The Homer Laughlin China Company was established in 1871 by Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin, two brothers who lived in East Liverpool, Ohio. For over a century, the company has prided itself on its high-quality, American-made pottery. If you own or plan to purchase a piece of Homer Laughlin pottery, you can date the piece by utilizing the date guidelines established by the company.
Locate any numbers, letters or trademark stamps on the bottom of the pottery or china. If you have an older piece, you may need to carefully clean the pottery to be able to inspect the information relating to dating.
Determine how many numbers and letters are printed. If there are two numbers and one letter, the china dates between 1900 and 1910. The second number is the year in which the pottery was made, and the letter refers to the factory location. Therefore, if the series of numbers says “76L,” then the piece is from 1906. Pieces made between 1910 and 1920 will have three numbers. The first number represents the month the piece was made. The second number represents the year, and the fourth number represents the factory. Pieces made between 1921 and 1930 are represented by a letter followed by two numbers. The letter indicated the month, with the first 12 letters of the alphabet representing the 12 months of the year. For example, "C" would represent March. The second number indicated the year, and the last number indicated the plant where it was made. After 1931, you will find one letter followed by two numbers, and finally another letter. The first letter represents the month in which the piece was made, followed by the year, and the final letter represents the plant where it was made. So, a piece that has an “E44R” was made in May, 1944 at Plant 5.
Examine the trademark if you can’t read or decipher the numbers and letters. Pottery before 1890 had a horseshoe mark. Between 1890 and 1900, the trademark was an American eagle carrying a lion. After 1900 various trademarks were used, though the name of the company was often marked on the bottom of a dish in addition to the date.
Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.