How can I identify my dishes?
There are two important identification factors for a set of dishes. Their shape and their treatment, which is the name of their decoration, pattern, or glaze color.
There are several good references that can help you identify the shape of your Homer Laughlin dishes. The best general purpose book is "Homer Laughlin China Guide to Shapes and Patterns" by Jo Cunningham and Darlene Nossaman. This book is a good book for the new collector and is indexed by shape. A second book, which lists many more treatments is "Homer Laughlin Decades of Dinnerware" by Bob Page, Dale Frederiksen, and Dean Six. This book has visual index of HLC shapes starting on page 14 and has photos of each treatment. These books can be purchased or borrowed from many libraries.
A good dinnerware shape identification guide can be found on the internet at www.ohioriverpottery.com/pages3/table.html. This guide covers most shapes for dinnerware from Homer Laughlin and other Ohio valley potters. Although it is an excellent shape guide, it shows only some of the thousands of treatments.
Where can I find the treatment (pattern) name or number for my Homer Laughlin dishes?
The two books listed above are the two good resources. It is estimated that HLC produced more than 20,000 different decorations. The name and number of a large number of treatments remain unknown.
A small number of Homer Laughlin pieces carry the treatment name on back of their dishes as part of the potter's mark (photo 1). The treatment name is ballet, which is shown just below the potter's mark
Sometimes you can find the decoration number place on one piece in each set of china. A Homer Laughlin decoration number has the format a single or double letter code followed by a number of 1 to 5 digits. For example you can see the decoration number S-203 the potter's mark (photo 3). The letters are an abbreviation for the Homer Laughlin shape name or their customer's name. The S in the above example is use for HLC's Swing shape. The number indicates the treatment applied to the Swing shape. You are most likely to find this number on the bottom of a casserole lid, baker (oval bowl), or creamer. More general information about treatment identification can be found on the web at: www.ohioriverpottery.com/pages3/decalline.html.
How can I sell or dispose of unwanted Homer Laughlin dishes?
HLCCA does not maintain a list of dealers, and therefore can not recommend dealers. However the following are some suggestions:
- Find antique dealers in your area by asking your friends, using the phone directory, or an on-line search. Take you dishes to at several local dealers and ask if they are interested in purchasing your items. Getting more than offer helps ensure that you get the best price.
Consider selling your items on an on-line auction site like eBay. Sometimes you can find a local service that will handle the whole sale process, including shipping, in exchange for a portion of the sales revenue.
Consider donating your items to a local charity. Although you will not receive payment for your items, you will have the satisfaction of helping a charity and you might be able to claim a tax deduction.
Will HLCCA help me sell my dishes?
HLCCA makes some sales opportunities available to members only. Current HLCCA members will receive an email reminder four times a year inviting them to list items for sale in the SideDish, which is distributed with the quarterly HLCCA publication called The Dish.
HLCCA also allows its members to include their items for sale in auctions at the annual HLCCA convention. Typically a fixed percentage is keep by HLCCA to cover expenses related to the auction. Details for these opportunities are communicated to members via of email or are published in the Dish.
How can I determine the age of my dishes?
The marks on the back of many, but not all, HLC dishes contain a date code. For example the digits on this mark (photo 2) indicated it was made in Oct. 1932 (J39) in city of Newell in factory #8 (N8). This mark contains no information about the shape or treatment of the china.
Reading the date codes is complex, because HLC changed their format several times. I suggest consulting one of the following resources to better understand how to read HLCCA's date codes:
- Page 8 of Jo Cunningham and Darlene Nossaman's book entitled Homer Laughlin China, Guide to Shapes and Patterns.
- Page 535 of Bob Page, Dale Frederiksen, and Dean Six's book entitled Homer Laughlin Decades of Dinnerware.
How can I determine the value of my dishes?
HLCCA can not determine values for you. Values of dishes fluctuate over time and vary by region of the country. Condition of the item is the single most important factor in determining value. An item might be worth as just 10% of book value, when its condition is very poor.
Accurate value estimates require that each piece is evaluated by a qualified appraiser. You can use the phone book or the recommendations from dealers at local antique shops to find a qualified appraiser. However here are some alternative suggestions for estimating the value of your pieces.
- Search the closing prices for similar pieces on-line auction sites, like eBay. This is a very good estimate of current price that you would likely get if you sell your items in a auction.
- Purchase or borrow one of the many collector books that cover Homer Laughlin china. Nearly all collector books list values, which are always for pieces in perfect condition. Values will be lower for pieces with flaws or damage. Remember that values both rise and fall with the market.
- Ask a local antique dealer if they would be willing to provide a value estimate.
Will HLCCA help me find Homer Laughlin dishes I am seeking?
HLCCA will not locate dishes for collectors. However, HLCCA members can advertise in the SideDish for pieces they are seeking. In addition HLCCA provides several opportunities for members to network with each other. Often you can find another member who is willing to assist your search.