Norman Rockwell Plates: How Much Are They Worth?

Norman Rockwell is one of America‘s most beloved artists, famous for his heartwarming illustrations that captured the spirit and nostalgia of 20th century American life. From the 1960s through the 1980s, his iconic artwork was featured on collectible plates, many of which were snapped up by adoring fans and collectors.

While many Norman Rockwell plates sell for just a few dollars today, some rare editions have fetched over $1000 at auction! Curious what your Norman Rockwell plate might be worth? Want to start collecting these charming vintage plates yourself?

Join us as we take a closer look at the intriguing world of Norman Rockwell collectible plates. We‘ll explore their history, reveal how to spot an authentic plate, and share some of the most valuable examples ever sold. By the end of this post, you‘ll have expert knowledge about these delightful collectibles.

The Rich History of Norman Rockwell Plates

Before we dive into values, let‘s set the stage with some background information.

Norman Rockwell: America‘s Favorite Illustrator

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was a prolific American painter and illustrator whose body of work became a cherished part of popular culture. Over his 60+ year career, he created 4,000 original works including the famous "Four Freedoms" series and 323 covers for The Saturday Evening Post magazine.

Rockwell had a genius for creating detailed narrative scenes that told relatable, often humorous stories of everyday American life. His idyllic depictions of families, traditions, and values shaped the way many Americans visualized themselves during much of the 20th century. Today, his original paintings sell for millions of dollars and his artwork is highly sought-after by collectors around the world.

A Plate Collecting Craze is Born

In 1959, Macy‘s department store commissioned a series of ceramic plates featuring Norman Rockwell‘s beloved "Four Seasons" illustrations. Little did they know, these plates would spawn an entire industry!

Throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, numerous well-known companies including Knowles China, Edwin M. Knowles China, Gorham, River Shore, and Danbury Mint began churning out their own Norman Rockwell limited edition collector‘s plates. Rockwell‘s nostalgic appeal was a perfect match for the sentimentality of the plate-collecting market.

From heartwarming holiday scenes to whimsical snapshots of everyday life, the plates featured some of Rockwell‘s most popular Post covers and other classic illustrations. Plates were released in themed series like "Rediscovered Women," "An American Family Treasury," or "Norman Rockwell‘s Christmas Memories." Many were limited editions with certificates of authenticity.

During the height of the craze, collector plates by folks like Rockwell that originally sold for $50-100 were appreciating in value each year, with some early editions commanding hundreds on the resale market. Collectors eagerly awaited each new release. It seemed like the boom times would never end.

Unfortunately, the overproduction of collector plates eventually flooding the market in the 80s and changing tastes caused the bubble to burst in the 1990s. Since then, all but the rarest collector plates have dramatically tumbled in value. While they‘re still beloved by many collectors, most Norman Rockwell plates sell for $20 or less on today‘s secondary market.

Identifying an Authentic Norman Rockwell Plate

Think you might have a valuable Norman Rockwell plate? Here‘s how to tell if you have the real deal.

Inspect the Back Markings

The quickest way to identify a genuine Norman Rockwell plate is to look at the back. The maker‘s mark will tell you which company manufactured the plate. Most will also have a printed or hand-painted limited edition number like "2500A."

In addition to the maker‘s mark and edition number, look for a copyright notation with the year, the name of the illustration featured, and Norman Rockwell‘s printed signature. Higher-end plates may have an actual artist signature from a Rockwell family member.

Here are a few examples of common markings:

  • Knowles: "Knowles Fine China, Exclusively Yours" with illustration title and plate number.
  • Gorham: Gorham logo and "First in a Series by Norman Rockwell" with copyright date and edition number.
  • Edwin M. Knowles China: Company mark with title and "Collectors Plate by Norman Parwell" notation. Plate number etched in gold.

Size, Shape and Material

Most Norman Rockwell plates were created in a standard collector plate size of around 8.5 inches in diameter. A few smaller series of miniature plates about half that size were also released.

The majority of plates are circular in shape with fluted or scalloped edges, sometimes rimmed in gold. A handful of less common series like Edwin M. Knowles‘ "Norman Rockwell Collages" featured rectangular plates.

The earliest 1960s Rockwell plates were made from earthenware or bone china, while most of the 1970s and later versions are crafted from high-quality porcelain. A few rare sterling silver and 24 carat gold proofs from the prestigious Frankline Mint are among the most valuable on the market today.

Original Packaging

To command top dollar, serious collectors prefer that plates still have their original packaging. Most were sold in blue styrofoam rings inside sturdy cardboard boxes with the series name and plate details printed on the outside. Many also had Certificates of Authenticity (COA) hand-signed and numbered by the manufacturer.

Never underestimate the value of that original box and COA! They‘re definitive proof of your plate‘s legitimacy and can increase the value significantly versus a loose plate alone.

What Makes a Norman Rockwell Plate Valuable?

The value of a Norman Rockwell plate depends on a variety of factors. Let‘s take a look at some of the most important:


As with most collectibles, rarity has a huge impact on price. Some Norman Rockwell series had initial editions as large as 15,000-25,000 plates, while extra-special editions might number 200 or fewer.

All else being equal, plates from a smaller edition will command higher prices than those with more copies on the market. Likewise, first editions in a series tend to be more sought-after than later issues.

Plates only available for a short initial ordering period or that required a special subscription are also more valued for their rarity, as are those that were released as a special artist proof edition.


Condition is king for collectors. Plates should be free of any chips, cracks, scratches, or crazing. Any damage will significantly decrease the value.

Remember, plates that have been displayed using a wire or metal hanging apparatus often get scratch marks on the front over time. Always use a soft, padded plate hanger to avoid damage – and be sure to dust them regularly!

The most valuable plates are those in pristine original condition, ideally still with their original packaging and certificates.


As you might expect, some of the earliest plates from the 1960s tend to fetch higher prices due to their age and scarcity. Later plates from popular limited edition series in the 1970s and 80s are also highly prized by collectors.

Special Materials

Rarer materials like sterling silver, 24k gold, and high-quality bone china can increase a plate‘s value versus those made from standard ceramic or porcelain. For example, a limited edition sterling silver Rockwell Christmas series from the Frankline Mint regularly fetches $200-300 per plate on the resale market.

Artist Signature

Plates actually hand-signed by a member of the Rockwell family like Norman Rockwell‘s son Thomas (an artist himself) command a premium, as do those from the Norman Rockwell Museum series. An authentic artist signature is always valuable to collectors.

Most Valuable Norman Rockwell Plates

Now that we‘ve covered the key factors that impact price, let‘s look at a few of the most valuable Norman Rockwell plates to come to market in recent years:

  • Frankline Mint Sterling Silver Christmas Plate (1976). From a limited edition of just 4500, these 8.25" plates made from solid .925 sterling silver have sold for up to $600 each at auction.
  • Gorham "The Colonials" Plate Series (1974-1976). These large 10.75" porcelain collectors plates depicted Rockwell‘s patriotic late-1940s illustrations of key moments in early American history. In top condition with the original box and paperwork, single plates from this series have sold for up to $400.
  • Edwin M. Knowles "The Rediscovered Women" Plate Series (1982-84). These charming plates were inspired by Rockwell‘s lesser-known illustrations of women from his early career in the 1910s-20s. With initial editions of just 15,000 and long-ago completed, these 8.5" rectangular plates routinely command $200 or more from collectors.
  • Knowles "A Day in the Life of a Girl" and "A Day in the Life of a Boy" Series (1980s). Two of Knowles‘ most popular series, these whimsical plates in editions of 15,000-17,500 chronicle a typical day for mid-century American children. Near-mint with boxes, they can fetch $100-150.

While those are a few outstanding and rare examples, it‘s important to note that the vast majority of standard Rockwell plates from makers like Knowles are not especially valuable today due to the sheer number originally made (often up to 25,000 per edition). Most commemorative Rockwell plates sell for $10-50 at antique malls, flea markets, and online.

Buying and Selling Norman Rockwell Plates

Whether you‘re looking to sell a special Norman Rockwell plate you‘ve inherited or are interested in starting a collection of your own, a little knowledge goes a long way! Here are a few tips:

Selling Rockwell Plates

Your best bet is to start with an online search for your specific plate on sites like eBay, Etsy, Collector‘s Weekly, or Worthpoint. Search for the exact plate title and manufacturer to see what similar examples have sold for recently.

If you have a rare or especially valuable piece, consider having it professionally appraised. Contact a reputable antiques dealer or collectibles specialist in your area.

When selling, be sure to describe the plate‘s condition accurately and provide detailed photos of both the front and back. Note any flaws like crazing, chips, etc. If you have the original packaging, be sure to mention that in your description as it can boost the value.

Price the plate competitively based on your research and be patient! Serious collectors are still out there, but these plates can take some time to sell.

Buying Rockwell Plates

If you‘re in the market to buy, decide on your budget and target series. Again, looking at "sold" listings online will give you the best idea of current market prices.

For rare or high-value plates, don‘t be afraid to ask the seller for additional photos or details about condition and provenance. If the price is high, you want to be certain you‘re getting the real deal!

Avoid plates with any noticeable damage or repairs. Condition is extremely important to retaining value over time. Whenever possible, seek out examples that have the original packaging and paperwork. They‘ll cost you a bit more, but will hold their value better in the long run.

Most of all, collect what you love! With his warm spirit and wry observations about American life, it‘s easy to see why Norman Rockwell plates have captivated collectors for generations.

Whether you‘re just starting your collection or are a seasoned pro, we hope this guide has given you valuable insights into the fascinating world of Norman Rockwell plates. Happy collecting!

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