Those cute ceramics from mid-century (many from Japan) are often “cold paint” decorated which means that the paint is applied after firing to the clear glazed surface of the piece. While lovely colors and artistic designs are the result…these decorations are easily damaged by normal use. Look at these ceramic Santa mugs–which are clearly suffering from “cold paint loss”.
The Glass & Pottery Sellers Association defines damage as “defects made through use, handling, cleaning or storage. Damage includes nicks, cracks, scratches, paint wear and crazing. Damage generally affects value and should be described.”
They further recommend that sellers describe paint wear and gold, platinum or silver wear. Wear to the metallic trim on an item should be described in estimated percentages – as in, “gold trim is approximately 90% intact.” Wear to painted decoration applied after manufacture or “cold paint” wear should be described in estimated percentages – as in, “approximately 20% overall paint wear.”
Look for accurate descriptions of all ceramic items that include identifying the item as “cold painted” or having “applied silver, gold or metallic trim”. There should be some statement as to how intact the paint or trim is. If you don’t find the statement in the description, ask the seller for an accurate description before bidding or purchasing.