How to Sell Your Vintage Dinnerware

You know you want to sell the china you don’t use, but how and where? I get this question a lot, and it comes down to a balance of the factors.

I wish I had a simple, easy answer, but there isn’t one.

Federalist pattern dinnerware

Federalist by Sears

I know it’s beautiful, and has a lot of family memories attached to it. Someone surely will want to buy it. Yes.

That said, the general trend these days is downsizing. The china patterns that sell best are those that fit a design niche, are in excellent condition, and scarce. That may or may not be what you have.

Here are the factors:

  • Condition: Is it in mint condition, never used, or something less than that? Does it have utensil marks, and/or any chips, cracks or crazing (where the glass glaze is cracked but the ceramic substrate is not)?
  • Quantity: Do you have only a few pieces, or more, or even a full service for 12, complete with all the serving pieces and accessories?
  • Demand: Is the pattern in demand (like Starburst by Franciscan, as of this writing) or not so much. If it’s classic, or Mid-Century Modern, you are higher on the scale for this element than you are if it’s something else.
  • Learning curve: Are you willing to put in substantial effort? If you already have an online avenue to sell things, you have an opening to reach a bigger audience, even if you don’t usually ship heavy and breakable dinnerware. If not, are you willing to learn, understand all the rules and fees, and take the business risks that can arise, such as if a buyer is unhappy or wants to return?
  • Speed: Do you want to sell your china quickly, or can you take some time to find the right buyer?
Vintage china by Nikko Greenwood pattern

Greenwood by Nikko

What Comes Next To Sell Your Dishes?

For most people, I suggest checking with local, independent secondhand stores to see if they will buy your dinnerware outright. You won’t get top dollar (far from it), but you also won’t have the hassles of finding a buyer, payments, satisfaction, etc.

The dinnerware will be off your hands, and someone else will deal with all the potential issues. (Believe me, they will earn their money.)

Other avenues on the ground include local consignment stores, renting tables at flea markets and garage sales. Online avenues include Replacements, eBay, Etsy and Craigslist.

There are also groups on Facebook where members can buy and sell to each other. Look for a group devoted to vintage dinnerware, or perhaps one focusing on a particular maker, like Mikasa or Pfaltzgraff, depending on what you have to sell.

All of these possibilities have pluses and minuses.

Will You Make Money?

How much can you expect? Like antiques, vintage dinnerware is ultimately worth what a buyer will pay for it. If you find the right buyer, who wants what you have (a bigger quantity, a hard-to-find piece types, mint condition, desirable pattern), what you can expect to sell for goes up. If not, it goes the other way.

You can look at online venues to see their offerings for your pattern. Remember, an offering price is one thing, a selling price is another. Chances are you will not get the prices you find in your research. Be ready to lower your expectations.

Yes, you can sell your vintage china yourself. It takes effort and time.

Another avenue to explore, depending on your situation, you may get the best value by donating your set to a charity that resells, and taking the tax deduction. Whether that’s best for you is a question for your tax professional.

I wish I had better answers. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!

Noritake Primastone china Fjord

Fjord by Noritake