At some point in your life, you have dropped a plate. It might have broken. It might even have been valuable. It’s okay; we’ve all done it, no judgement here. Today, though, we’re going to talk about the most valuable antique dishes that money can buy – it might make you feel a little better about that time when you did drop a plate and it shattered into a million pieces; at least it wasn’t one of these.
Owning porcelain dishes is not unusual, even owning antique porcelain dishes is a relatively common practise, but how about owning a porcelain dish worth £30.74 million? Well, in 2017, a phenomenally rare Ru Guanyao Brush Washer Bowl went up for auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, and sold for an extraordinary $37.68 million. How on Earth is a bowl worth that much, you ask? Well, dating to the Northern Song Dynasty, making it 900 years old – the small antique dish comes from China’s central Henan province, and its blue-green colour and unique crackled pattern mark it as a product originating from a kiln that only had a production run of a couple of centuries. As you can imagine, this makes high-quality examples of this kind exceptionally rare and highly valuable; definitely not the bowl to use for the cat’s supper.
Porcelain in general can vary massively in price and value, but a lot of China porcelain is highly collectable due to its beauty, variety, and quality. Owning a piece of history is always a privilege, and owning antique porcelain dishes is no different.
Wmpearl [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
National Museum in Warsaw [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Naturally, a lot of glassware doesn’t have the same provenance as China and other porcelain products when it comes to age, but some of it is still pretty extraordinary. The most expensive piece of glassware ever sold at auction was a Roman glass bowl, intact after 1,700 years of existence. The Constable-Maxwell cage-cup – an oil lamp – sold for £2,646,650.00 at auction at Bonhams to a phone bidder.
Generally speaking, however, glassware is obviously not as old as porcelain, that doesn’t mean glassware is any less collectable and valuable to the right buyer though. A lot of depression era American glassware is highly sought after for its beautiful colouring and shape. America in the first half of the 20th century had a very distinctive style, seen in Art Deco and Art Nouveau antiques dating to the period. These contrasting motifs are found throughout just about everything you could imagine; fashion, architecture, lighting, décor, and yes, even the glassware.
Found in beautiful colours such as pink, green, and purple, depression era glassware is something to look out for if you’d love to add that pop of colour to your antique dish collection. Splash out on a wonderfully maintained set if you’re a perfectionist, or if you like odds and ends, you can find a plethora of individual pieces (sadly, often flawed) for a significantly discounted price in the right places.
Saving the best for last (if you’ll forgive our bias) antique silver is where value for money truly shines when it comes to antique and vintage dishes. The most expensive piece of silverware ever sold was a German soup tureen, custom-made for King Louis XV of France. The tureen sold for a staggering $10 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. If you’re looking to spend a little less, our own stock of silverware is every bit as regal as King Louis’, without the heavy price tag.
The incredibly vast variety that is available through silver is astonishing, with some pieces dating back centuries, while others reside in the last ten or twenty years, and others still only dating back two or three years, the age of your silverware is really entirely up to your personal preference. Furthermore, each century contains more than a few different styles and motifs to choose from, and let’s not even begin on the difference made by the origin of any given piece. Items from Birmingham to Liverpool can display enough unique stylistic differences that you would think there were continents between their conceptions.
Take this stunning venison dish, for example. Dated to 1849, it sits comfortably in the Victorian period, originating in London. The floral and stylised leaf decoration is typical of the Victorian era, and it features heraldic markings pertaining to the Wilson family (more can be read about that here).
It is my (not so) humble belief that antiques are at their finest when they are in the form of glistening silver, and this stunning example of its kind shows that when it comes to the most valuable antique dishes, the same rules apply. Feel free to see what I mean by exploring our own page of antique dishes, or our equally stunning silver bowl range.
Bethany Massey – Digital Assistant (Content Creator)
Having graduated university with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing Bethany then joined the AC Silver team as a content creator. Bethany spends her days writing content for the AC Silver blog and other luxury goods/antique blogs.