Every collector knows that the quickest way to identify a piece of pottery or porcelain is to identify the mark, but sometimes it's unreliable because marks are often forged and changed. This is a listing of the better-known marks and backstamps and enough information so that you can learn more about your porcelains. Research and experience will tell you if the color, texture, weight, design, or general "feel" of the piece is right. This will help you identify the mark.

The marks are listed according to their shapes. Some marks are made up of letters listed in alphabetical order. Some marks look like a circle, square, bird or animal shape, etc.

There are many problems with company names. Obviously, the original name of a German company was in German. When translated, several possible forms could have been used. In some cases, it is an comfortable translation. If the initials in the mark were directly connected to the foreign name, it may have a more awkward translation. In a few cases it is the foreign title.

Reading the mark's date is relatively simple. "1895–1900" means the mark may have been used during those years. If it is a date such as "1895+," it is not known how long after 1895 the mark was in use. "ca.1895" suggests a general time period. The date could have been used at any time during the years on either side of 1895.

The factory dates are more difficult. Most of the time they are from the first year that any predecessor company worked until the last year any successor company worked, provided that the name or management was continuous. Two companies frequently merged into one and the mark was used for the new company so it is dated back to the oldest company with a direct relationship to the mark. For example, the mythical company of "Ralph Ltd." was founded in 1820. This company bought "Terry and Son," a company started in 1840. If the new firm took the name "Great Pottery, Inc.," it would then be listed as dating from 1820. If "Terry and Son" had bought "Ralph Ltd.," the new company would be dated from 1840. The information was often sketchy and sometimes conflicting. The successor company, if it is still in business, is listed at the bottom of the mark caption.

There is some confusion in any reference containing Delft marks. The Delft factories had a special way of registering their marks, and the factory names which were registered are often misspelled. Here each factory name is written in Dutch and then translated into English, so you will be able to find these names in other sources. Because each writer spells these names a little differently and each century saw a change in the actual way the Dutch language was written, each name is in its modern-day Dutch spelling. Often, for the Delft factory, a person's name may be listed instead of a factory name. This is usually an artist or the factory owner and is important for further research.

The marks were chosen primarily so this listing would be useful to the average collector. The majority of marks date after 1850. Some are current marks. (It may be disappointing, but it is important to know you do not own an antique). Most of the marks listed are from the United States, England, Germany, and France. Some factories are represented by many marks because each one gives dating information. Some firms have only a single mark that was in use for many years.

There are two marks that need separate explanations; the Sevres mark and the English Registry mark. Both are in charts listed in our identification help section.

 

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