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How to Determine Age of Japanese Hand Painted Porcelain

Japanese, or Nippon porcelain, is considered very valuable once authenticity is proven.
Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Nippon porcelain, or Japanese porcelain, is collected all over the world. True Nippon porcelain is hand painted and dates back to the 19th century as well as its sister porcelain, Noritake. In the 1970s, reproductions began to crop up from Japan and China, bearing claims of authentication, which led people to spend a lot of money on fake items. It is not easy to spot genuine antique Japanese porcelain; however, with a keen eye for detail, you can ensure that you do not waste your money on counterfeit Nippon or Noritake items.

Examine the stamps on the bottom of your piece. Authentic markings for Nippon and Noritake state the date of manufacture and portray a delicate "M." Some items also bear a maple leaf emblem. Fake stamps show a smaller "M" than the authentic stamps and will not state the date of manufacture. The writing may look stenciled in with pencil or pen, as if someone wrote on the piece directly.

Learn your dates. Different emblems were given for each country the items were manufactured. For example, Nippon and Noritake were not available in the United States until around 1908. If a seller tells you that he will give you a deal on an 1845 Nippon piece made for the United States, you know something is not right about the piece.

Look closely at the painting on the porcelain. The main pattern used on antique Nippon and Noritake were floral patterns, specifically roses. These patterns were painted with great detail and careful brush strokes, as well as the right blend of coloring. Fakes will not present this quality craftsmanship, looking sloppy and hastily done.

Examine the gold trim. Gold trim that is tarnished and aged indicates an old, authentic piece. Gold foil used in reproductions will peel but appear too polished to be real.

Inspect the bottom of the porcelain for signs of age. Reproductions will not be as aged as authentic antique Japanese porcelain. Scratches and scuffs that are obviously old could point to authenticity.

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