Ancient figurines have been discovered in archaeological digs the world over. As art and figurine mediums evolved, talented artisans and companies began putting markings on figurines to identify the maker. Markings are also called signatures, ceramic marks, porcelain markings, maker’s marks, logos, backstamps, trademarks or pottery signs. The marking can be hand-drawn, painted, stamped, incised or on some type of paper. Identifying the marking can sometimes be difficult without a professional appraisal, but many books and websites are available to aid your research.
Enter the information found beneath your figurine into an Internet search engine. The information found on a maker’s mark can indicate the importer, exporter, name of the factory or decorator, name of the potter or pattern, or the location where the figurine was made.
Search online photographs to compare your figurine’s mark to posted photographs. If the figurine has a clear logo for you to use in comparison, enter "figurine maker’s mark" or "figurine mark" into a search engine. Compare photos of markings to the marking beneath your figurine.
Search online for maker’s mark websites for china and figurines. If your figurine is silver, pewter or other metal, the mark is called a hallmark, and you will need to look for figurine websites specializing in those materials. Many of these websites have thousands of marks to peruse, but you have to pay to access the photographs and illustrations. Some websites have a contact form to request one free query.
Searching in Books and Stores
Go to a library or bookstore, and browse books featuring maker’s marks for china and figurines. Many books concentrate on only one maker or company due to the sheer volume of marks used. For example, over a period of 100 years, Noritake has used more than 400 marks on its products.
Search online bookstores or websites for books related to the information beneath your figurine, or about china and figurine maker’s marks in general.
Search china and antique stores, and compare the maker’s marks on products sold there to the mark beneath your figurine. The details provided on tags, price tags or purchase information may lead you to identifying your figurine.
Seeking a Professional Appraisal
Consult the telephone book for china or porcelain appraisers.
Call the appraisers and ask if they identify maker’s marks. Appraisers charge a fee for this service.
Take your figurine to an appraiser. An appraiser can provide you with your figurine’s value.
Popular porcelain figurines are often reproduced. An appraiser will be able to tell an authentic figurine from a less valuable or valueless knock-off.