China is porcelain and should not be confused with pottery. China is considered to be a fine piece of art and got its name because China is where it was first manufactured. The components of china are the paste and glaze. The finer porcelain pieces are white in its body all the way through, degree of translucency where the body is the thinnest (usually the edge), and unique smoothness. A good test to tell the difference is the sound it makes when struck on the edge. Porcelain will give off a clear bell note and pottery will give off a deeper clinking sound. The glaze should reflect light in a distinct manner when moved back and forth in the light. The surface should be smooth and soft. Great knowledge and expertise is involved in producing fine porcelain.
There are there types of porcelain: hard paste, soft paste, and bone china. Bone china has been the standard porcelain in England since the 19th Century and is very plentiful in North America. When considering the quality of china, one would need to observe the body or paste that was used, whether the glaze covers the surface, the type of item and its contours, the decoration, and the marks from its maker.
Marks are often unreliable in identifying a source. There are many forgeries. The interesting thing about forged marks is that they are often found on some of the more valuable pieces.
There are many countries that produced porcelain over the centuries, including China, European countries, Germany, Vienna, Spain, Italy, and England. Some notable names are Royal Copenhagen, Lowestoft, Coalport, Spode, Minton & Co., Davenport, Wedgwood, and many more.
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