Why the marks are important:
The object of a ceramic trade mark was to enable at least the retailer to know the name of the manufacturer of the object, so that re-orders, etc., can be correctly addressed.
In the case of the larger firms the mark also has publicity value and shows the buyer that the object was made by a long-established firm with a reputation to uphold; such clear name- marks as Minton, Wedgwood, Royal Crown Derby and Royal Worcester are typical examples.
To the collector the mark has greater importance, for not only can he trace the manufacturer of any marked object, but he can also ascertain the approximate date of manufacture and in several cases the exact year of production, particularly in the case of 19th and 20th century wares from the leading firms which employed private dating systems. With the increasing use of ceramic marks in the 19th century, a large proportion of English pottery and porcelain can be accurately identified and often dated.
How marks are applied:
(b) Impressed into the soft clay during
manufacture, many name-marks such as 'Wedgwood' are produced in this way from
metal or clay stamps or seals. These have a neat mechanical appearance.
(c) Painted marks, usually name or initial
marks, added over the glaze at the time of ornamentation, as were some stencilled
(d) Printed marks transferred from
engraved copper plates at the time of decoration. Most 19th-century marks are
printed, often in blue under the glaze when the main design is also in
Information on the method of applying each mark can be of vital importance, for instance the early Chelsea triangle mark must be incised not impressed, as it can be on 19th-century fakes.
General Rules for dating marks:
(2) Pattern Name:- Printed marks incorporating the name of the pattern are after 1810.
(3) 'Limited' Company Marks incorporating the word 'Limited', or the abbreviations 'Ltd', 'Ld', etc., denote a date after 1861, and most examples are much later.
Mark:- Incorporation of the words
'Trade Mark' in a mark denotes a date subsequent to the Act of 1862.
(5) Royal:- Inclusion of the word 'Royal' in a firm's title or trade name suggests a date in the second half of the 19th century, if not a 20th-century dating.
(6) Registered number:- Inclusion of the abbreviation R N' (for Registered Number) followed by numerals denotes a date after 1883 (see Registration numbers).
(7) 'England':- Inclusion of the word 'England' in marks denotes a date after 1891, although some manufacturers (Thomas Elsmore & Sons for example) added the word slightly before this date. 'Made in England' denotes a 20th-century date.
was William McKinley (the 25th president of the USA) who introduced the highly
protectionist McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 - this imposed tariffs on many
imports (including pottery) in order to make it easier for the American
manufacturers to sell their products. It was a requirement of this Act that
all such imports carried the name of the country of manufacture.
(8) Bone China:- Use of the words 'Bone China', 'English Bone China', etc., denotes a 20th-century date.
Questions and comments to:
updated: 7 September 2004