5 Tips for Identifying Vintage China and Antique Dishes

Today on the blog I’ll be sharing 4 of my best tips and tricks for identifying vintage china and antique dishes! Maybe you have some family heirloom dishes that you’d like to learn more about? Or maybe you enjoy thrifting and antiquing for these items but you’re not sure how to identify your finds?

The tips in this post should help you know exactly where to start.

Pretty vintage dishes are one of the things I always look for at antique shops and thrift stores! Ironstone, Jadeite, Pyrex, china… I love it all! And I think I will forever be collecting vintage china and antique dishes. But identifying these vintage and antique kitchen finds can be hard if you don’t know where to look!

Recently I did some research on my great grandmother’s vintage Homer Laughlin / Cunningham and Picket china collection. I learned a lot, and I can’t wait to share it all with you in today’s post!

vintage homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford china collection

A Family Tradition of Collecting Vintage China and Antique Dishes

I have been obsessed with collecting vintage china and antique dishes for years! When I got married, my mother lovingly hit up every thrift store and antique shop within driving distance.

We snatched up all the dinner plates and saucers we could find for my wedding, and we set the tables at my reception with the prettiest mis-matched china!

vintage homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford china place setting

After the wedding was over, we kept a few of my favorite china plates and patterns. And now whenever we use the plates we kept, it always brings back fond memories of my wedding day and hitting up the thrift stores with my mom!

Y’all, it turns out I’m not the only one in the family who was into collecting china!

vintage homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford china collection

This photos in this blog post show a collection of vintage, floral patterned china plates originally belonged to my great grandmother.

Her daughter, my grandmother gave a few of these pieces to my mother as a wedding gift when my mom married my dad.

Years later, we found the rest of the dishes from her collection in the old house.

Have you taken the tour?

We re-built our family’s 1800’s farmhouse… and I put together a mini tour of the before photos!

The dishes were pretty grimy when I brought them back into our new-old farmhouse. But we gave them a good scrubbing, and I became pretty fascinated by the backstamps!! I knew there had to be more to this story.

vintage homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford backstamps and floral design

So that’s when I started researching them online!

homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford china collection

S&H Green Stamp Dishes

Have you ever heard of S&H green stamps?

My great grandmother collected them. The A&P grocery store gave them out based on the amount you spent on your groceries. People would collect the green stamps and then cash them in for various items, like Pyrex, china, and other housewares!

Can you imagine being able to cash in your grocery receipts for milk glass and Pyrex?! That’s literally a dream for a vintage lover like me!

homer laughlin cunningham & pickett stratford china collection from the 1950's

My mother has told me stories about this many times! But I never quite put two and two together until I started doing a little more research to try to identify and date my great grandmother’s china collection.

I’ll explain how I came to this conclusion… but basically the short version is that I think my great grandmother acquired her china collection by saving up her green stamps!

Identifying Vintage China by the Backstamps

The markings, or the backstamp, is the most important detail to look at when identifying vintage china and antique dishes! Oftentimes the backstamp can reveal the maker, the origination, the date, and so much more about a piece.

Vintage Homer Laughlin and Cunningham & Pickett Stratford

The backstamp on my grandmother’s china reads “Cunningham & Pickett, Inc. Warranted 22K Gold. Hand Decorated Stratford. Alliance, Ohio”.

tips for dating and identifying vintage china and antique dishes using the backstamp

Well, that’s what one of the stamps says! There are actually 2 backstamps on these pretty floral dishes.

helpful tips for identifying vintage china by homer laughlin and cunningham & pickett by their backstamps and markings

The second backstamp reads “Homer Laughlin, MADE IN U.S.A.” followed by various letters and number that differ from plate to plate.

Why are there 2 backstamps on vintage Homer Laughlin china?

I learned that these dishes have two backstamps, because there were actually two companies involved in making them!

Homer Laughlin was a pottery company and they made the actual plates, bowls, platters, etc.

helpful tips for identifying vintage china and antique dishes by their backstamps and markings

Cunningham & Pickett bought the blank dishes from Homer Laughlin, and they then added the floral design and their own backstamp.

In the case of my grandmother’s vintage china, Stratford is the name of the floral design you see on the front of the dishes.

identifying vintage china by homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford backstamps

How to date vintage Homer Laughlin china?

The letters and numbers on the green Homer Laughlin stamp represents the date and the location that piece was made.

The first letter and number represent the corresponding month and year the plate was made. With A=Janurary, B=February, and so on… So “F 50” means this creamer was made in June of 1950.

The second letter and number represent the location the plate / piece was made. Where you see “N 8”, the N stands for Newell, WV and the 8 stands for plant number 8.

identifying vintage homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford backstamps

If you look at the photo above, the Homer Laughlin stamp reads “F56 N6”. So this piece would have been made in June 1956 in Newell, WV at plant number 6.

Identifying my great grandmother’s china collection…

Now this is where things get even more interesting to me… The pieces in my great grandmother’s china collection span from 1950 to 1961.

We have a random number of certain pieces and even some duplicates that you wouldn’t necessarily expect!

homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford collection displayed on white hutch

Let me explain… There are 5 dinner plates, 9 salad plates, 1 square plate, 13 small bread plates, 8 teacup saucers, 6 little desert dishes, 1 soup bowl, 1 serving bowl, 1 serving platter, and 2 creamer and sugar sets.

Now maybe a piece or two broke over the years. And maybe that could explain why some of the numbers don’t match up? But I highly doubt there was ever 13 full place settings to explain for the 13 small plates. And why would there be 2 creamers and 2 sugar dishes?

homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford backstamps

When I think about the dates on the backstamps spanning so many years, it makes me think maybe my great grandmother collected this china set over time, and possibly over several years.

She could have saved up, and cashed in her S&H green stamps, adding to the collection as she was able. Maybe at times she had enough for the larger pieces, and maybe sometimes she had just enough for another small bread plate?

homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford backstamps

I have scoured the internet looking at photos of old S&H brochures, and I could never find this pattern advertised.

I know it’s just speculation at this point, and I may never know if my intuition is right on this one. But all the little details line up just so, and it makes me appreciate this collected heirloom set all the more!

vintage floral china collection on white hutch

Recognize this china hutch? It used to be black, but I recently painted it. I love how much brighter this space is, and I really love how my great grandmother’s china looks displayed on it! [Click here] to read the post and get sources for the exact paint color I used!!

5 Tips for identifying vintage china and antique dishes…

Do you have some fine china hand-me-downs that you’d like to learn more about? Or maybe you enjoy thrifting and antiquing for these items but you’re not sure how to identify your finds? Let me share a few of my best tips for identifying vintage china and antique dishwares and kitchen items!

Being able to identify the backstory and the history behind my great grandmother’s china collection was so meaningful for me! Even if I’m not 100% sure about the green stamps! So I thought it might be helpful to share how I found all this info in my search.

1. Start with the backstamp or markings!

Start with the backstamp! If you’re piece has a backstamp on it, you can type out exactly what the stamp says in google and search for similarly worded backstamps.

Even if you can’t find the exact same plate or dish… this is the best place to start looking for more info!

homer laughlin and cunningham and pickett stratford backstamps

2. Check the google image results.

It’s important to note that Google’s search results are different from Google’s image results.

For example, when you type “homer laughlin pottery” into Google, you could just scroll down the page and looking through all the websites that show up in the search results. Sometimes you’ll find what you’re looking for, sometimes not.

But be sure to look through the google image search results as well!

When you look specifically at the image results, you may find an image of a similar backstamp or a dish with the same pattern or design.

See below, right under the search bar… if you click on “images” it will show you all the images for whatever you searched. That’s where you’ll want to look for additional info anf photos that match what you’re looking for.

using google image search for identifying vintage china and antique dishes

3. Check Pinterest.

Pinterest is often mistaken for a social media platform, but it’s actually very similar to Google. It’s a search engine, and a visual search engine to boot!

This makes Pinterest a great place to search for more info about the vintage china or antique dishes you’re hoping to identify! Try typing in a description of the piece, or the words printed on the backstamp and see what you can find.

4. Check the re-sell websites.

Search the re-sell websites! When you’ve exhausted your google search, try looking on Etsy, Ebay, or Recollections for similar china and dishware sets.

Oftentimes if you can find a listing on one of these sites, you may be able to learn a little more about the piece or pattern by reading the seller’s description of the item.

helpful tips for identifying vintage china and antique dishes

5. Try using the Google Lens App!

Did you know there’s an app that can help you identify vintage china and antique dishes?

The app is called Google Lens and it’s free to download and use. Google Lens is such a neat tool that works with your phone’s camera. The app allows you to take a photo of an item, and it will then search google for similar photos!

Try taking a photo of the front of the dish, a close up of any design or detailing, or even of the backstamp and search for similar photos using the Google Lens app.

The Google Lens app is perfect for when you’re out antiquing and thrifting and want to look up an item before you purchase. You could use it to help you identify vintage china and other antique items, and also to price compare to see if you’re getting a good deal! Such a useful app!!

Don’t forget to pin this for later!

These are the exact steps I took to researching the history of my great grandmother’s china collection.

I hope these tips are helpful to you! And I hope you enjoyed today’s post as I shared my love for collecting and identifying vintage china and antique dishes!!

There are some pretty cool stories and hidden gems to uncover if you know what to look for! And in this case, the story was written out for me in the backstamps of my great grandmother’s hand-me-down china.

If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, then you’ll definitely want to check out my ultimate guide to thrifted home decor! I shared a ton of information in the post including my best tips and tricks for thrifting home decor, info on the best places to go thrifting (both online and in person), and a list of 15 things I’m always on the look out for for our farmhouse whenever I go thrifting and antiquing. It’s a must read!

Happy collecting y’all! Thanks for stopping by the blog today, and as always thank you so much for following along…

Love, Brittany

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9 Comments

  1. My mom’s recent interest seems to be antique fine china, so she’s currently looking for vintage dishes to add to her new collection. I appreciate you letting us know that vintage china often has backstamps on the pieces, so it’s best to check them first if you want to look for more information about them. I’ll keep this in mind while I help my mom find a trusted seller for vintage collectible dishes.

  2. I have the Cunningham & Pickett, Inc Alliance, Ohio hand Norway rose hand decorated. Has only one stamp, it was my grandmas.

    1. Hi Hilda! The “G47” represents the date the platter was made. So your Great Grandmother’s platter would have been made in July of 1947. The “N6” is the location. The N stands for Newell, West Virginia and the 6 would have indicated that it was made at plant number 6. A lot of the Homer Laughlin pieces were sold as blanks, and the designs were added by another company who bought them as blank pieces. The ones I have were pieces made by Homer Laughlin, and sold as blanks to Cunningham and Pickett. Then Cunningham and Pickett added the floral design and the second backstamp. So if there is another backstamp, that may give you even more info on the platter! Hope this is helpful. 🙂

  3. I have a Homer Laughlin Hudson eggshell Platter with what looks like a chrysanthemum pattern, but there are no numbers after the mark? I can’t find the pattern anywhere on the internet. Is this an original, or just a fake?

    1. Hi Judy! 🙂 I wouldn’t think it’s a fake. Mine have two stamps because one company made the dishes and the other company created the designs on them. So they both left their marks. My best advice to identify your particular platter would be to use the Google Lens app. You can take a photo of the front of the platter showing the design and it will visually search all the images to find any similar plates. You can also take a photo of the backstamp, and it will visually search for similar backstamps. Sometimes this might give you better search results than typing the description into Google.

      I did do a quick search and found this platter on Etsy: https://rstyle.me/+Y-XF6bnwdiXRvEaVr1nFRA

      It looks like Chrysanthemums and it only has one backstamp! Could this be the platter you have?

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