Polish pottery is great because it's so sturdy. You can bake in it, microwave it, and put it in the dishwasher and they're lead free! But like most pottery, the pieces can range in quality. That's when it's helpful to know the categories and when it's a good idea to pay more for top quality.
When I go Polish pottery shopping, I'm looking for the best deal. I don't mind buying pottery that has imperfections if it means I'm saving a bundle! Most of my pieces are category 2 or 3 because I rarely bake with them, but they do just fine in the dishwasher or microwave. Some of my pieces have knicks, scratches, or small cracks and were sold for 50% or 70% off the original price. I can deal with a tiny knick if it means I get a dinner plate for 3 euro!
Luckily, Polish pottery has a rating system.
"Gat 1" is the best quality; there aren't any defects in the pot whatsoever.
"Gat 2" pots may have a stray brush stroke.
"Gat 3" may have a crack in the glaze.
"Gat 4" may have a chip.
"Gat 5" cannot be used in the oven."
Some stores use fancy stickers with the quality number, some use old school hand written stickers, and in some cases the number is stamped on the bottom.
I don't usually pay for Category 1 unless I REALLY love it and can justify spending the money. The creamer and sugar set above was a category 1, and I was so smitten I had to have it :)
You can bake with category 2, and really the only flaws on them are going to be superficial (stray brush stroke, crooked pattern, etc).
The casserole dish in the back is a category 2. Beautiful, functional, and cheaper than the category 1s.
Love it! :)
Make sure you check the piece for any bubbles or serious cracks. Even if you don't intend to use them in the oven, you might dislike the aesthetic later.
A lot of my lower category pieces are my dinner plates. I use them in the microwave and dishwasher nearly every day (as well as in almost all of my recipes photos!). They're beautiful with minor imperfections, but we use them all the time!
The other pottery category is "Unikat", the Polish word for Unique. These pieces are hand painted original designs and usually include a stamp and signature from the artist. These are my favorite pieces because they're always so pretty and original. They're easy to spot too, since UNIKAT is always written on the bottom!
Does that help you in your pottery buying? Just tryin' to help you save some money! :)