I often get questions like this:
It is 5 inches in length and has small gold wings. I assume this piece is a fisherman but it did not come with a pole. Other than that it is in perfect condition. On the inside the only thing that has glaze on it is the mark MEM, as the picture illustrates.
I am just a little bitty collector, a new little bitty collector, in a really huge world of porcelain and pottery and I have found I spend hours and hours researching pieces that I have purchased or want to purchase. Any information you can give me would be wonderful.
From your description I can tell this piece is not Chinese. It could possibly be Japanese, from mid 20th century, but I have no way to tell. The treatment of the mark does not sounds like the Japanese practice.
Researching pieces is otherwise part of the fun, but I feel you need to have some really good books yourself to start with. Books you could find through my book links. I think "The Scholar's Bookshelf" might have some inexpensive books on marks and possibly some special ones on decorative figures.
Then you need more people to discuss with. On my LINKS page you find addresses to USENET news-groups who can help on all kinds of antiques and collectibles.
I think Kowel's have something on line too, and you will also find a link to "Heartland Discoveries" expert panel.
eBay also have a pottery discussion group, and to search eBay for something similar - once you have got a clue what to search for - is always a good idea.
If you feel your porcelain piece could be Chinese or Japanese you are always welcome to me.
Finally - came to think of it - one way to collect is to just buy whatever you like, and sort the pieces up afterwards. I have done some of that, when I visit China. It is quite fun to buy things that looks interesting but you have absolutely NO idea about what it is, who made it, when and - why - and then try to figure that out later.
You would not believe the amount of trash that might accumulate after some of that kind of shopping - but - it's fun.