Antique Rose Medallion China: A Simple Collector's Guide

Updated April 12, 2021
rose medallion china

Antique Rose Medallion china was a popular Chinese porcelain import during both the 19th and 20th centuries. This brightly colored and highly decorative china can still be easily found today, ranging from the extremely affordable to the eye-wateringly expensive. Take a look at this historic porcelain and see why its unique design makes it still quite popular today.

Antique Rose Medallion China Features

Rose Medallion china has a unique pattern that helps make it immediately recognizable; there is often a central medallion that's either a bird or a peony. Four or more panels (the number of which depends on the size of the piece) usually encircle the medallion with motifs depicting people, birds, butterflies, trees, and so on. Dominant colors that reoccur throughout the series include pastel pinks and greens, with artists adding pops of reds, blues, yellows, oranges, and golds. This pattern can be found on baskets, plates, bowls, cups, vases, basins, tureens, teapots, platters, serving dishes, creamers, soap dishes, and more.

Antique Rose Medallion Characteristics

This style of Chinese porcelain was first made in the mid-19th century to satisfy the high demand for imported china that had begun in Europe and spread to the United States. Interestingly, Rose Medallion china that was made before 1890 has no origin marks on it. All china made after this date that was imported into the United States had to have a mark of origin because of a new tax - the McKinley Tariff Act - that was imposed on imported goods. Firstly, "China" was printed onto the bottom of these pieces, with "Made in China" replacing it twenty-five years later. Additionally, there are other patterns that resemble the Rose Medallion at a glance that you should be aware of:

  • Rose Canton - Similar color palette to the Rose Medallion but has no people or birds present in the painted scenes.
  • Rose Mandarin - Similar color palette to the Rose Medallion and has people, but no birds present, in the painted scenes.
Dish in rose medallion pattern

How to Date Rose Medallion China

The oldest pieces of antique Rose Medallion china were created around 1850 and don't feature any identifiable words or Chinese characters on their bases. This early porcelain also has more pitting, may have a gold rim, and is generally more cleanly painted than its later counterparts. Pieces of Rose Medallion china that were made from 1890 to around 1915 will have the word "China" printed on the bottom, while those made after 1915 will have the world "Made in China" printed instead. If you find pieces that have "Made in Hong Kong" or Chinese lettering on the bottom, these pieces are not considered antique.

Antique Rose Medallion Values

Unsurprisingly, the oldest and most finely crafted Rose Medallion pieces have the highest values, some of which reach into the tens of thousands of dollars range. For instance, one pair of large Rose Medallion vases from the 19th century is listed for around $18,500 and a large Rose Medallion punch bowl from 1870 is listed for almost $7,000. Yet, even the casual collector can afford Rose Medallion porcelain so long as you search for smaller pieces like teacups and saucers and more modern pieces from the early 20th century. Take this octagonal Rose Medallion cup and saucer for example, as it's only listed for about $100 in one online auction.

Tips for Spotting a Reproduction

Unfortunately, there're less than honest sellers that do try to pass off modern or reproduction Chinese porcelain as antique. However, if you look for a few specific attributes when assessing a potential sale, especially if you're buying from a new seller or buying online, there's no way that you'll be bamboozled:

  • Investigate the marks - Some sellers will try to scratch off the words "China" or "Made in China" to make a piece appear older than it is, so you'll want to look for any gouges on the bottom of a piece where these marks would normally appear.
  • Inspect the gilding - Check for scratch marks in the gilding that could have been applied to freshly painted gilding in order to try to make the piece appear older than it is.
  • Check the colors - It's important to look over the vibrancy of some of the colors as this can be a tell for if a piece is newer than a seller implies; for instance, orange pigments fade over time, meaning that oranges on mid-19th century examples of Rose Medallion porcelain will be rust colored instead of bright and vibrant.
Rose medallion pattern porcelain

Celebrate the Beauty of Chinese Porcelain

Eastern culture and art isn't celebrated nearly as often as its Western counterparts' are, but you can rectify this in your own home by adding a small piece of Rose Medallion porcelain to your expansive dinnerware collection. After all, who needs a priceless Ming vase when you can brighten your foyer with the pastel pinks and bright greens of a Rose Medallion vase instead?

Antique Rose Medallion China: A Simple Collector's Guide