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"In the late 19th century in Holland, it was very popular to have large, under-glazed blue scenic decorated dishes," Lark explains, noting that these dishes could run 25 inches wide."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.But can you teach yourself how to navigate such a vast field of porcelain with confidence that you aren't making too many mistakes—or worse yet, getting duped?We asked that question of Lark Mason, an expert in Asian art at igavel.com, and his answer was an unequivocal "Yes." "I do this all the time," Lark says.

Shape It Up Lark says that one of the easiest ways to begin evaluating blue-and-white porcelain is to evaluate an object's shape, which pins a piece to a particular place.

For example, the craft of porcelain making was unknown in Europe until the early 18th century, so porcelain purported to be made on that continent before that time simply is not, Lark notes.

Porcelain is also distinguishable from other types of ceramics because it is translucent.

In porcelain, the clay fuses and produces a smooth surface even where it's chipped.

"If a chip shows a grainy surface that is not fused together then it probably is not porcelain and did not come from Asia," Lark says.

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