Since I can remember I have loved a good flea market, junk shop, garage sale, bootsale or bring & buy. In short, I am firmly convinced of the old adage ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ and as such, I have always harboured delusions of finding; a long lost Da Vinci, a piece of costume jewellery secretly worth thousands, a candle stick that used to belong to Henry VIII, you get the idea. So when you do occasionally stumble across a ‘find’ that is at once astounding and immediately fills you with a sense of dizzying excitement, it really does make you feel like Indiana Jones. Somehow, you, out of everyone in the universe have stumbled across the key to this object’s true providence.
Well, I am the proud new owner of such an object and all because last Saturday, my boyfriend wanted to go to a local street festival, in the hope of seeing someone famous at the stand for the local football club. (Alas, he did not get lucky, but they were selling half price club shirts.)
Finding Delftware in the Fleamarket
Wandering among the stalls, the majority of it really was junk. I looked at some of it incredulous that anyone could have dragged it out of the bin and imagined that some poor unsuspecting stranger would hand over their hard earned cash but then as it goes; it must be another man’s treasure. Deciding to head home, we cut down a street with fewer stalls and crowds, and lo and behold, there she was. My treasure.
A piece of original Delftware, in beautiful condition, probably mid-century, and practically perfect in every way. I turned her over, and there was the stamp showing it is authentic - always looks for the maker’s stamp - in this case the little crown symbol shows it is an original piece from Delft. It has a number showing it is part of a limited edition, plus the words ‘Delft Hand- painted Holland.’ It’s basically screaming, ‘I am worth money, actual money!’
Clutching the jug to my chest, I asked my boyfriend to enquire how much it was - his German is much better than mine and when it comes to haggling, I wanted a professional. Already I was running calculations in my head, how much cash do I have on me? and how much am I actually willing to pay for this? How much is real Delftware worth? We had visited Delft in Holland, only a year ago and I remember thinking then that the prices for porcelain were eye-watering.
Anyway, eventually Jan gets the attention of the stall holder and asks, ‘how much for this blue jug?’
I grab my purse and shove the money into the woman’s hand, hastily thanking her, then, I grab Jan and walk away saying out of the side of my mouth, ‘don’t look back’ thinking any second now she is going to realise that that was the piece of Delftware and she meant 20 euros (at least) not 2.
And so that is how I found my prized piece of Delftware.
Where else to buy Delftware?
If you are interested in buying some cut-price Delftware for yourself, then there is a very famous antiques market held in Delft every Saturday, which is well worth going to see as there are lots of quality works on offer. But the obvious drawback is that within Delft they obviously know what Delft porcelain is worth, so any bargains are likely to be in the 50-70% of RRP price range.
For more info on the Fleamarket in Delft click here.
You can also opt for eBay Local. Search for ‘Delft’ in the search bar and have a wide range in the location filter, as in general this stuff is very easy to inexpensively ship.
How to identify Delftware?
It is relatively easy to identify Delftware as they were savvy about their stamping from very early on. Here are some key pointers:
Delftware is normally a textured porcelain, a buff yellowish colour with a thick white glaze. The most common style is hand painted in indigo blue- a direct copy of Chinoiserie ceramics.
Not all Delftware is blue, it has been known to be very colourful indeed, so if you suspect it to be good-quality Dutch porcelain always flip it over and have a look.
Firing flaws are common and the porcelain is prone to chipping. You should be VERY suspicious of something purporting to be from the 18th century without any kind of flaw.
You are looking for a stamp or hand drawn marking. Most common is a symbol that looks like a crown which you can see on mine, above the words ‘Delft Hand Painted Holland’. This is for pottery made in the last century.
For Royal Delftware, check out their listed trademarks here.
Older Delftware will have a handwritten symbol, in a cursive style, with a decorative D on the Delft.
The most important thing to look for nowadays, are assurances that it has been hand-painted, the cheaper Delftware avilable now is more likely to be mass produced.
Visiting the city of Delft
As for going to Delft, I can highly recommend it. It’s like Amsterdam in terms of canal-lined streets, cool cafes, lovely Dutch architecture, etc, only minus the crowds. It’s also the home of Vermeer and there is a large Vermeer museum there, although his best known works such as The Girl with the Pearl Earring are now housed in Den Haag or Amsterdam. There is also a huge museum dedicated to Royal Delft porcelain, so if you want to find out more it’s a brilliant place to start and there is also a pottery shop on-site.
I could wax lyrical about Delft all day long, but instead I have created a separate post, with lots of lovely images of our day in Delft and Den Haag.