To explore or find marks simply enter the key words that describe the mark you are identifying. Alternatively you can browse the articles by period, country, or in the random order that they were written. If you would like to add your own marks to the site – please get in touch through the comments area below (your comments won’t be published)
Collecting old chinese pottery and porcelain is not as expensive as some might have you believe. For example in Spain there is a love of Blue and White that spans generations and cultures, so you can find pieces in most places that you look and many will be chinese. However, whilst very old and splendid pieces might horribly expensive, small piceces can still be bought by people with limited budgets – if they have the enthusiasm to look.
The two rules to remember are 1) Having a mark on the bottom, like the reign marks in the picture for this article, does not mean that it really dates from that period and 2) Having no mark at all does not mean that it is valueless just that the piece did not need to be stamped to sell – so was probably not intended for export.
So what does the reign mark on Chinese porcelain mean?
Yes it can mean that the piece is of the period. As you get more familiar with handling pieces (which you can do in antique fairs and shops – where they will be dated for you) you will find that there are other indicators, texture, technique, composition, colour and style that help to date each piece.
In most instances where you see a reign mark outside a museum though, it is because Chinese potters and the porcelain Studios adopted the styles of earlier generations and, if they felt the piece passed muster, would honour the memory of past masters by dedicating their piece to that period. It wasn’t originally done with the intent to defraud (tho’ it is now). It was done to say that the pot, vase, bowl, teaset was an homage to earlier artisans and the creator was proud to stand his work next to pieces of that period. A ‘don’t go old, go bold’ gauntlet to traditionalists. So many marks indicating a period before 1722 will be “apocryphal”.
Halfway through the reign of the Emperor K’ang Hsi (various spellings) he declared an abhorance of the idea that anything not intended for his and palace use should bear his mark. So it was banned with serious life threatening punishments for any infringement. Only royal porcelain was permitted to use the mark. So, after he died, everyone did it – therefore most marked K’ang Hsi pieces aren’t from the period unless they date from the beginning of his reign. Yung Cheng pieces tend to be genuine and although the post 1795 period was prolific in using older marks (including Ch’ien Lung to appeal to Western Markets), any thing carrying a post 1795 reign mark is generally what it says it is – ‘Made in China’ pieces are post 1891 – and Republic – post revolution.
Sampson Hancock was started in Tunstall around 1858. In 1870 they relocated to the Bridgeworks in Stoke. Primarily an Earthenware manufacturer, Hancock’s popular wares were inexpensive. (the hand drawn numbers in the picture are pattern numbers)
were used between 1858 – 1891
was used from 1858
S. H. & S.
S. H. & Sons
1891 – 1935
Other marks from this factory - including ones using the word MAGNET or THE “DUCHESS” CHINA – all either feature the company initials or the factory name within the design. The word England was added after 1891.
Marks featuring a Crown with the word
on its own, underneath are NOT made by Sampson Hancock and Sons – they are either Gater, Hall and Company (1914 – 1943) or by Barratts of Staffordshire (who took over Gater Hall in 1943). From 1943 on they also used a mark incorporating the words
The Höscht factory was founded around 1746 and the early to mid 18th century pieces often feature cherubic children, putti and plump shepherdesses and their beau’s in small scenic displays with plants and small animals gambolling romantically on the edge of the main scene.
Lead designer was Johann Peter Melchior
The factory closed in 1796.
If you have examples we could use to illustrate this post, we would be pleased to feature them with links back to your pages.
Item from www.antiquesreview.info
I have the above urn vase (see pictures).
Please let me know what it is & when made
Thank you for your question – Its certainly an interesting piece.
The mark and general appearance seem to be consistent with pieces from the Rodolstadt Volkstedt area (Germany, Thuringia). I believe the mark is that of
Triebner, Ens and Eckkert 1876-1894
and as there is no other mark on the base I would suggest that it dates between 1877-1886
Royal Copenhagen has used the three wavy water lines to identify their porcelain since it started in 1775 – Early pieces frequently include a dot in front of the waves. The mark was not very consistently drawn, often with quite flat waves that look quite rushed- presumably each workman had their own slight variant until about 1820.
Hand drawn lines usually indicate manufacture before 1885. The example to the left is pre 1840.
Between 1885 and 1890 the lines are more uniform – either done with a three nib pen or as a print.
From 1889 a circle was added over the lines – inside which was a crown between the curved words Royal Copenhagen.
From c. 1890, export ware featured a small crown over tiny waves over the word Denmark (spelled in English) in a circle over three larger waves. The circle was dropped from non export marks.
Between 1894 and 1897 a variation of the export mark was used without the circle and the tiny waves, however these are easy to spot as this is the only period in which DANMARK, the Danish word for Denmark, was used.
In 1897 until 1922 the words Royal Copenhagen replaced the circle. Separated with two dots (one each side of the word Royal) the words sit above the three wavy lines.
1923 had two variant marks – one an ornate crown over waves with no text, the other the crown that was used in the post 1923 mark, but over the word Denmark, over the waves.
The printed mark in the bottom picture has been in use with subtle variations since 1923 the principle difference between this and the pre 1923 mark is the combination of the factory name and the country of origin – again spelled in the English way as Denmark. All Royal Copenhagen marks that include text are printed in capitals in a non-serif font.
Dating indicators were first added to the Royal Copenhagen mark in 1935. There were two types – Lines were used underglaze and dots used overglaze, they are quite distinctive and easy to see.
Look for a line under or over the letters (note from 1985 the line covers two letters).
Line over the top of the letter – ROYAL COPENHAGEN – R = 1935, O=1936, Y=1937 etc through to N=1949
Line under the letter – ROYAL DENMARK COPENHA - R=1950, O=1951 Y= 1952 etc through to A=1967
From 1968 to 1974 the mark stayed under the G
From 1975 until 1979 the line moved to the E
From 1980 until 1984 the line moved to the N
From 1985 to 1991 the mark covers both the R and the O
From 1992 to 1999 the mark covers the Y and the A
From 2000 to 2004 the mark covers the A and the L
As before look for a Dot above or below the letters – to make life complicated the years run from the end of the word to the front and the words are repeated… so…
Dot under the letter - KRAMNED - K=1935, R=1936, A=1937 through to D=1941
Dot over the letter - KRAMNED - K=1942, R=1943, A=1944 through to D=1948
Dot under the letter – NEGAHNEPOC - N=1949, E=1950, G=1951 through to C=1958
Dot over the letter – NEGAHNEPOC - N=1959, E=1960, G=1961 through to C=1968
Dot over the letter – ROYAL - L=1969 to 1973, A=1974 to 1978, Y=1979 to 1983, O=1984 – 1988, R=1993
So the modern sugar bowl in the picture dates from between 1969 and 1973.
NB There is a separate code for the crown and Denmark mark (that excludes the factory name) which will be covered in another article.
In this area will be posted the basic clues to identifying a piece’s age, country of origin and maker/manufacturer. I am sure that, as the site develops, there will be many pieces incuded where the manufacturer’s name is written on the bottom – but what is not always clear is the age of the piece…
Most people will recognise that:-
1) when a piece is clearly marked in English with its country of origin then it was almost certainly made after 1891. The word “England” on its own suggests that the piece was marked after the 1891 McKinley Tariff Act (a few pieces were marked in anticipation of trade restrictions – but almost all are post 1880)
2) Pieces marked with “Made in England” tend to indicate that they were made after the First World War.
3) “Registered Numbers” (Reg, Reg’d) appear in the mid to late 1880s.
4) “Trade Mark” and “Ltd” appear most commonly on china made after 1860
5) The word “Royal” on a piece suggests that it is likely to be Victorian, as does the diamond registration mark.
6) Royal Coats of Arms are occasionally late Georgian but, more commonly, Victorian.
but what about the pieces with registration marks? Are you comfortable about reading these? If the piece is only marked with a squiggle or a crown – or only a few numbers – are you confident that you know the manufacturer? Articles added over the next few weeks will start to answer some of these questions…
Paris Porcelain – Numerous porceleain manufacturers and decorating studios flourished in Paris from the mid eighteenth century until nearly the end of the nineteenth. Competition was tough and the decorating quality was very high, so it was not unusual for the bases of the porcelain to have considerable detail – right down to the address from which more could be purchased!
This example is by M Lerosey who founded this porcelain decorating studio at 11 Rue de la Paix around 1880. Dating between 1880 and 1890, this mark not only shows his name, but also his address at 11 Rue de la Paix. Several Rue de la Paix manufacturers have been identified – Lerosey, himself had several studios along the road – going back over 60 years to around 1820 when he worked with J Rihouet. As one of the earliest studios in the road this one is actually simply known as Rue de la Paix – Lerosey’s earlier mark only differs from the 11 Rue de la Paix example by the number – 7 Rue de la Paix. The following two pictures give an idea of the overall quality of the pieces produced by Lerosey.
For interest – another studio along the road was 18 Rue de la Paix, founded in 1818 by Ferdinand Brunin – who signed his work Ferdind Brunin, rue de la Paix no. 18
Limbach Thurungia, Germany. Late Eighteenth century. Typical hand drawn clover mark used after 1788. The factory closed in the middle of the 19th Century. This teabowl pattern is not unique to the factory – but the quick strokes and confident decoration is. They specialised in quickly produced, simple wares.
The teabowl’s large size fits with it being late eighteenth century. As the tax on tea was lifted and tea became cheaper to import – Tea drinking vessels (which had been small to savour and not waste an expensive and precious commodity) became larger and larger – just as tea caddies went from incorporating locks – to simple lidded boxes and jars. Limbach factories using this mark included:- Greiner (1778-), Groszbretenbach (1788-), Kloster-Veilsdorf (1797-) and, according to Cushion, it may also have been used by Ilmenau 1786-1792.