To determine the value of antique Blue Willow dishes, examine their backs for markings that identify them as genuine Blue Williow items. Consult a Blue Willow book, such as Mary Frank Gaston's "Gaston's Blue Willow: Identification and Value Guide," to learn about what the markings indicate. Such books list the company that created a piece, when and where it was made and its approximate price.
A plate's condition, rarity and desirability deeply affect its value. Broken or repaired dishes do not sell well. Small cracks or lines on dishes typically indicate that someone has repaired them. Dishes with the fewest scratches and indications of wear sell the best. Blue Willow dishes manufactured by Spode or Wedgewood have a higher value than dishes made by most other companies. Early versions of all companies' dishes are in demand from collectors.
The standard Blue Willow pattern features a boat, a willow tree, a pagoda or teahouse, three figures crossing a bridge, two birds in flight and a Latticework fence. Not all dishes that feature such a design are Blue Willow, however. Many manufacturers make imitation Blue Willow items, which is another reason why the markings on the backs of such dishes are important. Also, remember that not all blue-and-white dishes are Blue Willow plates.