China Pattern Identification
If you inherited or received your dishes second hand, you may know very little about them. If you'd like to learn, it is best to identify the maker and the pattern. Patten identification can be easy or hard or even impossible. This is because in some cases patterns are marked on the piece, in other instances pieces only tell the maker or brand but the pattern can be identified from an old catalog or by experience, while in yet other instances the patterns were never named by the maker. For instance, many French Haviland patterns were never named. Thankfully, collectors have documented the patterns and assigned reference numbers or Schleiger numbers to help match the patterns.
Check the back of a plate
For most modern patterns, identification is as easy as looking on the back of a large plate.
First, see if the maker's mark can be located. The mark should be prominent but it may only be a symbol or a letter.
Second, see if a pattern name or number is provided on the plate. The pattern number can be used to look up a pattern name, but, in some instances, the number is the pattern name. If you only see the maker's mark and no pattern name, then a visual identification will be required. This is time consuming, but some discontinued dinnerware dealers are willing to provide this service.
Decoding the maker's mark
Can't make sense of the markings? There is some help available, but you'll need to do some research. There are some excellent places to look for books that can help you. You might first check for these at your local library, before you purchase them.