Limoges pattern identification can vary. Small factories in Limoges, France have a wide variety of distinct markings on the china produced from that area. While Limoges china is lovely to behold and is a work of art, Haviland Limoges pieces are among the most popular types of china sought by collectors.
History of Haviland Limoges
The story of Haviland Limoges is about a passion for the product combined with a fierce competitive streak to be the best. It began with a man who saw an opportunity to bring a finer level of quality to dishware in America. New York-based importer/exporter David Haviland came across a rare set of French china in 1839. Americans were not often given the opportunity to enjoy the delicate imported dinnerware from France.
He saw that French porcelains had a superior quality over English porcelain and was quite a step up from the earthenware that flooded the American market. To be the first to bring this specific type of china to the United States, he took the arduous trip to France to find from where the porcelain he had encountered in his New York offices originated.
After a year of searching in Paris for the maker of the china, he pinpointed that it was Limoges porcelain. He quickly realized the business potential in dealing only in French porcelain for American buyers and moved to France in 1942 to immerse himself in the handling of exporting the wares to his brothers in New York.
Haviland Limoges Blanks
The china that Haviland came across in the 1840s was not marked by the original factory. It was plain, opaque and perfect china with a luminous quality. The plain plates, cups and saucers were called blanks.
The porcelain dishware was sent to other factories or artists to have gold borders, delicate flowers or picturesque scenes painstakingly hand painted onto the luminous surface and around the crisp edges of the china.
The Break of Haviland China
David Haviland died in 1879 and left his thriving business to his sons, Charles and Theodore. The brothers broke the business into two separate companies with different styles. Therefore, Haviland Limoges china was marked either "Haviland & Co. Limoges" or "Theo Haviland Limoges France."
The fierce competition between the brothers for the best artists, pricing and design created impressive Limoges china patterns, although it caused a rift between the brothers.
Charles Haviland’s son Jean turned away from the fierce feud between his father and uncle and moved to France when he was old enough to start his own pottery factory. That pottery is labeled "Johann Haviland Bavaria Germany."
A Schleiger Number for Authenticity
A Schleiger number verifies that the Limoges in question is authentic. It describes the exact type of Limoges china pattern, which can be difficult. Theodore Haviland Schleiger numbers vary widely because the pattern may be the same, but it is reverse on a different set. Theo Limoges china is collected for its many intricate patterns and designs, with minor changes in detail from pattern to pattern.
How Haviland Limoges Gets Marked
After opening his china manufacturing plant in Limoges to increase output of the fine dishware, Haviland hired local artists to hand paint colorful designs.
The mark is put under the glaze and directly on the white ware before any painting or finishing is done. This makes the markings last and stand out. If the Limoges china marking underneath the item is worn or appears on top of the glaze, it is an imposter.
Limoges pieces with France stamped on them are from after 1891 when U.S. customs laws required the country of origin to be marked on all porcelain. If the authentic Limoges you own has no country of origin on them, then you know that it was made before 1891.
Haviland Limoges Facts
- Its patterns from the 19th century are the most innovative.
- Haviland also dabbled in stoneware and other ceramics but is most widely known for china.
- Nearly 50 companies were cranking out china by the 1920s.
- Limoges is a small town a little more than 200 miles from Paris, France.
Kimberley McGee has written for national and regional publications, including People magazine, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal and more. The award-winning journalist has covered home decor, celebrity renovations, and sat down with reality HGTV stars to discuss the latest trends.