for any Ming porcelain during Christie’s “The Imperial Sale” auction in Hong Kong May 30, 2006. (Source:chinadaily)

This extremely rare Ming Dynasty porcelain was used for sacrifices during ritualistic ceremonies.

Its designs had sacred materials like Jade, Agate, and Pearls that fit nobles and royals, making them a high-value antique dish. Some limited-edition pieces added Qinghua (cobalt blue pigment) to the inner part of the antique dishes.

Fun Fact: Less than 100 existing Jihong Porcelains are left at Chinese museums except for unrecorded privately owned properties.

5. Silverware

Year: c. 1715
Price: $700,000 – $5 million
Sold: $7 million
George II Silver Coffee Pot $7 million
Christie’s London presents the most important coffee-pot ever to come to the market in The Exceptional Sale on 4 July 2013 (estimate: £3.5 million – 4.5 million). This Rococo masterpiece by Paul de Lamerie (1688–1751) – the greatest silversmith working in Britain in the 18th century – is expected to become the most valuable piece of English silver ever to be sold at auction. The George II silver coffee-pot was created in 1738, for a successful merchant. This exceptional piece of craftsmanship has recently been the centerpiece of the British Silver exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum in New York. (Source: Alaintruong.com)

Sterling silverware antique dishes typically with two handles were common during the Greek and Roman era.

Silversmiths handcrafted these silverwares with body carvings of animals and plants. They often came in sets making complete sets highly coveted, and most owners pass them through generations because of their durability.

Fun Fact: Sotheby’s sold a German Soup Tureen Silverware for $10 million in 1996.

6. Joseon Baekje Porcelain

Year: c. 1392
Price: $1.2 million
Sold: $4.2 million
Joseon Baekje Porcelain
The costliest Joseon object ever sold was a whiteware vase painted in cobalt blue. It was sold at $4.2 million US. (Source: Issuu)

This Korean-style porcelain antique dishware originated during the longest-ruling house’s – Joseon Dynasty – reign. It’s one of the oldest porcelain designs, transforming over five centuries.

Joseon Baekje antique dishes designs are often minimal with neutral color gradients although, they sometimes include the cobalt blue of the Blue and White porcelain style.

Fun Fact: An unpainted rare Joseon White Porcelain Jar sold $1.2 million in New York at Christie’s auction house.

7. Meissen

Year: c.1710
Price: $180,000
Sold: $15 million
The rare and prized pieces, stolen by Nazis and restituted by the Dutch government, fetch $15 million at Sotheby's
A rare Meissen armorial tea and coffee service, with sugar box dated 1731, sold for $1.35 million. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s. (Source: Artnet.com)

Meissen antique dishes are valuable because they include designs attributed to famous artists like Johann Kandler, Johann Horoldt, and Michael Victor Acier as one of the earliest Made in Germany, china pieces.

This antique dishware is a luxurious collectible. It represents German history and is often found in museums, so owning one in your home is priceless.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam displayed many Meissen porcelain pieces, including antique dishes, for sixty years until 2021, when it restituted (returning stolen property to the rightful owners) them to Oppenheimers’ heirs.

Fun Facts: Meissen antique dishes often exceed their initial estimate by a wide margin. A rare Meissen porcelain stolen by Nazis during WW II sold for $15 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

8. Sèvres

Year: c.1738
Price: £10,000 – £140,000
Sold: £842,000
Tureen with cover (Terrine épis de blé or épis en or et plateau)
Tureen with cover (Terrine épis de blé or épis en or et plateau) (Source: The MET Museum)

This 18th Century soft-paste brand started as a hobby for France’s King Louis XV.

It has a royal heritage because many of the first owners were royals who patronized the French king to seek his favor. That’s why it’s coveted today, as there’s a 99.9% chance an antique Sèvres dish was pre-owned by a noble.

The Sèvres antique dishes were notable for their bright blue shade – one of the most expensive pigments in the 1700s.

Fun Fact: When you hold a Sèvres antique dish up to the light, you can see a spectrum of colors reflect through its thin layers.

9. Flora Danica by Royal Copenhagen

Year: c. 1761
Price: $60,000 – $80,000
Sold: $62,500
Flora Danica by Royal Copenhagen
PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK LADY, A ROYAL COPENHAGEN PORCELAIN ‘FLORA DANICA’ DINNER SERVICE

The Flora Danica by Royal Copenhagen is a hard-paste design with intricately handcrafted gold detailing and designs. It’s a collector’s favorite because the first set had only 1,082 pieces custom-made for the Russian Empress Catherine II as a gift from King of Denmark, Frederik V.

The Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica is so luxurious and revered that even though it’s the only Golden age antique dish still in production, it’s only made on an order basis.

You should know that the floral designs on the antique dishes were hand-painted representations of the Botanical Flora Danica (Danish Flowers) Encyclopedia.

Fun Fact: American Talk Show Host Oprah Winfrey, Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, and many more notable people own a Flora Danica antique dish.

10. Limoges

Year: c. 1781
Price: $5000 – $7,000
Sold: $11,875
Limoges
PROPERTY FROM A NEW YORK COLLECTOR. A LIMOGES (RAYNAUD) PORCELAIN CORAL-GROUND PART DINNER SERVICE (Source: Christies

When the French found Kaolin (clay used for making hard-paste Porcelain) in the Limoges region of France, it changed their fortune tremendously.

King Louis XIV bought one of the budding factories to make exclusive porcelain dishes for his court, adding to its present-day appeal. Antique Limoges porcelain features unique hand-paintings from acclaimed artists like Franz Bischoff and Yayoi Kusama.

The value of Limoges antique dishes varies like every other brand’s based on certain factors like rarity, age, and pedigree.

Fun Fact: The 16th-century antique Limoges dishes command the highest value for serving the King and his Royal Court.

11. Baccarat Crystal Stemware

Year: c. 1764
Price: $900 – $1,100
Sold: $21,000
19TH C. BRONZE & BACCARAT CRYSTAL FIGURAL CENTERPIECE
19TH C. BRONZE & BACCARAT CRYSTAL FIGURAL CENTERPIECE (Source: Liveauctioneers

Baccarat Crystal is a premium glassware antique dish notable for its elegance and beauty. This clear crystal effortlessly captures the light spectrum, making your dinner set the focal point of any event.

The most decorated artists carefully curated each piece of Baccarat which is why they’re unique and often rare. It is also expensive because of the technique and high-quality materials used in creating the stemware.

If you don’t believe us, watch this video showing the manufacturing process. This antique dinnerware is perfect for every occasion, whether formal or personal.

Fun Fact: Baccarat Crystal antique dishes are paperweight – you won’t break any bones using them, unlike porcelain ceramics which weigh tons.

12. Wedgwood

Year: c. 1770
Price: $10 -$500
Sold: $1,300
This large collection of Wedgwood Florentine patterned dinner and tea ware sold for an astronomical £1600
This large collection of Wedgwood Florentine patterned dinner and tea ware sold for an astronomical £1600 (Source: Potteries Auction )

Wedgewood antique dishes come in multiple designs and colors based on their Art Nouveau influence. The earlier models have stately matte finishes and hand-carved decorations depicting humans and art.

If you’re into nature, you can buy the Victorian-era Majolica designs instead – they’re cheaper and easily accessible.

Collectors interested in high-end antique dishes can get one of the 1770 Jasperwares.

Fun Fact: Josiah Wedgewood (the founder) made a custom tea set for Queen Charlotte of Germany in 1765.

13. Spode

Year: c. 1770
Price: £30 – £100
Sold: £950
Spode
An Antique Spode Dessert Service Is on the Block (Source: Architectural Digest)

Spode modified the production of fine bone Porcelain china, making it adaptable to engravements and transferred paintings.

If you want an antique dish that looks like hard-paste Porcelain but can’t afford to drop hundreds of thousands or millions on it, then Spode is your best choice. It has replicas of the UK Willows, the Chinese Pagodas, and the elusive Italian Scene.

If you’re into originality, Spode antique dishes also have custom designs unique to its brands, like the golden pluck and dust print. The best thing about Spode is the non-restrictive materials it uses. You can buy earthenware, stoneware, or Porcelain, depending on your preference.

The Indian Sporting series and others with notable landmarks are more expensive than generic styles.

14. Stoneware

Year: c. 1400
Price: $200 – $350
Sold: $936
4 Vintage Mismatched Floral Stoneware Salad Plates
4 Vintage Mismatched Floral Stoneware Salad Plates (Source: Pinterest)

Yes, Stoneware and Porcelain look alike because skilled crafters designed the former to look like the latter even though it is a cheap alternative. You can, however, tell the difference from the weight as stone clay is heavier and thicker than finely ground Porcelain.

Unlike Porcelain, however, antique stoneware dishes don’t have versatile designs because the material isn’t as malleable as kaolin clay (the material used for making Porcelain.)

Fun Fact: If you’re looking for durability, Stoneware Antique dishes are the most long-lasting because of their sturdy raw material.

15. Bing and Grøndahl

Year: c. 1853
Price: $2,500
Sold: $195
B&G Bing & Grondahl Denmark Seagull Gold Trim Coffee Cups and Saucers 3 Set 305
B&G Bing & Grondahl Denmark Seagull Gold Trim Coffee Cups and Saucers 3 Set 305 (Source: Nordic Antique Sweden)

This Danish porcelain brand is notorious for its pastel blue Seagull dishwares.

They became so notorious and revered that its originating country Denmark, adopted its set as the National Service of Denmark. Its tea sets are considered a Danish masterpiece because 1/10 of every household owned one in its heyday.

Fun Fact: The Bing and Grøndahl company’s logo is the Copenhagen Coat of Arms.

 

What Antique Dishes Are Worth Money?

When considering the value of an antique dish, a few factors come to mind: material. What makes that dishware your grandmother (or mother) saved for special occasions only special? Why were they so protective of an inanimate object?

So many questions plague your mind now that you’ve perhaps inherited one of these coveted pieces. It’s normal to monetize old artifacts when you don’t have any specific use for them. Now, the big question is, “What antique dishes are worth money?”

The simple answer is that the quality of the raw material used to produce the dishware ultimately determines its worth money. Here are some of the most valuable materials for antique dishes;

Materials That Command High Market Value

Here we’ve compiled a list of materials used to make antique dishes. These materials are valued higher than several others.

Glassware

Glassware
Glassware (Source: Maxsold)

Although not as revered as Chinaware, Glassware holds its own in the big league of antique dishes.

Besides being fragile, well-tempered glass uses fascinating forms and colors that serve as decorative pieces and dinnerware. This material is peculiar to the Great Depression (the Early 1920s – 1930s) in the USA when Art Deco and Art Nouveau ruled.

Uniform designs or variety, the choice is yours when choosing a glassware antique dish.

However, you should note that each color carries a different value based on certain factors like rarity. So, purple glassware is the top of the food chain, while clear glass is the least valuable because it’s basic.

Fun Fact: A 1,700-years-old Roman Glass Bowl is the most expensive Glassware antique dish ever sold.

Porcelain

Because of its durability and beauty, Porcelain is a revered material in the collectors’ community. It preserves ornate designs for centuries without compromising the quality. You’ll often find Porcelain antique dishes as Victorian-era tea sets and pre-Victorian dinner sets.

There are, however, three major Porcelain styles – Bone China, Hard-paste, and Soft-Paste. The first design was the 1710 Hard-Paste, which combined alabaster and Kaolin (clay) traditional to China.

Then the 1750s Bone China, which mixed bone ash into grounded stone and clay, came next before the Europeans invented Soft-Paste.

Silverware

Silver is the real money maker amongst antique dishes because of its endless variety. Whereas other materials are somewhat restrictive, silver takes any form you can imagine. Its versatility makes it the king amongst its peers because of its unique designs.

 

Expensive Antique Dishes Based on Origin

Chinaware

Chinaware from the single-digit centuries commands the highest market value – one for their quality and two for their rarity.

The technique used in designing antique Chinese dishes remains unmatched in the modern world, although many have attempted replication. These pieces are often made of high-quality Porcelain features intricate artistic details that represent the country’s history.

Chinaware is popular for the Blue Willow and Flow Blue designs which tell stories.

German Chinaware

Perhaps you didn’t know before that chinaware isn’t restricted to the Chinese. Once the antique dishware crossed its national border, European countries like Germany adopted its style to improve their dinnerware.

Thus, Chinaware Made in Germany is also one of the collectors’ favorites.

However, they don’t command the same value as Made-in-China dishware.

How Rarity Affects Value

As you now know, several designs and materials of antique dishes have diverse values. Certain patterns are limited-editions, while others were made about a thousand years ago, making them extremely rare finds today.

Consequently, these categories of antique dishes sell at a premium value because they preserve history.

Fun Fact: In 2017, Sotheby’s sold an extremely rare 900-years-old Ru Guanyao Brush Washer Bowl for £37.68 million (asking price was £30.74 million) at an auction in Hong Kong.

 

Brand Influence on Antique Dishes Worth

What’s in a name? The assurance of quality based on years of experience and trust makes certain antique dishware brands dominate at auction houses. How do particular brands gain recognizance?

You know them from your childhood, your parents told you not to touch their dishes to avoid breakage, it passed down from generations.

So, look out for famous names like Spode, Royal Copenhagen, Jihong, Meissen, and Qing Dynasty.

 

Where can I sell Antique Dishes?

There are several ways to sell antique dishes, thanks to technological advancement. You can conduct an auction from the comfort of your home via the internet on accredited sites like eBay, Etsy, Christie’s, invaluable, and Sotheby’s.

If you prefer the traditional route, though, you can conduct an Estate sale or go to a physical auction house like Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

However, we’d advise you to appraise your antique dish through a professional before sale to ensure you get the value it’s worth.

 

What To Do When Dinner Antique Dishes Turn Yellowish

Yellowing is a natural effect of owning an antique dish for a long period. However, it shouldn’t worry you because there’s a solution to remove the stains. There are several ways to clean yellowish spots – from mild solutions to harsh chemicals in extreme cases.

Always start with a mild soak cleaning your antique dishes with a soft cloth dipped in a liquid dishwasher and warm water mixture.

If that doesn’t work, you can move to the next level – Mild Chemicals. In a bowl, add two tablespoons of baking soda and vinegar in two cups of water, then soak the stained antique dish in the solution for an hour.

Is the stain still proving stubborn? It’s time to bring out the big gun (just kidding) – Hydrogen Peroxide. Please note that it’s a harsh chemical, so wear protective rubber gloves before handling Hydrogen Peroxide. Add a tablespoon of the chemical solution in 2 cups of water then, soak a soft cloth in it and wipe the stain.

 

How Much is Sterling Silver vs. Antique Serving Dishes?

Dinner parties and Buffets aren’t complete until there’s a Sterling Silver serving dish on the dining table.

There are two designs of the antique serving dish – the Salver without handles and the ones with handles. Because many of the Salvers were lost in the Civil War, they’re considered extremely rare finds.

Sterling Silver is thinner and lighter than antique silver, serving affordable and less valuable dishes.

So, if you’re scouting for a moneymaker, go for the pure antique silver serving dish instead of the sterling silver. Whereas you can buy a sterling silver dish for less than $100, antique silver serving dishes sell for millions.

 

Final Words

Appraising an antique dish isn’t rocket science, don’t let anyone fool you. Yes, becoming an expert takes time and practice, but you can learn the basics from research. Here are a few points for a quick evaluation;

  • Ceramic is heavier than Porcelain.
  • Hard-Paste Porcelain is the most luxurious material
  • Spectrums pass through porcelain under light

Always ensure you research before you dispose of any century-old item – you don’t want to throw away millions like the poor Chinese dish seller who earned $35 for an antique dish worth hundreds of thousands more.

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