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There are two types of porcelain; hard-paste, and soft-paste. The easiest way to learn to tell the difference, is to find some broken porcelain of each type, and to examine it thoroughly. Of course, read the following first! Hard-paste porcelain is fired at a much higher temperature than soft paste, and hence has a very cold feel to the touch. Chips from it are flint or glass-like; it has a hard, glittery glaze which is fused to the paste. Soft paste , fired at a lower temperature, was much less stable in the kiln, figures in particular were difficult to fire. Meissen was one of the factories which perfected this art, and no English figures can compare with them. A file will cut easily into soft paste (I suggest you don't try this at home!) and chips from it are granular. It feels warmer to the skin. Ones mouth is particularly sensitive to this, and with practice, it's quite easy to tell the difference between the two types by feeling them with the lips. Because of the difference in firing temperature, the glaze is softer, and does not fuse with the underlying paste in the same way as it does with hard paste. Glazes, therefore, have a tendency to pool and craze, and early soft paste was prone to discolouration. As a point of interest, soft paste was discovered/developed in the mid C18th by English potters in search of the method of making hard paste porcelain, the secret of which had long been guarded by the Chinese. Soft paste was generally superseded by hard paste, sometime known as "true" porcelain, by the late C18th, when the technique was perfected in Europe.