Dating antiques made in

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"I look across a room and if I see a shape that's the wrong shape for what it's purported to be, I'll get closer and look at the design, and then flip it over and look at the clay.I'll put all those things together to place it to a particular culture, manufacturer, and a time in history.

"This size dish was popular in this period, and when you see one there's a good chance it's from Holland, or maybe Japan, at the same time." The shape of a piece can also peg it to a particular time in history.

At the same time in China, the shade of blue was typically lighter.

"It is possible by knowing the specific tones of blue to associate an object with both a culture, manufacturing center, and period of time with great accuracy," Lark says.

We've all seen white and blue porcelain before—maybe while strolling around a Chinatown chatchka shop, a first-rate art museum, in Macy's decorative wares department, or even at a neighborhood yard sale.

The blue on this glaze indicates it was made in Japan.

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