Classification of China
China is classified in several different ways when placed up for auction. A description of mint or near mint means the China will exhibit no chips or cracks, and all of the gold leaf paint, glazing or designs will be wholly or almost completely intact. If you are looking for China that is mint or near mint, expect to bid high and win it paying a premium.
Yet if you are willing to live with some cracks or chips, the bid price may plummet, depending on the maker.
Small chips, in innocuous places will always bring down the bidding price of the China, but they won't necessarily detract from the beauty. A chip on the bottom rim of a tea cup or a small chip on the underside of a serving platter rim will ensure that the item will not get top dollar, but no one, in real life, may even notice it is there. That means, you'll get that cup or platter for a far less final bid, and it will still look terrific.
A crack is a different matter altogether. If the crack is too deep, which means it will go through one side of the piece to the other, it may actually compromise the structure of the item. Deep and long cracks may actually break in two after being used only a short time. Cracks will enlarge when subjected to a repeated hot and cold wash cycle, no matter how gently you handle the piece. So realistically, unless you are willing to live with the fact that a crack may eventually cause a failure, it might be wise to pass up a bid on an item with a deep crack, no matter how inexpensive it may be.
Crazing, on the other hand, are small spiderweb-like cracks in the glaze finish. These cracks do not go into the structure of the China and are therefore relatively harmless. Some people even value crazing because it shows the dish has personality. If you can live with crazing on China, you may score a serious bargain on any that you bid for.
What are your needs?
Ultimately, think about your needs here. Mint or near mint China is almost flawless and it is the most highly coveted and perfect choice for the most special of occasions. But for everyday use, a few chips, shallow cracks or some crazing is not all that bad. If you are willing to live with those flaws, you can still present to people the best China service out there, while not breaking the bank on your final bid price.
Knowledge about what to look for when bidding on China is the key, and as always, no matter what you bid on at eBay, BAM's got your back!