Johnson Bros. was founded by two brothers named Alfred and Frederick who purchased a pottery factory in Hanley, England, in 1883. Their business grew rapidly, as they were one of the world's largest pottery factories by the turn of the 20th century. By 1970, Johnson Bros. obtained the Royal Charter to become the official provider of china for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. More than 1,300 patterns have been created throughout Johnson Brothers' history. Because of the high volume of various shapes and patterns, identifying and dating a piece of china is difficult without a reference guide. Fortunately, a Johnson Bros. reference guide is available to help you to locate and date your pattern of Johnson Bros. china.
Purchase or borrow a reference guide for Johnson Bros. china. This is necessary because the company has been continuously making patterns since 1883, and dating a single piece will be extremely difficult--if not impossible--without a guide.
Identify your pattern by using the reference guide. The guide is broken down into separate chapters based on shape or pattern. For example, the three major Johnson Bros. plate shapes are scalloped, coupe and smooth-rim. If you have a plate, and you can see the edges are scalloped (shell-shaped), then proceed to the chapter marked Scalloped Rim.
Read the information about your pattern shape once you have located it in the appropriate section chapter (you can identify your pattern by the several hundred illustrations of designs). The reference guide will include information such as the pattern name, pattern number, and history or production date in the relevant section.
Use the Internet to help you find and date your piece if you can't find it in the reference guide. Some pieces are extremely rare--even an expert cannot locate and detail all pieces manufactured by every factory. A good site to identify unidentified patterns is www.replacements.com (the world's largest retailer of china pattern replacements).
If your pattern is not identified in the illustration chapters, look in the chapter that contains unidentified Johnson Bros. patterns. Unidentified china occurs when a pattern exists but is rarely seen and therefore does not have a pattern name attached to it. Unidentified china is instead assigned a pattern number, such as JB1241 or JB1242.