China Chat - Vintage & Antique Pottery Marks of France

Here are the two main things to remember about the vintage and antique pottery marks of France (we have discovered most of this stuff thanks to our China Chat posts - scroll to bottom of the page to browse them).

1.  Sevres, established in 1756, was a factory located in south west Paris, enjoying royal patronage and a monopoly, which used a detailed system of markings from the outset.

2.  Limoges is an area in the middle of France about 200 miles south of Paris, not a factory.  It is a region rich in mineral deposits suitable for making high quality porcelain.  Many factories were set up in this region, all being classified as 'Limoges'.

French faience came into being in 1689 when King Louis XIV needed money, so taxed tableware made of gold and silver.  A new breed of French entrepreneur quickly began to make copies of brightly decorated Italian earthenware perfected by the makers of Faenza.

Before the discovery of the Limoges deposits the making of true porcelain was not really possible on any scale in France.

French porcelain began at a place called Saint-Cloud around 1695. 

They weren't making true porcelain at that time, just a softer glassier version made from a mixture of clay, chalk, sand and flux.

This paste was difficult to work with, broke easily and was impossible to make larger items with.  Yet the resulting work could be exquisite. 

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By 1710, the Germans had discovered the secret of how the Chinese made porcelain using china clay and china rock (feldspar).

The French didn't take long to follow. 

Once the German secret had filtered out through an early example of industrial espionage, the French were on the hunt for white gold about a quarter of a century later.

What were the early French antique pottery marks?

Vincennes/Sevres

The correct recipe for true porcelain took some time to become public knowledge (1735). This prompted a group of Frenchmen to found a porcelain factory at Vincennes, east of Paris, with the express purpose of emulating the German Meissen work.

So in the town of Vincennes in 1740, the French tried to begin to understand how to make true porcelain. Detailed and systematic antique pottery marks of France were begun at Vincennes, in 1753.  This was about the time that the factory won Royal patronage and a monopoly on all decorated porcelain wares.

Below is a small selection if authenticated Vincennes/Sevres marks.


There was all-round excitement at the exquisite wares and technical genius of the soft-paste art ceramics. By 1756 the works had been moved to a south western suburb of Paris called Sevres, close to the royal palace of Versailles.

With failing finances, the King bought the factory outright in 1759.

Limoges

By 1771 the rich deposits of Limoges had prompted the building of porcelain manufacturing plants for fine porcelain production.

The important time for Limoges in terms of quality was from 1771 to the 1930's. After that, changes in tastes and economic circumstances meant Limoges produce became less high art and more functional in character.

Limoges antique pottery marks will be put on underneath the glaze onto the china body.

These whiteware marks denote that the piece was decorated after the mark was added. 

Therefore, by logical conclusion, marks placed on over the top of the glaze were placed there by the retailer, importer or decorator. 

After 1891 imported goods to the US and UK had to have country of origin.

This may suggest items without the work 'France' might be either for the domestic consumption of made prior to 1891.

About French Faience

In 1689 King Louis XIV needed money, so decided to tax people who possessed silver and gold tableware.  Needless to say, the popularity of earthenware increases almost overnight in France.  The French notice that the region of Faenza in Italy has mastered the art of earthenware ceramics, so seeks to do the same.  Calling the new industry after the Italian city - French 'faience' is born.

The pottery is tin-glazed and emulates Chinese porcelain by the use of opaque white glazes. The decoration fuses and blends with the top glaze, so looks as if it has a white ground like porcelain, but will, in fact, be revealed to be brown or beige if chipped.  Ceramic artists are  able to achieve a very fine variety of highly colored and beautiful designs with this method. Famous makers include Badonviller, Bordeaux, Choisy le Roi, Creil et Montereau, Dèsvres, Gien, Limoges, Longwy, Lunéville, Orchies, Quimper, Sarreguemines, St. Amand, St. Clément

The vintage and antique pottery marks of faience in France


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3. China Chat - French Marks

Below are the China Chat archives for French markings

French Pottery Planter/Cachepot Mystery Hand Written G Pierced with Arrow Mark 
French Pottery Planter/Cachepot Mystery Hand Written G Pierced with Arrow Mark:- I am an avid antiques collector and regularly attend tag sales and …

Single Initial Script "M" Pottery Mark on Art Nouveau Vase? 
I am trying to identify my Art Nouveau style teal or green colored pottery vase with brass overlay decor. It has 2 handles, like a small urn or amphora. …

544 or 5LL marked on base of two handled ornate vase/urn with painted panel of angel on a swing on blue ground 
544 or 5LL marked on base of two handled ornate vase/urn with painted panel of angel on a swing on blue ground:- Our mother passed away a couple of years …

Pottery Mark Query J with wheat and circle gold 
Pottery Mark Query J with wheat and circle gold:- I have several small saucer plates with hand painted pictures of birds, I am trying to identify the …

Anchor Mark Query - Boys Playing Marbles Figurine 
Anchor Mark Query - Boys Playing Marbles Figurine:- I worked at an antique store about 2004 for two days. In payment for my work, I agreed on the pottery …

Anchor mark on Romeo & Juliet Porcelain Figurines pre 1920 
Anchor mark on Romeo & Juliet Porcelain Figurines pre 1920:- These belonged to my grandparents, who were from New York City and he travelled the east …

N with Crown Above Pottery Mark Query on Biscuit Barrel Jar with Napoleon Portrait 
N with Crown Above Pottery Mark Query on Biscuit Barrel Jar with Napoleon Portrait:- I purchased this porcelain Napoleon biscuit jar at a reputable antiques …

Delft pottery mark query- E 4 8? 
Delft pottery mark query- E 4 8?:- This large bowl has been in my family since 1915 or so. It's been handed down a few times and I hope to pass it on …

Incised 'W' or Wavy Line Pottery Mark on 25 piece pot-de-creme set 
Incised 'W' or Wavy Line Pottery Mark on 25 piece pot-de-creme set:- This 12 covered cups, 2-level tray set was given to me by a friend who is 'downsizing'. …

Limoges Ashtray - 'J' pottery mark within a shield within a wheat wreath within a circle 
Limoges Ashtray - 'J' pottery mark within a shield within a wheat wreath within a circle:- I cannot find info on the mark on this ashtray. it is a blue …

limoges pottery mark query - crown that looks like a series of large loops 
limoges pottery mark query - crown that looks like a series of large loops:- Found a piece of what i think is limoges today. It is a trinket box, with …

Delft "trinket box" with Fish Mark 
Delft "trinket box" with Fish Mark:- I really know nothing about pottery marks, and have tried researching this at the library and on the internet without …

French Floral Pitcher K & G Pottery Mark 
French Floral Pitcher K & G Pottery Mark:- Hi, All I know is this pitcher has been in my family's possession for a long time. What can you tell me about …

Sevres Mark Query - Urn with Ram Handles 
This urn with ram handles was given to my grandmother by her elderly neighbor when she was a young mother. It has been sitting in my aunts attic for years …

Pottery Mark Query - Fancy Ornate Planter with Numbers on Base 
Pottery Mark Query - Fancy Ornate Planter with Numbers on Base:- Please help me to identify the maker of this vase/planter. As a young girl early to …

LIMOGES PORCELAIN BOX WITH 'PV' POTTERY MARK 
LIMOGES PORCELAIN BOX WITH 'PV' POTTERY MARK QUERY:- Hello, I just acquired a little ceramic and enameled pill box or Trinket Box at an estate auction …

Limoges Peint Main mark G? 
Help me find this artists mark. I'm a collector of English china (especially Shelley which I adore) and Staffordshire pottery. I have a reasonable sized …

Pottery Mark Query- Choify Le Roy HB et Co Paris Crown, Shield, Fleurs de lis 
I have researched this mark in the past and am hoping to find more information about it. I’m very happy to have found this site to see if anyone else …

H&Co L - a mark of Haviland & CIE or not? 
Hi Peter, I've worked in the construction industry for many years,and always been interested in antiques, so as a hobby for the last 18 months I carry …

Pottery mark M.P. Déposé on French Cognac Decanter Bottle 
Pottery mark M.P. Déposé on French Cognac Decanter Bottle:- The pottery mark is on the bottom of a 71/2 inch high, 33/4 inch square jug with a handle. …

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