- Published: May 19, 2014
- Written by Royal Copley
Just as in real estate where it's all about location, location, location....with pottery or any vintage or collectible... Condition, condition, condition is the key.
In the marketplace section of this site you will see exactly four conditions, Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor. That pretty much covers it. We looked hard at condition terms for everything from coins to vintage clothing. There are innumerable condition statements, so many in fact that our heads began to spin. "Superfine uncirculated mint lifelong case-protected"...." "...slight wear unnoticeable without 3x magnification under ultraviolet..." and on and on ad nauseum.....
I have never in the realm of buying Royal Copley or anything for that matter ever accepted the term "mint". What does that mean? To me, the author of this site, mint is impossible for just about anything other than maybe coinage. Mint means to me, an item that was finished at the factory, packed in stable, bullet proof packing and stored for 70 years in a temperature controlled environment. Haven't found one yet. Don't own any. We have purchased many pieces that were advertised as mint, and of course weren't. Condition statements are totally subjective, and as such should be considered as mere opinion. Granted, one would also hope that the seller is being as honest as he or she can in their description. What about the seller's vision? Mint can mean in those circumstances, very good condition, but as most of us are aware one persons "mint" is another's "Fair".
So our choices for condition in our Marketplace and the site overall are:
1. Excellent: the piece has no discernible damage, cracks (including "hairline"), chips breaks or "flea bites". There is none or barely discernible crazing of the glaze. The glazing is even, shiny or glossy and appears thick or heavy and is not worn. The colors are bright and the mold was sharp. In the case a planter, the cavity is extremely clean or appears to never been used as a planter. There are no stains, dirt, watermarks, calcium or hard water deposits. There are no heavy scrapes, chips or discolorations on the bottom. It appears new.
2. Good: there is no discernible damage, cracks (including "hairline"), chips breaks or "fleabites". There is some general crazing of the glaze, but no loss of glaze. The glaze is shiny and has only very minimal wear. There may be some very light scratches or wear from handling or cleaning but this is discernible only on very close observation. In the case of a planter the cavity may have been planted but there should be no dirt residue and only the lightest hint of dirt staining, and no calcification. The bottom may have dark marks, some scratching from shelf wear or perhaps a tiny edge chip from handling, but not in the color or visible glaze.
3. Fair: this piece is showing it's age. The item is heavily crazed, but the crazing is not yet stained. It has had much use, but is still serviceable as a display or planter item only. There should be no major damage visible, but there most likely will be cracks in the edges of cavities in vases and planters and these may be dark. Perhaps one or more very small "fleabites" on edges or tops of ears etc. In planters or vases there will be visible dirt staining, dirt, and or water stains and calcification that seems to have had some attempts at cleaning. There is heavy wear to the bottom, heavy dark marking and perhaps noticeable chips in parallel ridges (if applicable) from sliding off and on surfaces.
4. Poor: this piece is beyond it's useful life and has had rough and long use. It is not suitable for display. There is overall damage, wear dark crazing, staining and cracks. In planters and vases there will be heavy, dark water and dirt staining and heavy calcification. There is visible damage from across a room. This poor fellow needs to have a dignified burial.
There is an exception that I would make in the case of an item in fair or even poor condition. In the case of an extremely rare or one off piece. The Spaulding workers were allowed to make one off items for special occasions, family members and gifts. There are also examples of experimental pieces floating around. These of course should be kept. The owners of this site have items such as this and will continue to search for them.
We have come across items in less than good condition, and have on occasion purchased the piece or pieces as a placeholder in our personal collection. These are replaced at some point, and are only purchased when the cost is minimal.
Remember, condition is subjective. These guidelines are merely our opinion after years of searching, buying, getting stung occasionally, and building a collection. If the item is acceptable to you buy it enjoy it and don't fret about it.....
Also a note about labels. Yes, it's nice to see an intact foil label with the various Spaulding China, Royal Windsor and of course Royal Copley logos. However, remember that those nice little labels can be moved, replaced and yes duplicated. The only definitive labeling that can truly be trusted is not a label but raised "intaglio" type or embossed in the mold lettering......