Pottery Marks Identification Guide

Pottery Marks Identification Guide

If you are stuck on where to start researching pottery marks, this pottery marks identification guide is here to help you wend your way and do research in an methodical way.

The Basics Of Pottery Marks Research

Pottery Marks Identification Guide

Pottery Marks Identification Guide

Understanding pottery marks is a great way to learn more about a piece and its history. Pottery marks can tell us the maker of a piece, when it was made, and sometimes where it was made. There are a few different types of pottery marks, and they can be found on the bottom of a piece or on the back.

What Is A Pottery Mark?

A pottery mark is a stamp, logo, or signature on a piece of pottery or porcelain. Pottery marks can be found on the bottom of a piece and used to identify the maker, the country of manufacture, and sometimes the date it was made. A few makers used paper labels instead of pottery marks, but these can be tricky to identify.

There are three main types of pottery marks: trademarks, logos, and signatures. Trademarks are text-only and used to indicate the company name or brand. Logos are usually a combination of text and images and might include an insignia, monogram, brand mascot, or another symbol. Signatures are handwritten initials or names that indicate who made the piece.

Pottery marks can be very helpful in identifying a piece of pottery or porcelain, but they should only be used as one part of the identification process. The best way to identify a piece is to consult with an expert who can compare it to known examples.

What Can Pottery Marks Tell Us?

Pottery marks are usually identified with a specific country of origin. Early English potters were among the first to mark their wares with initials, crest, or coat of arms. By the late 1700s, the use of symbols, monograms, factory identification marks, and even trademarks began to appear on English china, and by the early 1800s, most major companies were using some form of marking.

The ever-increasing interest in collecting antique porcelain has placed a demand on knowing as much as possible about pottery and porcelain marks. A knowledge of these marks is also important if you are interested in determining the value of your china.

How To Identify Pottery Marks

Pottery marks are usually located on the bottom of a piece of pottery. They can be used to help identify the maker of the piece when it was made, and what order it was made in. There are three main types of pottery marks: trademarks, artists’ signatures, and initials. However, there are also a few other types of marks that can be found on pottery.

Look for a maker’s mark

When trying to identify a piece of pottery, the first thing you want to look for is a maker’s mark. Even if a piece is unsigned, a skilled investigator can often find evidence of the artist by identifying unique characteristics in the piece itself.

The style of the decoration, the type of clay used, and the way the piece was glazed can all provide clues about who made it and when. Sometimes these clues can narrow down the field of possible makers to just a few possibilities. Other times they may not be enough to identify the maker with any certainty.

If you’re lucky enough to find a piece with a maker’s mark, that’s usually the best place to start your investigation. The mark may be a stamp, an impressed symbol, or even just a handwritten signature. Once you’ve identified the maker, you can start to narrow down when the piece was made by looking for other marks that indicate its age.

Look for a pattern name or number

Most pottery marks consist of the manufacturer’s name in some way, plus a design and/or porcelain trademark. Sometimes there is also an indication of a pattern, but on many items, these are replaced by a pattern name or number.

The identification of pottery marks is a process of elimination. The first step is to rule out any obvious possibilities by looking for things that are definitely not the manufacturer’s mark. These include:

– artist’s signatures or initials
– impressed initials, such as those found on some English bone china
– country of origin marks, such as “Germany” or “Japan”
– retail store marks, such as “Nordstrom” or “Macy’s”
– pattern names or numbers (these are usually found on the underside of the piece)

If you cannot find any of these marks, then you will need to look more closely at the design elements of the mark. Some manufacturers used very distinctive designs that can be easily recognized, while others used more generic designs that might be mistaken for those of other companies. In either case, it is often possible to identify the manufacturer by examining the mark carefully.

Look for a date

Staffordshire Pottery Mark

Staffordshire Pottery Mark

Dating pottery is quite a challenge and I will try to give you some basic principles to work with. Remember that a maker will usually have a preferred mark but sometimes they would use something different, especially if they were making the odd piece for a friend or family member.

So the date of the piece is not always going to be the same as the date of the mark. In addition, many people in past centuries were illiterate so marks meant nothing to them, they just used whatever was convenient at the time.

There are three main ways of looking for a date:

1) Look for a date on the piece itself. This could be written in pencil on the base, or stamped into the clay. If it was glazed over then it would need to be scratched off to read it.

2) Look at any markings on the pottery. These could be numbers, symbols, or just initials. A lot of manufacturers used these as their code for the year that the piece was made; for example, Wedgwood used 3 Dots from 1769 until 1780, then a Crescent Moon from 1781 until 1800 (this particular system only works for Wedgwood!). Other companies had similar systems and you can sometimes work out when a piece was made just by looking at these symbols; otherwise, there are many excellent books that have been written on this subject and are readily available second-hand.

3) Check out any literary references which might help date your piece; for example, if you have a teapot then look in Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” where Scrooge asks his nephew Fred to guess how much his teapot cost him. This particular teapot was made by Richard Chaffers in 1848 and is now in The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, so if your teapot has similar markings then it was probably made around that time too!

Decoding pottery marks

Pottery marks are the fingerprints of the artist who made the piece. they can be used to date a piece, trace its origins, and often reveal the identity of the maker. However, decoding pottery marks can be a daunting task. In this article, we will take a look at some tips that will help you decode pottery marks.

Pottery Maker’s Marks

Pottery marks are small identifying marks placed on objects, usually the underside of pottery. They are applied at various times for various reasons and can provide valuable information about a piece. However, there are also many pieces of pottery without marks that can be attributed to specific factories or artists.

There are five main types of pottery marks, each serving a different purpose:

-Maker’s Marks: Marks used by potters to identify their work. Usually printed or impressed into the clay before firing.

-Pattern Marks: Names or numbers used to identify a pattern. Usually found on the underside of a piece along with the maker’s mark and other symbols.

-Country of Origin Marks: National symbols or words that indicate where the piece was made. Can be helpful in determining the age of a piece.


-Artist’s Signatures: Handwritten signatures of the artist who created the piece. These can be found on the underside or on the front of a piece.
-Firing Symbols: Symbols placed on a piece to indicate how it should be fired (e.g., ring marks for Raku firing).

Pattern names or numbers

Many potters used letters and numbers as pattern names, sometimes mixing them up. A convenient way to find the correct pattern is to use a translation code. Most of these systems were developed in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, but some manufacturers were still using them up to about 1930.

Some companies used a system of letters and numbers. These usually indicate the shape number followed by the pattern number.

For example, if a piece is marked with an “L” it indicates that it is the shape Louis XIV and the “5” means it is in the fifth colorway or decoration painted on that shape. Often there are no spaces or other punctuation between the letters and numbers. If there is only one letter it generally indicates a company name (see below).

Do not confuse these codes with factories that used initials as back stamps (e.g. H & Co Ltd for Henry Alcock & Co Ltd). These are usually decorated with a blank space after them to show that they are not pattern codes, e.g.: H& Co Ltd 5678


Pottery marks are like the fingerprint of the artist or company who made the piece. If you know what to look for, you can identify the time period, country, and/or artist who first created your favorite piece.

There are many resources available to help you with this process, but the most important thing is to take your time and enjoy the journey.

Most pottery marks are identified by using a reference book. There are several different books available, but the two most popular are “The Official Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks” by The Collectors Club of New York and “The Ceramic Marks Dictionary” by Liz Hayward. These books can be found at most large libraries or purchased online.

Once you have located a mark in one of these books, you can narrow down the date range of your piece by cross-referencing with other resources.

A good place to start is “The Encyclopedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks” by Geoffrey A Godden. This book will help you identify which manufacturers were in operation during different time periods.

You can also search online databases such as “The National Tableware Association Database” or “The Pottery Ports Database”. These databases allow you to search for marks by shape, designer, or company name.

If you’re still having trouble narrowing down the date of your piece, don’t hesitate to ask an expert!

There are many experienced collectors and dealers who would be happy to help you out. The best way to find an expert is through word-of-mouth recommendations or by attending pottery shows and asking around.


Pottery Marks Identification Guide A final word

If you’re new to the world of pottery marks, the array of symbols on the bottom of a piece of pottery can be confusing.

A final word of advice: don’t worry about them too much. Unless you’re an experienced collector, the chances are that you won’t be able to identify the maker of a piece by its marks.

Do your research

There are a number of ways to identify a piece of pottery or porcelain, but if you want to be sure of the identity and value of your piece, you will need to do some thorough research.

The most important thing to remember is that marks can be easily forged and that the value of a piece is not necessarily determined by the age or rarity of its mark. A number of factors — such as condition, quality, and design — will also affect the value of a piece.

If you’re just starting your research, one of the best places to start is with a reference book such as Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Prices. This classifies even Polish Pottery.

This book (and others like it) will give you an idea of what marks are worth looking for, and how many pieces with those marks are selling for. Once you’ve selected a few marks that interest you, it’s time to start your online research.

A quick Google search will reveal a number of sites that specialize in pottery marks, and these can be a helpful starting point for your research.

However, it’s important to remember that anyone can create and post information on the internet, so it’s important to take everything you read with a grain of salt. When in doubt, consult an expert!

Be patient

Marks are often difficult to decipher. The more you handle antique pottery, the more familiar the marks will become.

Even experts sometimes have to do a bit of research to identify a particular mark. The best way to learn is by doing, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Buy a few pieces of pottery and try to figure out the marks yourself. It’s a fun and rewarding hobby!