How to Identify Antique Italian Ceramic Marks

By Rez Gopez-Sindac
Everyday items such as cups and teapots are common Italian ceramic pieces.

Antique porcelain collectors scrutinize ceramic marks before making a purchase to make sure the item is genuine and therefore very valuable. Italian pottery gained popularity during the Renaissance period, and wares carrying such names as Capodimonte, Bitossi, Maiolica and Deruta are regarded as some of the finest in design and quality. Identifying original ceramics can be tricky in an industry where imitations often look like the real thing. As they say, experience is the best teacher, but if you’re new, a good eye and a good grasp of history are your best ammunition.

Turn the Italian ceramic object upside down. Markings are stamped, impressed or painted on the undersides of plates, figurines, vases, teacups and other ceramic items.

Check if the underside has a round unglazed area, usually around the base. This is a mark of an original Deruta ceramic piece. The That's Arte website recommends turning the item upside down and touching the unglazed area – it should be rough.

Touch the edges of a tin-glazed ceramic item. Tin-glazed Italian wares, such as Majolica, have a tendency to chip. A genuine piece of Majolica likely has chipped edges. More information on this phenomenon is available at Antique Marks.

According to Italian Pottery Marks, look for a bold capital letter “B” followed by a period on the underside of an Italian ceramic piece. This is the genuine mark of an antique Bitossi piece. Bitossi ceramics originated in Montelupo Fiorentino, a municipality of Florence, Italy.

Check for ceramics with a crowned “N” mark. The Skynet link says you likely are looking at an antique Capodimonte. Antique Italian porcelain was produced at Capodimonte in Naples between 1743 and 1759. If the crowned “N” mark also bears the name “Ginori,” then the piece was made after 1890.

Tip

Familiarize yourself with as many Italian ceramics as you can. This will help you distinguish the fakes from the originals. The Old and Sold website shows a large collection of antique ceramic marks and gives their countries of origin.

Warning

Buy only from reputable sources.

About the Author

Rez Gopez-Sindac has been writing articles for major newspapers and trade magazines since 1990. She is the lead writer and editor for a nonprofit organization and the managing editor of its award-winning magazine. Gopez-Sindac travels to developing countries to interview children and families in need, writing about their struggles, hopes and transformation. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism.