Unloved Antiques: Capodimonte Ceramics

While some early Capodimonte ceramics sell well, most aren’t very collectible.

I don’t have a week go by that I don’t get a call or email about a “fantastic” piece of Italian porcelain by “Capodimonte.” It’s nearly always claimed to be an inheritance, as I don’t recall actually meeting anyone who admits to buying a piece of it.

For those of you unfamiliar with this type of pottery, it’s a very over-the-top mix of Rococo and Classical Revival, generally heavy with high-relief florals and cherubs playing a supporting role holding candlesticks, bowls, lamps and pedestals.

Because of its highly decorative nature, it’s often considered to be much older and more valuable than it really is.

While genuine early Capodimonte pieces can be very valuable, nearly every piece we run into today was made for the export market and post-dates the Second World War.

While Capodimonte-style porcelain is made all over Italy today, the original “Crowned N” mark used by the original company, like the name Capodimonte itself, has become a generic term to describe any Italian, colorfully embossed porcelain, even if it was not produced by the original pottery.

The “Crowned N” mark of Capodimonte was used by the original pottery and by a subsequent potter that continued the style.

The original Capodimonte company was formed by King Ferdinand IV, son of King Charles, who opened a factory in Naples in 1771 and began to use the mark of the blue crown and “N.”

When the factory closed in 1834, the Ginori family at Doccia, near Florence, acquired what was left of the factory and continued using its mark. The factory continued until 1896, when it was then combined with Societa Ceramica Richard of Milan, which continues today to manufacture porcelain.

Values for the mid to late 20th-century Capodimonte pieces tend to be modest overall, depending mainly on the quality of the decoration and current condition. Pieces like the two pictured above often sell at auction for less than $150 for the pair.


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

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2 Comments

  1. Will says:

    Mike, I have a pair of Capodimonte lamps that I am assuming were made from urns. They are 19th century and great. They are also easy distinguishable from that garish later stuff that is pure over the top. I think it is important that the reader knows that the older pieces are generally easy to spot as the molding, paint and glaze quality easily stands out from the later pieces. Their work continued to get increasingly sloppy unlike the modern Dresden.

    Spotting the older pieces and buying them at the newer prices, can also result in a quick score. Here is a nice box that sold on eBay at $2500 and there are dozens of additional pieces in the Worthopedia at over $1,000.

    http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/capodimonte-large-porcelain-box-ca-57145857

    The odds are probably 1 in 1,000 that the piece in the flea market is old. Bur then the newer ones are so bad you do not even need to bother to pick them up to look at.

    • Mike Wilcox says:

      Hi Will, a lot of 19th Century vases and urns were converted into lamps when their value was considerably less than it is today, I’ve even seen some stunning Japanese bronze vases converted in this way, the conversions done in the 1920’s. In regards to Capodimonte, the quality is all over the map with the later pieces, but I have seen some very good post war pieces that would be hard to tell from Dresden ( some German porcelain also bears a Capodimonte Crowned N marking), but much of it is others like you, pretty sloppy in regards to decoration.

      The best thing any Novice collector of Capodimonte or any European porcelain could do to verifiy what they have would be to use our services here at Worthpoint, such as Ask a Worthologist https://www.worthpoint.com/askWorthologist/index or our Marks & Library http://www.marksandlibrary.com