We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It is no wonder than none of our readers were able to identify this stuff from my parents' basement, which came via my Grandpa via his Mom, I think.
It turns out that it is so rare that the china and jewelry appraiser said she knew these existed, but had never seen them. It's gold-plated Lenox china. They did not make very much of it.
She suggested letting Sotheby's take a look at it all. I'd keep a couple of pieces for sentiment's sake, but would never use fully gold-plated dinner plated, coffee cups and saucers, and soup bowls. Now I'm greedily curious about market value. That little one in the middle is one of the 12 soup bowls, which looks more suited for an offering to a Greek god than for consomme.
I agree. Keeping just one piece would probably reduce the sale price significantly. Would it be just as satisfying to you to have photographs of it, or do you need to actually be able to have a piece to handle (and dust)?
My inclination would be to either sell the whole set, or -- if any of your kids are interested -- to keep it all. (Then again, I've been through more than one downsizing/shedding of things I really did not want, so I'm biased.)
If it's that rare, you might at first run into a problem finding a buyer for it, gold plate or not. Scarcity doesn't always imply ready demand. If you have that problem an outfit like Southeby's could help to get it in front of the right eyes.
Also, if it's that rare a museum might be interested. I think the Met art museum (or was it the Smithsonian?) has an extensive collection of glass and tableware. They might offer to buy or maybe you could donate & get a tax break.
Or, you could throw a wild dinner party with a Midas theme!!
Your posts on this set have been reminding me that my brother and I have about three generations worth of inherited sterling silver table and serving ware, in a time when nobody entertains like that anymore.
My wife, Mrs. Mudbug, posted the last time you showed a picture of one of your pieces (they are beautiful, by the way) suggesting you check with Replacements in Greensboro (replacements.com). I would make that my first stop. They are a very big operation and are very knowledgeable about all things related to china.
I was in a similar situation and went to Sutheby's. They were honest and completely above board, however, they could have saved us a trip to New York had they paid attention. I'm not a big fan of New York so it was certainly much more of a hardship for me than it would have been for you!
I don't suspect that you are over estimating (or guessing) the value of your pieces, but getting the opinion of someone who is knowledgeable in your pieces might save you a trip to the Big Apple - on the other hand, it might make a great excuse for you!
If you do take it to Sutheby's, I hope you get a very rich buyer who pays you more than it's worth (whatever it's worth)! :-)
Good luck and I hope you let us know what you find out.
I would worry about eating out of these dishes. On one of the TV shows about pawnshops they discussed that one of the ways they used to gold plate ceramics was to mix the gold with mercury and impregnate the ceramic pores. The would then heat the object and vaporize the mercury. They claimed the process was deadly to the workers who breathed too much mercury over time.
I expect I am wrong, since mercury/silver amalgams are used in dentistry, but I would worry that some of the mercury might still be present and leach out into food.