Pottery Marks - Fakery Or ‘Influence’


WL 1895 - A Genuine Fake Mark By Wong Lee Not a William Lowe

WL 1895 - A Genuine Fake Mark By Wong Lee Not a William Lowe

WL 1895 - A Genuine Fake Mark By Wong Lee Not a William Lowe:- China Marks Article - Thank you, Peter, for an interesting pottery marks general information article. I have a some further knowledge which I can pass onto your visitors in the area of English ceramics.

Looking at the WL 1895 on very distinctive well made and old looking wares put me in mind of a superb irony. This mark is that of modern day Chinese factory Wong Lee. It is trying to look very European in an antique sort of way (1895 etc etc).

For centuries we were trying (and failing) to find the secret of Chinese porcelain so as to make ceramics which looked like it was Chinese. The Japanese had learned the secrets from captured Korean potters, who had learned the techniques from the Ming Dynasty Chinese potters.

The pottery marks which are most often found on English china wares are not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all of indicating excellence. For example, many good pieces are actually un-marked, and others have pottery markings to the highest degree – but are faked.

The point to remember though is there are two types of mark which can always be regarded as more or less secure and impervious to forgery.

They are:

The impressed, incised, or embossed mark put on the wares, when the paste is wet, before the first firing.

The under-glaze marks, often in blue, applied to the body when in biscuit form

The more likely to be dubious pottery mark is that which is put on over-glaze, especially in gold or enamel.

So factory ceramic marks are all of great significance. For example; the in-house artisan’s which are evident on, say Worcester chinaware or Bristol where each painter was assigned a number.

Remember too that the crossed Saxony swords of Meissen do not necessarily denote a Dresden piece because the same symbol was appropriated by great makers Derby, Coalport/Caughley, Bristol and Worcester.

The blue Worcester crescent is found at Bow and Coalport/Caughley, and the wares themselves are not dissimilar.

You can trace the origin of the Worcester square mark to a Chinese seal of 1662-1722 and almost identical square devices can be seen on Derby, Chelsea and Bow wares.

Is this fakery? Of course the answer is no.

There is a dividing line between fakery and ‘influence’. One is fine and dandy, the other is not.

Is the WL mark of Wong Lee fine? The 1895 just pushes it over the edge of not being fine.....


ps. The picture shown above is an example of a true fake. The ceramic mark has been passed off at auction as a genuine William Lowe (an English maker based at the Sydney works, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England 1874-1931. It is made by modern maker Wong Lee and the '1895' is apparently there only as a celebration to denote the end of the war between Japan and China. Does anyone else spot the irony of the modern day china makers faking western makers whilst, for centuries we were trying to fake there wares?



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Keywords:- A Genuine Fake Mark By Wong Lee Not a William Lowe

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More tricky Pottery mark identifications are handled here:- my vintage and antique pottery mark identification page.

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Comments for Pottery Marks - Fakery Or ‘Influence’

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Pottery Mark - A Great Contribution
by: Peter (admin)

Dear Frank

Many thanks for your input into our pottery marks page. I can see you know your stuff and those tips are a great supplement to our page.

I would welcome anyone else who has stories or specific knowledge on pottery or porcelain marks to contribute too. Feel free to mention your website or off-line business or books.

Best regards


wong lee or fake
by: Anonymous

frank i have a piece with the supposed wong lee marking but my vase is numbered with the number 173 in the same ink and i dont find anyone else with the numbers help


Reply by Peter (admin)

These type of additional numbers are not meant to be anything other than factory production codes for internal use, so not of any real significance to anyone apart from the production team and possibly current stockists for re-order. It may be a colour reference, or some such.

Peter (admin)

Re: Fakery or "Influence"
by: TJ

Thank you for your insight on WL 1895. I recently went to an auction where the auctioneer stated the Mark of WL 1895 and said this "Could be" a William Lowe - being the that Wong Lee mark has been “outed” for some time now myself - and many others instantly corrected the man that this indeed was NOT a William Lowe (I'd be surprised if he didn't previously know that) - However I have two excellent Wong Lee pieces that I paid about $250 for about 6 years ago - It is a pair of Horn shaped Drinking Steins with gorgeous ornate brass (typical of Wong Lee) coverings and stein lids - Heavy and very detailed.

The one question I have is that although Wong Lee's are more recently made (1990's and forward) and to my knowledge the pottery and porcelain designs are not copies of William Lowes but rather originals of Wong Lee. Could we not start seeing a fair market value established for WL 1895? So many buyers are turned off by the rhetoric that Wong Lee's are "Fakes" that they steer clear of them - When in reality they are originals - I Think it's obvious to consider that the original release of the WL 1895 mark was at the very least deceitful in one way or another but there also now seems to be an established knowledge of the marking and the history of the marking. However, as long as there are folks trying to pass it off as something other than what it is I don’t know if that distinguishing quality of a Wong Lee will ever really see it’s true value. I for one love my pair of Horn Steins and am not looking to sale and I don’t consider them “Fakes” as when I bought them I had no idea who William Lowe or Wong Lee were – only that these are great pieces and I’m glad I own them.

Thanks TJ

I agree
by: Peter (admin)


I agree with you entirely. The pieces Wong Lee put out have great merit in that they look good and are difficult to make and design and are pure originals.

I have said this before on this site, and think the real blooper for this company was to try to disguise their pieces as being older by using the 1865 mark with a faux Staffordshire looking pottery mark shield device.

The fake 1865 date has been excused by the marketing people as being to do with celebrating some historic date in China (the Boxer Rebellions or some such).

Of course, now, instead of people admiring fine contemporary interpretations of beautiful old style china wares, everyone just talks about fakes.

This is very very bad marketing, and the marketing department should be fired instantly (if they haven't already been).

Peter (admin)

Wong Lee
by: Anonymous

O.K. this is a very old thread but here you go for anyone wanting to know about the W.L. William lowe - Wong Lee Porcelain. Wong Lee is in his own right a true artist, because of his oriental heritage and french renaissance style, he has been labeled a fraud. This is truly a shame. PLEASE research William Lowe marks and you will see that they do not resemble one another, The initials are the same W.L. and the date of 1895 is not intended to deceive but a commemorative date of the end of the war in China (It is true, the war was ended for 100 years, this date was added at the beginning of production in 1999" There are over 100 years of dates to choose from, Why this date? Because it has significants to its creation. His pieces have NEVER been advertised as antiques, except by uneducated antique dealers. Some of his pieces have even been labeled "Not intended for food" Any professional artist that glazes with enamels will many times use leaded glass as the colors are much more rich and vibrant. This is typically for cloisonne. I am an avid antique collector of fine items, French, English, and Italian. I personally own two large Wong Lee urns. Now, nothing beats the luster and beauty of a fine kept french piece...if you are willing to spend $12,000 dollars and for most, this is a no-brainer, That's a lot of money. But if you appreciate beautiful things, Wong Lee's pottery are BEAUTIFUL hands down, well made, heavy, vibrant with excellent bronzes. Yes, they are from 1999 to date, new things are being created every day and not everyone inspired by antique design are frauds, A person who sees a lovely antique and says to themselves "I want to do that" is a testimony to that awe-inspiring form making you want to recreate the period with true artistry, not a "half-ass" copy sloppily painted and cranked out in sweat shops for profit. You will find that the really only likeness is the fact that they are made in the french renaissance period, he is also known for English-inspired pieces. It is a true shame that he has been labeled as such. So just remember the next time you see a piece of WONG LEE "W.L. 1895" Piece and appreciate its design and elegance as they are truly beautiful. Please research William Lowe Marks "Court China With English Crown "KIANG" W.L. L. Made in England. How is this confused with Wong Lee. Many porcelain marks use an English crown, and some authentic marks so closely resemble one another that they look nearly identical, I must disagree when it is stated that Wong Lee pieces are intentional to deceive. Also, anyone that sees a nice Wong Lee piece can easily ascertain that though they are very much influenced in the French and English style, they are greatly influenced in oriental decoration and application to raised glazes and motif.

pottery marks
by: Marsia

I have two candle holders and bowl with handles and with lid of this pottery.
Candle holders have numbers and same china words.
what that mines.
Thank you very much

Nice Try, but I don't buy it
by: Peter (admin)

Thanks to the anonymous poster for that article in defence of Wong Lee's back-stamp mark.

However, whichever way you try to glorify it, the mark with an 1895 date on the mark is setting out to at the very least to be economical with the truth. At worst, it's just a fake mark.

Either way, I still think the marketing department who dreamt that up should be fired.

I am a ceramic maker and I truly know how difficult it is to make the type of beautiful wares we see with a Wong Lee marking.

The guys making this stuff have my respect and appreciation. The guys tasked with branding it made a huge mistake by using a label which could be misinterpreted. If you try and justify their mistake, you are also culpable in that very silly process.

Nuff said.

Peter (admin)

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