How to Pack and Ship Antique Pottery and Porcelain

Porcelain Figurine
Sitzendorf Porcelain Figurine.

Morphy Auctions

Packing antique pottery and porcelain for shipping can be a tricky proposition. Whether you’re selling online or trying to get an heirloom to a family member, you want the antique items to arrive safely. With some preparation and care, however, shipping can be accomplished, no matter if it's an inexpensive piece of Shawnee pottery or a rare Amphora vase.

The Box-Within-A-Box Method

When shipping pottery and porcelain, it's often best to use the box-within-a-box method. This helps ensure your piece is as securely packed as possible and won't get jostled around in transit.

For pieces that have handles or spouts, such as teapots and coffee pots, you'll want to provide extra protection for these easily damaged areas. It’s a good idea to wrap these parts individually with bubble wrap secured with packing tape. Then wrap the entire piece with another sheet of bubble wrap taped securely in place.

However, don’t make a “mummy” out of the object with overzealous packing. The harder it is for the recipient to remove the packaging, the more likely it will be scratched or chipped as the packing materials are cut away.

After it’s sufficiently wrapped in bubble wrap, place the item in a sturdy cardboard box not too much larger than the item being shipped. Then surround the piece with packing material such as foam peanuts, bubble wrap, or plenty of crumpled paper. Take care to make sure the item does not move around in the box before sealing it with packing tape.

Place this box inside a larger box. Make sure the inner box is surrounded with enough packing material so that it does not move around within the larger container.

A Single Box Method

There may be some pieces that you feel do not require quite as much babying as the box-within-a-box method. For these, you can use just a single box, but there are important factors here as well.

Wrap the item with bubble wrap and secure it with packing tape. Place the item in the middle of an over-sized box and surround it with packing material.

Make sure there are at least six inches of cushion between the object and all sides of the box. Also, you need enough packaging in the box to keep the breakable contents from moving even a little bit during shipping.

Place Identification in the Box

Place either an invoice with a return address, a business card, or a “return to” note that includes your address within the box before sealing it. This is helpful just in case the label gets damaged, and the shipper inspects the contents to determine where the package originated.

Seal the Box

It is important to seal the outer box securely with durable packing tape. Make sure the bottom edges of the box are taped as well as the top.

Label the Box

Label the box with the address, taking care to tape over the label. This will help ensure that the ink doesn’t run and become illegible if it becomes dampened in route to the recipient. Don’t forget to include your return address on the outside of the box.