The purpose of this guide is to assist a potential Moorcroft buyer in deciding if they are about to buy or have bought a restored piece. Whilst I am no complete expert in this field, I have seen my fair share of both the good, the bad and the downright ugly work of restorers on Moorcroft. With practice, anyone can become competent at spotting this type of work. Some restoration is perfectly acceptable if it is on a rare or unusual piece, and it is never an issue if a great work of art is restored to its former glory, in fact it can often enhance its value! My argument is more along the lines of "Why pay the same money for a little pin dish with restoration as you would for a pefect one?"
All commercial restoration can be spotted, no matter how good it is. This is mainly down to the materials used. All restoration is 'plastic', at least on the surface. No piece can be re-fired at the extreme original temperatures used by the factory without detremental results, so a suitable substitute has to be used for the clear glazes. The only ones available that give a satisfactory result are some form of epoxy or plastic based lacquer. Below the surface, fillers may be hard, but none can substitute the same qualities as the original pottery. To the touch, restoration will usually feel warmer than the cold of the original glaze, unless of course, the piece has been stood near a heat source!
To start your examination, you should stand away from the object and decide where you think it is most vulnerable, with regard to it sustaining damage in the event of it being knocked over or dropped etc. This is usually the rim, the base, a handle or any protruding feature. Get your restoration spotting tools on stanby - we all own them without realising it. Your eyes, teeth, fingertips and nails are the best available for the job in hand!
Next, pick up the item and examine it closely and espescially in all of the vulnerable areas, using a magnifier if necessary. Look for differences in shade of colour (it is extremely difficult to match exisiting colours perfectly), or areas where the colour looks too 'block' like. By this, I mean an area that is very uniform and solid looking compared to its surounding or adjoining parts. Feel for differences in texture, even if it all looks smooth. Retored glaze will NEVER feel the same as the original cold, glass like finish. By gently dragging you fingernail across an area, you will be able to feel a 'drag' effect on a restored glaze.
If you find a suspect area, then you should use the next tool, your teeth. Have you ever seen people at antiques fairs or shops looking like they are trying to bite a vase or nibble a cup handle? If you tap the suspect area gently with your teeth, you will be able to detect that 'plastic' surprisingly easy. With original glaze, you will always get a glass like ping, and with restoration a dull empty sound by comparison. To demonstarte the extreme differences of this, try tapping a ceramic object gently with your teeth, then a hard plastic object.
The final test is the heat one mentioned at the start. Place your hand over the suspect area for a while, until you feel some warmth developing. Remove your hand then replace it after a short while and feel for any warm spots remaining. Plastic will always retain heat for longer than glaze and this factor is most useful.
Some people will use pins to detect restoration, but this can have disasterous results. A seller may not be aware that they are selling a restored piece, and they wouldn't be too happy if you start digging holes in it! If you are not totally confident with the method outlined above, then you can use the edge of a smooth coin to gently tap parts of interest.
I hope that you have found this article interesting and useful, and if you have then please vote accordingly and keep it prominent for others to see. I have also written guides on spotting seconds in Moorcrfot and Royal Doulton which you may wish to peruse.