If you wish to begin collecting French porcelain, start by learning about the various historical periods in which the porcelain has been made. As you review the history of porcelain made in France and become familiar with the various styles and types, you can do a better job of figuring out which genre and historical period of French porcelain manufacture appeals to you the most. Once you have an in-depth understanding, you will be better able to build a quality collection and avoid spending more money than you should. You should also check out collectors' clubs both online as well as those that meet in person. You can learn from experienced collectors about the best sources of the artwork and common mistakes made by new collectors, as well as receive ongoing education in your new hobby.
Europe originally imported porcelain from China, in which porcelain crafting was a notable art. In the 1600s, however, French artisans began working with the ceramic themselves and continue to create porcelain figurines and dishes to this day. As you begin your study of French porcelain, you may wish to read up on the history of France, which can give you a good background as to the styles reflected in the art over the years. You may find that you are drawn to the aesthetic of a particular period. If you are, this enthusiasm and passion may enable you to build a fine collection of porcelain from that particular era.
Many antique shops and online auction sites contain beautiful pictures of French porcelain, some that show considerable detail. Through your reading and through browsing collections, you can become familiar with the names of porcelain craftsman as well as the businesses that produce and sell French porcelain. This can become very important as you develop your collection and make decisions about purchases. You may also want to seek out porcelain collectors' magazines, which can help keep you up to date about the availability of French porcelain from the era in which you wish to specialize.
Spend time developing relationships with antique dealers in the area where you live. Although it is certainly possible to find good deals online, it may be safer and more convenient to make your purchases from a local merchant so that you can actually see and handle the pieces before you buy them. If you explain to antique dealers what you are looking for, many will be willing to keep their eyes out for pieces that suit your needs.