Trefoil shaped bowl, mark looks like crescent moon and stars
(Baltimore, MD, USA)
Pretty, but odd bowl
Hello everyone! My name is Laura and I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
A few years ago, I started buying and selling antiques and vintage items. I also have my own rather eclectic collection, of course. I have always loved old things, particularly if they’re pretty.
That fascination may come from having spent quite a bit of time in Britain and Europe as a child, as well as traveling in the U. S., touring museums and historical sites with my family. Humanity’s past, especially in the decorative arts, is a rich tapestry that I love to explore.
I used to have “normal” 9-to-5 jobs, but I’ve got chronic pain, and I find that being self-employed allows me to decide when to take breaks, and better care for my health. I also just vastly prefer being my own boss. I was a good employee, when I was an employee, but I like to make my own decisions.
Beautiful porcelain and pottery is particularly attractive to me. When I first started buying things at auctions and estate sales, I used to buy quite a bit of it. Most of my business is conducted on eBay (store here:
and I find that ceramic items are just too difficult for me to pack and ship, particularly with my health challenges. These days, I concentrate on buying and selling small items like costume jewelry and trinkets. I still have to almost sit on my hands at an auction, to avoid buying pretty pieces of porcelain and pottery.
The piece I’m going to ask about today is something that I simply could not avoid buying.
My mystery object is a lovely large bowl in a fluted trefoil shape, with handpainted decoration of exotic plants. Some of the leaves on it look like Coleus leaves to me, but the flowers don’t look like anything that would come from the same plant.
I think it may be soft paste porcelain, but I’m not sure how to tell the difference between that and stoneware. The unglazed foot feels a bit rough and gritty, not like very smooth porcelain.
I thought this bowl was pretty and unusual, and I was tempted to buy it. I really wasn’t going
to. I was going to sit on my hands again. That was until the auctioneer got no bids from anyone else on this item, and I found it impossible to pass up the opportunity to buy it for the minimum bid.
The marks on the bottom are the real mystery. I have searched all over the Internet for a mark like the one on the bottom of this bowl.
The mark looks like a red stamp of a circle with 3 dots in it. The dots are off to one side, and the other side of the circle is thickened in a crescent shape.
I suppose with a little imagination, it could be a moon and 3 stars. Next to that are the handpainted numbers “1457.” and “l.” or “1.” There is an impressed mark in the center of the bowl, which is very hard to read, but it looks like “20.”
My initial thought was that maybe this bowl was from Austria. I have a gorgeous Art Nouveau vase from Austria, which is very different from this, but there was something about the floral decoration and the handpainted numbers on the back that reminded me of that vase.
After trying to research it for a few days now, and failing to find anything like it, my current thought is that maybe it’s English.
I would guess that perhaps it was made in the mid-to late 19th century, and that the decoration reflects exotic influences from the many British colonies at the time. In any case, the lack of indication of a country of origin leads me to believe that it’s a 19th century piece.
I would really appreciate any help that the members of this forum may be able to give me with this. I usually find that I can eventually identify mystery items, because I love the process of researching them, but this one has me stumped.
Reply by Peter (admin)
Thanks for the fab post. An interesting mystery. I am with you . . . Totally stumped.
Yet I had a thought I may have seen it before somewhere, but can't think where.
Hopefully we'll get some help with this.