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Pottery marks, also known as hallmarks, tell us a lot about the history and origin of antique pottery. Knowledge of these marks can help collectors spot bargains and avoid fakes. It is an essential skill for anyone seeking to build a collection or acquire antique pottery. In this guide, we will look at the types of marks you’ll see as well as some common maker’s marks and how to identify them.
Remember, these are just some examples of antique pottery manufacturers and their corresponding maker’s marks. There are many other pottery manufacturers and marks that are not listed here. Doing thorough research and consulting reference materials when identifying a specific maker’s mark is essential.
Delft is known for its distinctive blue and white color scheme and its intricate designs, which often depict scenes from Dutch life and history. The most common pottery mark from Delft is the “Delft” mark, which consists of a jar, the letters JT combined together, and Delft. This mark was introduced in 1879.
Greuby is known for its high-quality Art Nouveau-era pottery, which was made by hand and featured subtle designs and decorations. This Greuby reads “GREUBY FAIENCE Co / BOSTON. U.S.A.” These words encircle a flower, and the stamping was used on most of the company’s products. Though the company was short-lived, there were a few other hallmarks of note.
Meissen is known for its high-quality white porcelain and delicate designs. The most prolific pottery mark includes the crossed swords mark, which is used on Meissen’s high-quality porcelain. The mark, which consists of two crossed swords, is one of the most famous and recognizable pottery marks in the world—and has seen many slight updates over the years.
Moorcroft is a famous English pottery company that was founded in 1897 by William Moorcroft. The most iconic antique pottery mark from this company is the hand signature of William Moorcroft, as either “W. Moorcroft” or “W.M.” These signatures were usually accompanied by a factory mark and a pattern or shape number. The painted signature/initials evolved over the years and started coinciding with a simple “MOORCROFT” marking. Read the book linked above for more hallmarks.
Roseville is a famous American pottery company known for its iconic art pottery. Some valuable pottery marks from Roseville include the “Roseville” mark, the “Roseville U.S.A.” mark, and the style number mark. Roseville pottery can be tricky to identify because its marks seem random with several variations. Older antique Roseville pieces are sometimes marked with “ROZANE WARE” or have a paper label that’s often missing (leaving the piece unmarked). To see a larger selection of marks, including some must-know reproduction markings, review the book linked above.
Rookwood is known for its high-quality art pottery and clay tile. The most valuable pottery mark from Rookwood is the “ROOKWOOD” mark with the year of manufacture, which was used from around 1882 to 1886. Several other marks, including the backward R P initial mark, followed.
Spode was founded by Josiah Spode and is known for its blue and white transferware, including the famous Blue Willow pattern. The most common pottery marks from Spode are the “Spode” mark, which was used on most of the company’s products, and the “Spode’s Stone China” mark, which was used on high-quality bone china.
Wedgwood is a famous English pottery company that was founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood. Some valuable pottery marks from Wedgwood include the “WEDGWOOD” mark and the “Wedgwood & Bentley” mark, which was used on pieces that were made in collaboration with the famous English potter Thomas Bentley. These marks were sometimes used in conjunction with a date number.
Types of Marks
When appraising a piece of antique pottery, look at the bottom, the lid’s underside, and the rim’s inner surface first for any markings. However, before correctly identifying anything, you must understand the types of marks that may be present. Some marks you might find include the following:
- Potter’s mark or maker’s mark. This mark is usually a logo or symbol that represents the potter or pottery workshop that made the piece. Potter’s marks can be found on the bottom of the piece, and often include the potter’s initials or name.
- Country of origin mark. This mark indicates where the pottery was made and is required by law in some countries. Country of origin marks can be found on the bottom of the piece and often include a country or city name.
- Date of manufacture mark. This mark indicates the date when the pottery was made. It can be found on the bottom of the piece and often includes the year of manufacture or a serial number.
- Glaze or finish mark. This is a less common mark that indicates the type of glaze or finish used on the piece.
- Design or pattern mark. This mark indicates the design or pattern of the pottery.