Cabinet Tea Set with no pottery mark apart from "FOREIGN"

by Joanna

Cabinet Tea Set with no pottery mark apart from

Cabinet Tea Set with no pottery mark apart from

Cabinet Tea Set with no pottery mark apart from "FOREIGN":- Hi to everyone at this fabulous website, please help...... My mum gave me the coffee set that my dad had bought her at the end of the sixties beginning of the seventies, and it spent years and years being lovingly cared for in my mums glass cabinet (the same glass cabinet that i think everyone's mum had). My mum and dad divorced many years ago (28)and then it spent it's life in my mums garage, during a clear out she asked me if i would like to have it, i took from my mum but i thought i could maybe find out a bit more about it.

I have the coffee pot and six small cups and six small saucers my mum does not think that she had the sugar bowl or milk jug.

My mum can't remember where my dad bought it from and we can't even guarantee that it was in this country as my Dad was a long distance lorry driver and travelled everywhere from Germany and Poland to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

I saw the other post from the guy with the Foreign mark but my coffee set is so different to his that i was intrigued.

I would be extremely grateful if you could shed any light on where this may have come from, i am not sure if it is bone china, porcelain or even if the gold decoration is actually gold.

It would be wonderful to find out if it was actually worth anything then i could treat my mum, as my dad was a total pig to her for many years it would be great to think that he could cause her a small bit of happiness...

Please help..

many thanks


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Peter (admin) says:-

Hi Joanne

Thanks for your complement about the website and your touching story.

I don't think these sets are worth all that much - perhaps the cost of a nice meal out, but I am no expert on values, and you really need an expert assessment. Put it this way, this is a nice set, but not Meissen.

However, I think you have maybe helped with a clue to another long-standing query (here Gold Crown Pottery Mark with no other letters or devices).

The items are not the same pattern nor do they have the same mark, but somehow they look similar in style and make. The clue is the sheen of the glaze which has a kind of lustre and the branch decoration details. Below is a detail from that page compared with this page:


On that page, I go on to conclude that these sets are likely from a German maker under the name of the Gräfenthal group operating behind the Iron Curtain, and the date is after 1972. Go to the page for further explanation.

The set shown on that thread have a single gold crown mark and nothing else to give any clues as to their origins. Significantly, Somer, the posts author, shares with us a report written by an expert who says this is German or Austrian cabinet ware.

I believe your set to be from the same maker from the
same 'cold war' period - likely made in the 1970's.

So the question is - why does the mark 'foreign' appear on this set, but a different gold crown mark on similar produce from the same maker?

Here's the explanation:

A 'foreign' pottery mark on a ceramic item, unfortunately gives little, if any, indication of the country of origin or date of manufacture, despite what other online sources may say.

So it's a case of narrowing down the various possibilities of what maker might have used that type of marking and then taking a careful look at the make, quality and decoration style of the peice in question and then hazzarding a guess of the origin.

Initially, in the late 19th Century, country of origin laws (aka C.O.O.L.) were introduced in both the UK and US, as a response to the rise and strength, in particular, of German export industrialisation and protectionism. In the US, the act was called the 1890 The McKinley Tariff Bill, and in the UK it was the 1897 British Merchandise Marks Act.

Breifly, at first, before the US act was revised, imported goods were simply marked 'foreign' in some cases, but after that, ceramic items should, in theory, have had the country of origin clearly marked. However, this is not an accurate dating mechanism for the use of the word foreign on china crockery, because the foreign marking was used fairly extensively in the following types of settings:

- During the cold war (post WW2), the USSR (including countries within the Soviet block like East Germany) were reported to have exported ceramic goods to the USA & UK using the word 'foreign'.

- German factories from the early to mid 20th century are also said to have used the foreign stamp for export to countries like Hungary or Bulgaria. Other sources suggest the contrary, that during this period, if the figurines were exported from Germany to the UK, they had the 'foreign' mark, but the "GERMANY" stamp was used for elsewhere.

- The Chikaramachi branch of Japanese makers Noritake (and possibly other factories) are reported by to have used a 'foreign' pottery mark from about 1928 to 1946 for porcelain intended for the UK market, instead of the usual 'Made In Japan' or other more usual marks.

- The interchange of goods between the USA and UK may have seen each others export goods marked as 'foreign' during the early to mid 20th century, rather than having the full country of origin.

So, we have to be careful of ascribing a fixed dating chronology to the 'foreign' backstamp.

In your case, what is my guess as to origin?

I believe these may well be, as the expert stated, a German cabinet set, likely from USSR/East Germany production (specifically likely the Grafenthal group) which was exported to one of the European countries your father visited, and so having the 'foreign' backtamp rather than the gold crown mark as seen on items exported to the UK or US.

This would explain why some of these types of very similar sets have differing pottery marks. Simply, they were made for different destination markets which had different C.O.O.L. labeling requirement.

Hopefully, that's of some help, I liked your submission very much, so thanks.

Best regards

Peter (admin)

For general free advice on how to research your collection, I wrote these pages:

My vintage and antique china values page

Comments for Cabinet Tea Set with no pottery mark apart from "FOREIGN"

Click here to add your own comments

by: Anonymous

I have a tea set with the only marking on it is 'foreign' it was my uncles wifes mothers wedding present when she married in 1914 she would love some information about the set

'Foreign' stamp
by: Anonymous

Does 'Foreign' not relate to a period when the Japanese were forbidden to identify pottery made there, and had to stamp it 'Foreign', particularly pottery being made for the Western markets.


Reply by Peter (admin)

The US legislation relating to this origin labelling in the US is Mckinlay act of 1890. Similar laws pertained to the UK called the Merchandise Marks Act 1887, to mark foreign produce more obviously.

At first in the US, goods had to be marked as 'FOREIGN'. This act was soon revised to follow Britain's lead who had already made German imports say the words 'Made in Germany'.

However, despite these revisions, the 'FOREIGN' marking has still been used periodically. Like when West German potteries post WW2 marked 'Foreign' for export to the Iron Curtain cuntires. The US also allowed the word 'FOREIGN' on imports from the Cold War soviet union in the mid to latter part of the 20th century.

So the word 'FOREIGN' can't tell us too much about the age of an item and we must look for other clues.

With regard to Japanese imports, ceramic products can be marked 'Foreign', 'Nippon' or 'Made in Japan'. In the 1890's the new acts resulted in the wares being marked 'Nippon'. Then, in 1921 a revision in the law required all products to be marked in the English language, so "Made in Japan" was used instead.

However, the legal revisions of the 1930’s allowed clever operators certain loopholes in the country of origin law.

This meant that, effectively, imported ceramic products, especially from the 1960s onwards, did not have to have a printed/fired backstamp either under or over glaze.

Therefore, wares from the Soviet Block and the Far East only had to have a label indicating country-of-origin "in the same form in which it was imported" up to the point it reached the end-consumer.

After that point, the label, for example, a sticky or paper label, could be discarded.

This wording of the law allows for many ceramic items from the Far East second made in the second half of the 20th century to be legally free of any need for country of origin labelling whist placed on the secondary market. Furthermore, unwrapped items were exempt from the country of origin laws, so if they were brought in without wrapping, the law did not apply. The tariff law was finally liberalized in 2002.

Best regards

Peter (admin)

marks on figurens
by: wendy

Hello I have some figurens which has
Germany with five numbers impressed on them plus forelgn a crown mark could you tell me anything about this please

by: noel

Definitely German or Austrian. Loads of porcelain to the UK marked this way. Especially interesting are the souvenir items, with "a present from (wherever) Noel

tea pots marked foreign
by: angela

I have two small teapots that are both marked with the word foreign.they are identical both look chinese or japanise but have instead of a oriental partern on them ,pictures of a welsh woman in traditional welsh clothing on with a little girl in traditional atire in front of a castle.
Would be interessting to know if they were actually made in wales and how old they could be.

Thank you for any help provided

Similar set
by: Kay

I just googled foreign 09. My moms, that I'm sure came to canada with her from Scotland. Tying to figure out what to do with it. 6 small cups saucers teapot sugar bowl and creamer.

sugar bowl
by: PAM

I have a small sugar/lolly basket which has FOREIGN 9I3 under the glazing and a gold 71 over the glazing. can anybody help me.

Vase with Foreign mark on , Japanese Scene
by: Chris

Dear Peter and everyone,

I also have a vase with a red Foreign mark underneath. The scene is Japanese landscape with some traditionally dressed women hanging out in the garden. I suspect that it is an oriental product from the second part of the 20th century though I can't really tell more. It may be made in the Europe to pretend that it was from the the far east. I do not want to open a new post for it but of course I can send in some photos.

I have just signed up to the list but I think that I may as well ask it here first. I have loads of questions and I may open a new post for my Thun 1794 Czeck decor' plate.


by: Angel

Hi .
FOREIGN is the name of the company who design this kind of China. This item is from the 1950's .. It's vintage .you can check on ebay for the price of something similar.

Not new
by: noel

Sorry Angel, but you are incorrect. I've been in the antique china business for 35 years. Most of the items marked this way went from Germany to England.

by: Anonymous

Hi . FOREIGN is the name on continental porcelain (made in Czech or Switzerland and other surrounding countries.The porcelain age would be more than 50 years old.Try to find further informations according to the floral pattern on ebay or etsy ..Value will increas on how old the item .. Hope my humble knowledge will help you. Best of luck.

Approximate price
by: Melak

The teapot price can go from 50 - 100 $ ,& the two cups and saucers can be 20-25 $ each .200 $ is the maximum price .If you need to ship them to the buyer outside your country,you need to multiply the total price by 3 ...

China marked Foreign
by: Anonymous

I have a tease marked Fine Quality Porcelain foreign
markings of a crown and underneath a house?

porslin figures
by: tina nicolina / SWEDEN

just bought 2 chines figures , a boy and a girl, he has red pants, black chines shirt little hair and a stick in his hand,, she has a red dress , flowers in her hair and missing the stick, white and green "plate " and gold line on it! about 8-10 cm high and it is marked foreign under both ! feelt it was something special about it,, can you help me ?

more FOREIGN info
by: noel

this page gives quite a bit of information:

Pink chinese tea set.
by: Angela

I've got pink chinese tea set with foreign stamp on it it's got a Chinese dragon on cups and if you put it up to the light you can see chinese lady at the bottom of the cup I'd like to know more about it was my great grandmothers.

pink tea set
by: noel

Your set is Japanese, probably just before 1920. It is a "Geisha" Lithopane in the bottom. Very popular at the time.

Lots of them to see here

small tea set with brass stand
by: Anonymous

My gran passed away many years ago and i was given this lovely tea set that sat in her glass side board I used to always say I would love to play with that I was told no so just had to look at it instead. It's got a pearly colour trimmed with gold rim at top of cup and the same with the small saucers their is six small cups the size of an espresso cup and six saucers the saucers sit on the bottom on the rack and the cups hang on hooks at the top it is very pretty but I have no where to put and don't no how old it is I no it's older than me 52 don't no we're it was bought but my grandad was in the army in Germany. Is it worth any money if not should I give it to a charity shop thank you for taking the time to read this

by: Anonymous

Hello my grandmother gave me a condiment set with squirrels on, say foreign on it she hit first engagement gift in the 40s any idea what it worth not that I want to sell just curious

Another cup
by: Anonymous-naz

I also found a mug in a bin labeled "FOREIGN". I don't know who thrown it, but I took it and bringed at home. It's a nice cup, with a handmade flower painted on a side.

Czecho marking
by: Anonymous

I was given a 17 peice tea set, gorgeous blue floral patter with a lot of gold gilt. I looked at the bottom and printed is the word CZECHO along with a four point crown marking. there is also something tiny on bottom hand painted in the same gold gild but I can't make it out. I have researched forever and can find nothing that has the words CZECHO on it.

by: neil

Your pieces are by a company called Noritake, based out of Japan. If you search for your pieces searching Noritake, you will find it. I researched for several months to find mine. good luck.

Foreign NEW
by: Jaqqi

Hi I have a beautiful heavily embossed with gold leaf and rasised decoration Chinese or Japanese figures tea service, with the word Foreign on the bottom.. how can I upload a picture to show. Thank you

Tess NEW
by: Anonymous

I have a gold and cream coloured tea / coffee service. The pattern is striped with a check pattern midway around each piece. They are quite heavy so not sure what they are made of. I have the tea pot and trivet, coffee pot or water jug, sugar bowl and milk jug. Can anyone tell me what this might be. There are no clues on the bottom as to who made them. I bought them from a Dutch Woman , who is quite old.

Tea Set with "FOREIGN" with Japanese Dragon scene NEW
by: JeanP

Mine is a tea set - with tea pot and small size saucers and cups a milk and sugar jug with a Japaneses dragon scene in Green and Cream colours.

My set has the same "FOREIGN" sign at the bottom of each item.

by: Truly

My little Yellow Teaseth Palm trees on says 2 Foreign 19 on the underside..What does it mean ? Please help ?

printed mark 'Foreign" on figurine NEW
by: Rury

I had bought a statue of lady in pastel green dress with with a light holder stick at her back. There's only a printed mark "Foreign" with incised number 44471. Should it be made in Germany in early 20th century ? Thank you

German NEW
by: noel fowles

It is German and dates around 1900. You just have to look at the coffee pot.

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