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.

Antique 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.

11 responses to “Antique Pottery & Porcelain Marks Identification Guide”

  1. Marilyn Hallgren says:

    looking for mark found on porcelain polar bear approximately 15 inches wide and stands about 8 inches tall. Mark found inside is a diamond with a capital “R” in the center with a “D” on the left and a “P” on the right. I know it has been in my immediate family at least 80 years. Any help would be appreciated. My father was from Denmark but I not sure it would be Danish. It could be from another European country.

  2. CinFulCim says:

    I have a pottery tea set left to me by my late Mum. She’s had it since before 1964. It has a red diamond marking on the base of all items. It says, “ON TOP “Hand Painted” CENTER; ” E.A.C.”, ON BOTTOM; “Made in Japan” I know it’s a Dragon ware Tea Set with cups, saucers, Tea pot, Creamer & sugar bowl with salad & dinner size plates. No scratches, chips, cracks & has NEVER been Used. I’m trying to find out some kind of back story on it

  3. Broerie says:

    i just find the S marks! where are the other ones ???????????

  4. kovels.com says:

    @EclecticEndeavors, glad you like our print products. We hope that you find the website to be a valuable resource as well. Our marks information is organized by shape and letter. For example: if you see a circle mark on a piece of pottery select “Pottery & Porcelain Marks”. Then select “circle or oval” in “Mark Shape”. If you have more information such as a name in the mark you can then put it in the filter and it will narrow the options even more.

  5. EclecticEndeavors says:

    I just signed up. I can’t find a catalogue of years dates so I can look through all marks from 1930’s. I should have tried the trial basis first but Kovells have such a good print reputation. Hope I didn’t make a big mistake.

    I can’t look through thousands of marks, hoping to spot the mark I need. It is very blurry on the object to the point I can’t read it. Maybe I just don’t know how to use Kovells yet.

  6. babipuffin says:

    Hi,
    I cannot find the mark on your site. It is marked on a gravy boat and under plate. It looks like a lion or animal with its tongue sticking out.
    Can anyone help?

    Thank you!

  7. manylittle says:

    i tried to look up a pottery mark beginning with R but when I searched for the letter R in your marks, it came up with all letter S’s. I Think you have lost the ‘R’sl

  8. Violinman123 says:

    A Selmer Mark VI with a serial number under 80,000 is the Golden era. The next bump up is 127,000. The ones under 80,000.are worth much more. You also want to look at the finish. If it is the original finish you can tell by the scribe lines which should be very clear. Either way A selmer mark VI is the holy grail od Saxophones.
    Steve Sassano

  9. nancykb says:

    Mark on bottom shows ‘crown’ with large W and 1764 shown under W

  10. nancykb says:

    Value of 7.5 inch hi young boy and girl holding flowers . girl is seated – boy is standing

  11. nancykb says:

    Value of 7.5 inch hi young boy and girl holding flowers

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