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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