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The Collector’s Minute: Porcelain and Pottery Markings Reference Points

by Mike Wilcox (11/16/09).

This mark was used on French Quimperware pottery made by the De la Hubaudière factory from 1883 to 1895.

This mark was used on French Quimperware pottery made by the De la Hubaudière factory from 1883 to 1895.

You might wonder when watching the appraisers at “Antiques Roadshow” just how they can determine so much information about a teacup or platter simply by turning them upside down. The fact is the markings that are stamped, painted or impressed on the underside of most ceramic items can tell a great deal about a piece other than just its maker.

What the appraiser is looking for is historical reference points that they have learned through years of research and study of pottery and porcelain items. What few people are aware of is that it’s not just the name of the company name—such as Rookwood, Weller or Royal Doulton —stamped on the piece that tells the tale, but a number of things used within the mark itself. The actual dating of a piece is much like detective work, and the company name itself only gives the appraiser a rough timeline of when the company was known to operate.

Other factors, such as the color of the mark, how it’s applied or the numbered codes within the design can often date a piece to the exact year it was produced. Famous companies such as Wedgwood, Minton’s, Derby and Worcester have all used a variety of numerical or symbol codes that, with a quick look in a reference book, will provide the exact date of production.

Even without a reference of pottery/porcelain marks there are a few “Pro Points” that you can copy or memorize to help you date pottery and porcelain:

• Small, hand-written marks tend to be pre-1800s.
• Kite-shaped marks with ” Rd.” in the center are English and were used from 1842-83.
• Printed/stamped marks in colors other than blue tend to be post-1850.
• The use of the word “Royal” before a company name tend to be used after 1850.
• The use of the term “LTD” or ” Limited” appear after 1860.
• The use of the word ” Trademark” tends to be used after 1862.
• The use of registration numbers such as “Rd No.10057” begin in 1884.
• Items marked Nippon generally date from 1891-1921.
• The name of a country with the stamp indicates where the piece was made dates from 1891.
• Company marks in gold, or the mention of “24K Gold” on gilded pottery or porcelain is generally mid 20th century.

These are not hard and fast rules, as there are some exceptions, depending on the individual company. In the case of the stamp shown at the top of the column, it’s one of these exceptions. This mark was used on French Quimperware pottery made by the De la Hubaudière factory from 1883 to 1895. It is hand-painted, whereas the “rules” would indicate it should be a pre-1800 piece.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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7 Responses to “The Collector’s Minute: Porcelain and Pottery Markings Reference Points”

  1. Sue Mabie says:

    I have two questions. One related to an old family “stoneware jug” marked Sipe Nichols d CO, then just below it Williamsport P then a large number “2″ and a leaf in blue just below that.

    Also wanted to ask about quadruple plate marked 266 (don’t have it in front of me at this time)and wondering if it can be polished or cleaned and if so, how? I have several pieces, i.e., creamer, sugar, pitcher. Any value in this at all or just keep for decorating if I wish?!?

    Thanks SO much for your help, Sue :o)

  2. Rob says:

    Just an important note for collectors: Most of the pieces made pre-19th century do not bear marks at all. I come across collectors not knowing this on a regular basis. It would help if this information would now and then be included, but appraisers tend to forget to share this knowledge…

  3. Rodolfo Giusti says:

    Dear Sirs,
    Could you tell me if the Porcellain markings reference points regards also antique chinese porcellain ?
    Thank you
    Rodolfo Giusti

  4. Cindy Smith says:

    I have a small pitcher with the Victoria Ironstone mark, similar to the one I have seen on your site. It is 6″ tall, 41/2″ circumference,has a fluted opening and what appears to be a “dog” shaped handle with the mouth gripping the top and the legs separate from the body at the base of the handle, making it three pronged. It is a blueish white with a blue village scene, probably mexican.I believe it to be a reproduction but would like a price estimate.Thank you.

  5. Pottery says:

    Wow, wonderful story. I just now found your site and I am already a fan. :)

  6. hello i am in need of abit of help i have a royal doulton crockery set if is a full one its has a code of t.c 1014 its forest glade i would like to no how much this is as i have no need to have it any more ive never used it and i would like to sell it pls could u get back to me and how much it worth thank u very much

  7. Niels Holm says:

    I have two figurines A boy about to send a dove with (love)letter and the shepardess about to receive it. The figures are rococco style, but are probably younger. the are marked with a blue (underglazing) marking looking like a bishofs staff ( a line ending in an open spiral with small crossmarkings ) but also with a four digit number with a fairly modern design (uncolored). They have been in the Family since at least 1880, possibly longer.
    Do you know what they are??

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