What do Rd.Numbers mean?

There are many ways to place an estimate of a  date of production for factory-made pottery or porcelain. Most involve the stamped or incised marks used by the company over its history, other marks were the result of  international trade laws that are all well documented. Gathering these clues together is like solving a mystery, as each clue bring you closer to the answer.  One such marking can tell us a great deal from one quick look,  the “British Design Registry number”, or as some of us in the trade refer to it,  the “Rd. Number.”

Here’s an example of what a Rd. Number looks like:

Since 1884, the British Patent Office issued a registration number like this when a design or mark was registered.  As this is a British marking it also identifies in a glance that the piece is British.  The purpose of this marking was to indicate the design was protected, that any attempt to copy it would lead to legal issues with both the company that registered the design and the government that enforced it. The length protection for the design of the item depended on the material used in its construction ; Ceramic 9items such as pottery and porcelain were covered from piracy by competitors for a period of three years.

What the numbers actually tell us is the first year the design was registered for protection. In this  Rd. number above, “Rd. No. 56790,” indicates the mark was registered sometime in 1886.  As that the protection of such a marking was only good for three years, it would give us a date estimate of 1886-1889 could be reasonably accurate, but it should be noted the design could have been in production a great deal longer than three years. With the chart below you will be able to determine the earliest year of production for any piece of English pottery or porcelain that carries a Rd. number. It should be noted that Rd. numbers can also be found on metal and glassware items, this chart applies to these items as well.

Things are not always what they seem….

A Blue & White Swastika Pitcher


One of the peculiar factors about the antique business is the legends that grow up around some things, either from their owners or the dealers trying to add a little cache to them. Case in point is the piece pictured here.  Many times I’ve seen pitchers such as these labeled as being “Mid Victorian” items as they often carry no company markings. The fact is though, very few of this kind of pottery predates the turn of the 19th Century

Embossed blue & white pottery such as the one shown here were produced by a number of well-known mid-western companies such as Roseville and Brush McCoy, but they were deemed to be low cost utility ware for domestic use and, therefore, seldom marked. Originally, wares of this type were sold through mail order catalogues and general stores, and some were advertised premiums, to be given away with a purchase of flour, soap or lard.

The embossed decoration on some of these pieces have also led people to believe  their origins are from foreign soil, “War Booty” brought back by Grandpa during WW2 . It is easy to see how someone could be mislead though,  the pitcher shown is decorated with a swastika, which has led some to conclude that these were a German propaganda product. The truth is the swastika in this case has nothing to do with Nazi Germany. The type of swastika on it is a very ancient symbol used by many cultures world wide that predates the Nazi movement by thousands of years.  The word “swastika” is derived from the Sanskrit word “svastikah,” which means “being fortunate.” The swastika as used on this pitcher is meant as a good luck symbol and could be found on a great many items until it was made into a symbol of terror and oppression  by the Nazi’s during the run up to World War Two. Because these were  utility items, they led a rough life in kitchens, so they seldom are found in perfect condition. Many also often have manufacturing defects such as bubbles in the glaze which should not detract from their simple charm.

Insuring your Antiques and Collectibles

Insuring your Antiques and Collectibles

Chance are very good that if you collect Antiques, Collectibles and Fine Arts, over time they will have appreciated in value and may no longer be fully covered by your Home Owners insurance, or if not recently inventoried and appraised you may not receive their full value in the event of fire or loss. Homeowners insurance typically covers your home structure, garages and outbuildings, personal belongings,  accidental injury or damage to others and living expenses. Most personal belongings can be covered for specific perils or all perils, but often only be covered up to a set replacement value. If you have an inventory of your antique or collectibles and their value does fall under the limit of your standard home owners policy you generally won’t have much to worry about.

If any item in your Collections does exceed the set coverage in your Homeowners insurance you a a potential problem. To have proper protection for high value items, Fine Arts, Collectibles, and Antiques, you might need to place these items on a separate policy and include receipts and appraisals for their full market value. Don’t make the mistake many have when it comes to taking inventory of your belongings and put it off.  If you have everything documented and appraisal reprts with images of each item it’s much easier  to have your claim processed quickly and without loosing out on full recovery of their value. Always make sure you have a copy of your inventory, photo’s and appraisals stored off premises , such as a safety deposit box or even digitally on a portable thumbdrive in your car’s glove box or even online in a digital photo gallery. Another option is to video your collection, all of these options will help speed your claim along with the least amount of inconvenience and worry.

Mike Wilcox

Wilcox & Hall Appraisers

What is it Worth? The Mustache Cup


Majolica Etruscan Shell & Seaweed Mustache Cup

When ever a new problem crops up, someone will find a way to make a profit of it by providing a solution. Such is the invention of the “Mustache Cup”. During the Victorian era mustaches of all sorts flourished, being a form of male pride, with some men going to extreme lengths to grow a perfect example. The problem that cropped up was in order to maintain and shape these manly growths, it required the use of a special wax. This created a problem for men with these hairy affectations, because any cup of steaming hot cups of tea or coffee melted the wax and dripped it right into the cup and leaving the mustache a drooping mess, and the drink far from tasty or refreshing.

The solution to this problem, the “Mustache Cup”, was invented about 1860 by a  British potter named Harvey Adams (born 1835), His timely solution to this problem was quite simple, adding a the ledge with a hole in it to allowed the passage of liquids, but shielded the mustache keeping it fresh and dry. The popularity of these cups lasted until the beginning of the First World War, when clean cut military faces replaced the Walrus and handlebar mustaches that were in style through much of Victoria’s reign.

A great many Moutache cups originate from Staffordshire, England, Staffordshire  being during this time the largest production center of earthenware and ironstone pottery in the world, but cups of this type were made all over Europe, North America and even Japan. The piece shown here is an American example of  “Etruscan Majolica” . Etruscan was a brand name originally used by the pottery of Griffen, Smith and Hill, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, Circa 1879 and 1892.

Values for Mustache cups vary by maker, vintage and type, the most sought after being “Royal Commemorative” examples for Queen Victoria’s Golden (1887) and Diamond (1897) Jubilee’s and the Majolica varieties. Some rarer examples, even at auction can sell for over $400.00.  To get an appraisal for your mustache cup click here.


Dating tips for English Pottery & Porcelain II

diamondmark2This is the second of three Design Registry Markings . Deciphering  the 1867-83 mark is similar to the  1842-67 example that preceded it with some changes. The Roman numeral in the circle on top of the kite/diamond still represents the type of material the item is made from. EG. , it was used for metal, II for wood, III for glass and IV for ceramics. Note, though, that the four corners of this newer marking the codes have been rearranged. In this case  the number “9” in the top position below the material mark IV now indicates the day the registration was made. The number “9” on the left corner is the “Bundle number,” the letter “c” on the right side is now the date  letter for the year (see chart below). The bottom letter “R” is now the month code.
Using the chart below, it indicates that mark  above left is a registry date of August 9th, 1870. As with the original 1842-67 Kite/Diamond marking, this 1868-83 version is also used on metal and glassware items.

The date coding is pretty straight forward for both markings, with a few exceptions. For the first mark—used from 1841-1867—the letter “R” was used during the year 1857 between 1st and 19th of September. For the year 1860, the letter “K” was used between 3rd and 31st of December. For this second mark used 1868-1883, between 1st and 7th of March for the year 1876, the letter “W” was used for the year instead of the correct letter “D,” and the letter “G” was used instead of the correct letter “W” for the month.

Month Code Year Code (1868 – 1883)
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 1871
C 1870
D 1878
E 1881
F 1873
H 1869
I 1872
J 1880
K 1883
L 1882
P 1877
S 1875
U 1874
V 1876
X 1868
Y 1879

Dating tips for English Pottery & Porcelain I

Using Identification Marks: What’s a Kite Mark?

diamondmark1There 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.  The example on the right is what the first version of the “Kite” or “Diamond” mark—used from 1847-1867—looked like.

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 H on the left corner indicates the month, the number 7 on the right is for the day the registration was made. The bottom number “9” 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 April. 19, 1857. It should be noted that this marking can also be found on metal and glassware items.
Month 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

Year Code

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