Using Identification Marks: What’s a Kite Mark? Part I

An example of what the first version of the “Kite” or “Diamond” mark—used from 1847-1867—looked like.

There are several ways to place an estimated date of production for factory-made pieces of pottery or porcelain: some involve the marks used by the company over their history of operation, others required by International trade laws that are all well-documented. Putting all these clues together is a lot like solving a mystery, each clue bringing us closer to the solution. One such marking can tell us a lot from one look is the British Design Registry mark, or as some in the trade refer to it, the “Kite” or “Diamond” mark.

This marking granted protection of the design for a period of three years from use by other companies without permission or license from the design’s owner. With this mark, it gives us a start date on the window of production. If the piece is also carries a company marking, it can be cross referenced with Diamond/Kite mark to indicate a quite accurate date range.

Two different Diamond/Kite Marks were used: Beginning in 1841, the British Patent Office issued a registration mark (like the one above) when a design was registered. Learning to recognize this mark will make it easy help date any item carrying it easy and make you look like an expert.

The markings on it indicate more than just the date of registry. Reading this mark is fairly simple:

• The Roman numeral in the circle on top of the kite/diamond indicates the material the item is made of. For example, the numeral I was used for metal, II for wood, III for glass and IV for pottery/porcelain/and other ceramics.
• Notice on the four corners of this marking you will find a series of letter codes, each with their own meaning. In the case of the letter L in the top position below the material mark IV, it indicates the year (see chart below). The letter R on the left corner indicates the month, the number 19 on the right is for the day the registration was made. The bottom letter P is what’s called the “Bundle number” —basically a filing designation for the Registry office itself—and really does not tell us much without actually contacting the Registry office itself.

Using the chart below, you can see the mark above indicates a registry date of Aug. 19, 1856. It should be noted that this marking can also be found on metal and glassware items.

Month Code Year Code
A = December
B = October
C = January
D = September
E = May
G = February
H = April
I = July
K = November
M = June
R = August
W = March
A 1845
B 1858
C 1844
D 1852
E 1855
F 1847
G 1863
H 1843
I 1846
J 1854
K 1857
L 1856
M 1859
N 1864
P 1851
Q 1866
R 1861
S 1849
T 1867
U 1848
V 1850
W 1865
X 1842
Y 1853
Z 1860

To read Part Two of this article, click here.

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

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