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How to Ask a Question

by Christopher Kent (05/28/08).

You have an antique and you want to know more about it. How do you know where to start and what to ask?

For many years, alright too many years to confess to, I hosted a very popular radio show that actually gave appraisals over the radio. Yes, you ask, how did you do that? Well, by educating people to look, for perhaps the first time, at the things that were in front of them. I pointed out salient, identifiable marks that would help me assess the age, maker, uniqueness and ultimately the value of the piece. I walked the caller through the process hundreds/thousands of times.

I’m happy to share what I’ve learned. To all of you who have chosen Worthpoint as your source for Q&A and evaluations, I say: when writing in with a question be specific.

For example, let’s talk about dishes. Here’s the question as I’ve seen similar questions posted: “I have some Limoges china what’s it worth?”

Here is what is going through an evaluators mind when he/she reads it:

- what kind of Limoges china, are we talking a set of dishes?

- if so, what does the set consist of – plates, cups and saucers, vegetable serving dishes,

- what is the pattern name, if any,

- describe the decoration of the piece/pieces,

- does it say Haviland, does it say Limoge, or France on the bottom of the plate,

- does it say anything else that would help the evaluator give you the answer/ valuation that you are looking for?

- condition, are there any chips, dings, crazing in the glaze, knife scratches on the finish – yes, you can see them without subjecting the piece to a black light, (what’s a black light? we’ll talk about that another time).

You see what I mean.

Here is a better way to ask the question regarding Limoges porcelain. “I have a complete service of twelve Limoges dishes. They are marked on the bottom with Limoges, France and another name Lippincott and Company. There is no pattern name on the bottom but the dishes are decorated with blue forget-me-nots. In addition to the place settings that consist of dinner/lunch/bread and butter/bone dish/cup and sauce/tea cup and saucer, I have a coffee pot, creamer and sugar with lid,two vegetable dishes without lids, and three graduated serving platters, the largest being 18″ inches wide and the smallest 12″. All seem to be in excellent condition with no visible signs of wear. They belonged to my grandmother who received them as a wedding gift in 1918. Any help you can give on the value of the collection would be greatly appreciated.”

This may seem like a lot of work to you, but, boy does it make my life easier. And the benefit to you is that you will get a much better and more specific answer.

I’m looking forward to your questions, and I promise I won’t send them back to you with editorial suggestions.

Christopher Kent is a Worthologist and Director of Evaluations for WorthPoint.

11 Responses to “How to Ask a Question”

  1. laytonbatt27766 says:

    i have an original oil painting on canvas by the above named artist,i believe it to be of german origin and depicts a farmyard with hens in front of a barn overlooking a river with a city in the distance the frame is 18″x12″ is this worth insuring or sticking on e bay

  2. Dumchewa says:

    I have what I think to be a whole set of Florence dishes. or they also say the court shape. I was just wondering what value theymay have. They each have an RaNo number on each of them.. one dish says 354458… they all have a number.
    This is my first time even trying to understand the antique dish world.. thankyou for your time.
    Dawn

  3. midget says:

    drawing of quail on rice paper-think it is old, signed by boar d. can you tell me anything about it?

  4. ally08 says:

    Mr. Kent would you please view my pictures under Ask A Question and give me your opinion of them and their worth?

    Thank You

  5. Colobelle68 says:

    Hello…I have a framed colored lithograph, D Apres with certificate of authenticity from Collier Art Corporation. The artist is ROUSSEAU.. The registry # is 16106-100…The title I believe is ” La Peinture Naive Francaise”. The actual lithograph is 16″ x 21″. The picture has what almost looks to be the three musketeers, with a lady wearing a red dress sitting on the grass. There are white buildings with red roofs and a very old looking flying plane ( like what the wright brothers would have flown). Below the picture are big red letters saying… LA PEINTURE NAIVE FRANCAISE DU DOUANIER ROUSSEAU A NOS JOURS…. Then below that in smaller black letters….MAISON DE LA PENSEE FRANCAISE 2 RUE DE L’ ELYSEE-VIII 16 JUIN – 9 OCTOBRE 1960…Then below that the word…MOURLOT… All in all the whole thing is 21″ x 27″ with a heavy silver toned metal frame. If anyone can translate or knows anything about this picture feel free to respond PLEASE

  6. cmnltd says:

    Dear Mr. Kent,

    I have an ancient bowl that was left to me by an eccentric french aunt and I was wondering what it might be worth. It also comes with a ‘garantie d’authenticite’ from a french gallery that reads:

    Philippe et Claude MAGLOIRE (SNC)
    13, Place des Voseges
    75004 PARIS

    on the front as well as the # CPM 0037 dated 30.10.82

    it also says in french somthing like and i paraphrase ‘by giving this guarentee the Gallery will take it back in three years for 5% less than sale price if it is proven to be inauthentic’

    Inside the certificate it has a title “Coupe Islamique” and a description of the bowl with a photo that is stamped with a notary style stamp with the name of the gallery on it.

    It says that it is from Iran – Nishapur?

    The age is estimated at 10th century

    They reference Charles K Wilkinson as the ‘bibliography’

    It says collection Ph. Magliore and is signed by him.

    The bowl itself is about 8″ in diameter, 3-4 inches deep, it is cream colored porcelain, glazed. It is decorated with blue painted arabic characters in the depth of the bowl and also three areas of small blue triangles around the edge. It looks like it was broken into several large pieces and repaired with the witish looking stuff that you see old pottery fixed with in museaums. They make a point of noting that these cracks are outside of the decorated areas in the description.

    Thank you so much for reading through this, I hope my description is coherent enough. Any information that you could provide would be fantastic.

    Sincere regards,

    Chris Nichols

  7. patricia says:

    I have 2 old plates one is a breat plate from Germany, I was a gift from the last war when my friend came back from the war. The writing on the front is in German & the back its marked Germany 8. The other is a decorative plate the only thing I cam make oute on the back is the worde “Nove”

  8. gp says:

    mrKent
    I have my grandfathers ring which looks just like the ring you wear on the show, can you tell me about the black stone? My grandfather was from Greece and he said the ring is from there.

  9. parastoo says:

    hi<i am iranian artist.i have 30 original painting about my dreams. they are uniq and i never copy.if you want to see my art you can com eto my weblog and see detail of pictures. i have many exebitions to my country and malazia at klcc tower almost 1 mounth ago.
    bye
    popigi@yahoo.com

  10. Michelle Blanchet says:

    Hi I have a haviland Limoges plate from France and there is a signature on the back from 1979. I can’t make out the first name (I believe it starts with an S) and the last name is haviland. Any idea who this signature would be from?

  11. Mike Wilcox Mike Wilcox says:

    Hi Michelle, if it’s dated 1979 it sounds like a plate made under contract to The Franklin Mint. I ‘d need to know exactly what’s stamped on the back of the plate and a description of what the decoartion is on the face of the plate

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