So, you've seen a beautiful piece of Moorcroft on ebay and want to buy it. How do you stop yourself being ripped-off by unscrupulous sellers? You could part with a substantial sum of money and end up with what is essentially a Moorcroft second-quality piece.
Moorcroft sell off their seconds and a great many ebay sellers buy them quite cheaply and put them on ebay. However, not all of them are honest enough to tell you - the novice Moorcroft buyer - that what you are thinking of buying is actually a seconds.
There are three markings which Moorcroft use to denote second-quality items. The older one is the silver line - if you see a thin silver line on the base of a Moorcroft piece, through the WM monogram, it is a seconds. Some sellers actually try to "erase" this mark, but you can always tell it was there by simply running your finger lightly over the base - if there is a tell-tale depression line then contact the seller and demand your money back. Another way of telling is to check the glaze on the base. The entire base should be covered in shiny glaze, no missing patches.
People were being ripped off by unscrupulous sellers removing the silver line, so in late 2005, Moorcroft introduced a new method of denoting a second-quality piece. This is a red dot on the base of the piece. A small hole is drilled through the designer's monogram, and filled with red paint, then glazed over. Extremely difficult to remove or to hide. Look for it, and if you spot it - that's a seconds.
Some sellers will tell you about the red dot. They'll say something like the base has the usual markings and a red dot. As if this red dot were some kind of highly sought-after mark! They neglect to complete the sentence: "And a red dot.......which means it is a Moorcroft seconds".
In 2009 Moorcroft introduced a grading system for items which were not
quite first quality pieces, but which did not warrant being downgraded to
second quality items. If you see a capital "G" surrounded by a circle
on the base of a piece this denotes a piece that is not first quality
but which perhaps has a very minor flaw. Either way - it is not a first
quality piece so don't be fooled into thinking anything else.
It also needs to be mentioned that there are people selling Moorcroft who are not experts in it, and who genuinely do not know they are selling a seconds piece. But at least hopefully, you now know what is a seconds piece and are in the happy position of making an informed decision on whether to bid on it or not.
Never, but never buy a piece of Moorcroft on ebay (or anywhere else) without having a clear view of the base. If the seller has no photo of the base, e-mail and ask them for one, and ask them to confirm it is a first quality piece whilst you're at it. Keep the reply until you've received your item and are happy with it.
There are plenty of Moorcroft collectors who recognise second-quality pieces and will still buy them, either because they cannot afford the first quality piece in that pattern, or it is a rare pattern, or because it is often difficult, once you examine a Moorcroft seconds, to see what is wrong with it. But rest assured, there will be something wrong with it - those quality control people at Moorcroft have eyes like eagles!
And if it turns out that you love your first piece of Moorcroft and want to buy more, another good idea is to invest in an ultra violet light (available on ebay for around £5 or so) - this will help check for you if the piece has any cracks, chips, restoration, or missing glaze. Try to use it in a darkened room for best results.
As with all collecting of china pieces, it is often best to see them first hand before you buy them. This isn't possible on ebay - but always remember, if the item is not as the seller describes when you receive it then either try to negotiate a partial refund or send it back for a full refund. Don't just accept it and be disappointed.