What Can You Do with Your China Set? Your Children Don't Want It

“What’s It Worth” Antiques Minute

October 8, 2021

The world has changed, and the china set that gave you so many fond culinary and holiday memories of dinners past has almost become a dinosaur. My generation is downsizing, and usually our next home has no formal dining room. Most of our children don’t want our china sets because they generally don’t appreciate the formal dining experience as our mothers and grandmothers did. And all too often they prefer disposable paper and plastic over the harder-to-clean formal dinnerware. Added to that, most vintage china is not dishwasher or microwave friendly.
So what can you do with your vintage porcelain and china? For starters, recognize that while a few sets can bring fairly strong prices, most are common and are worth relatively little. “Mr. Ivankovich, would you like to buy my china” is one of the most common phone calls and emails I receive, usually from people struggling to find a buyer.
Second, ignore the prices on Replacements.com. Although their website is the absolute best for researching makers and patterns, your chances of selling at their prices is next to impossible.
My suggestions:
• Keep It: If you can find room for it, keep it, because it usually won’t sell for much.
• Children: Although they’ve probably already said no once, offer it up one more time. Perhaps they’ve changed their mind.
• Dump Damaged Pieces: Before trying to sell, dispose of any pieces that are chipped, cracked or have condition issues. Damaged items have a tendency to diminish the perceived value of the non-damaged items.
• eBay Completed Prices: Use eBay Completed Prices to get a realistic feel for what people are paying today for what you’re selling.
• Sell Locally: While a few pieces may sell well on eBay, the work and expense of shipping 100-plus pieces of china long distance can be prohibitive. Perhaps try Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, CraigsList, or a similar local selling service.
• Break Up the Set: Usually the serving pieces, platters, sugar and creamer, and salt and pepper shakers will be in more demand than dinner and salad plates, tea cups and saucers, or soup and berry bowls.
• Join a Collectors Club: The Vintage Table Cloth Lovers Club members love and appreciate vintage china. (https://business.facebook.com/VintageTableclothLoversClub/). Reach out and join that group and see if there are any members seeking to acquire what you have.
• Donate It: If all else fails, give it away to someone who’ll appreciate it or donate to a nonprofit resale store.
What’s it worth? Always remember that the most amount of money requires the most amount of work. Want the most amount of money? Then sell it in a manner where you control the selling situation, such as garage sale, flea market, etc. Or eBay it. Describe it, photo it, list it, and then pack and ship it once (if) it sells. Want to do the least amount of work? Then donate it and be done with it. Want to let the auctioneer deal with it? After deducting auction commissions and selling and delivery expenses, how much will be left? Ask yourself this question. How hard do you want to work to make $25-$50-$75? For many, the answer is fairly obvious.
Mike Ivankovich is an auctioneer, appraiser, home downsizing expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" radio show. Now in its eighth year, “What’s It Worth” airs live in the Philadelphia area on Friday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. EST on WBCB 1490 AM and on the internet at www.WBCB1490.com. Mike offers house and estate contents appraisals nationally through his www.ZoomFacetimeAppraisals.com website, and he has presented his “What’s It Worth” Zoom Appraisal Program in 24 states. Further details can also be found at www.MichaelivankovichMEETINGSPEAKER.com.


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