You might be intrigued when watching the Expert Appraisers on “Antiques Roadshow”, just how they can find so much information about a teapot or gravy boat simply by turning them upside down. It’s in the marks, the facts are markings that are stamped, painted or impressed on the underside of most ceramic items can tell a great deal than just its maker.
What the Appraiser is looking for is documented reference points that they have learned through years of research and study of ceramic items. What few people are aware of is that it’s not just the name of the company name, such as Royal Doulton, Sevres or Meissen printed or stamped on the piece that tells the story, but indicators used within the mark itself. Dating pottery and porcelain is much like detective work, and the company stamp on its own only gives the appraiser a rough time line of when the company was known to operate, in some case the marking used for several years without change
Other factors, such as how it’s applied, the color of the mark or the numbered codes within the design can sometimes date a piece to the exact year it was produced. Well documented companies such as Wedgwood, Minton’s, Derby and Worcester have all used a variety of date coding systems that using a reference book will provide an exact date of production.
Even without a reference of pottery/porcelain marks there are a few “Appraiser Tips” that you can copy or memorize to help you date most Ceramic items:
• Small, hand-written or symbolic marks tend to be pre-1800s.
• Kite/ Diamond shaped marks with ” Rd.” in the center are British and in use from 1842-83.
• Printed/stamped marks in colors other than blue tend to post date-1850.
• The use of the word “Royal” before a company name tend to be used after 1850.
• The term “LTD” or ” Limited” appear after 1860.
• The word ” Trademark” tends to be used after 1862.
• Registration numbers such as “Rd No.10057” begin in 1884.
• Pottery & Porcelain marked “Nippon” generally date from 1891-1921.
• “Country of Origin ” marks Eg. “England” date from 1891.
• Company marks in gold, or the mention of “24K Gold” generally date mid 20th Century.
Wilcox & Hall Appraisers