To appraise a piece of fine bone antique china, one should first hold it up to the light to observe its translucency and note the strength and thinness of the item. Bone china is regarded by experts to be the strongest, finest type of china.
Next, look for the manufacturer's hallmark, usually located on the bottom or reverse side. The hallmark may be painted, printed, incised or impressed onto the piece. It can appear as the craftsman's name, a symbol, a series of characters or the country of origin. To identify the mark, take a photograph of it, then look for the image in a reference book or at an online image database of pottery and china marks. Identifying the hallmark usually reveals the name of the item's manufacturer and age. This information is used to determine the rarity and, based on the condition of the piece, a final determination of its value. If these steps are unsuccessful, a visit to a local appraiser can reveal the value for a fee.
Fine bone china was invented by the English. It was created by adding bone ash to the clay before it was fired, which made the clay much stronger, allowing the pieces to be made very thin and semitranslucent. The English developed the formula during efforts to discover the formula for Chinese porcelain.