As an avid antique collector and dealer, I have become well versed in spotting replicas. I like to share my knowledge with others.
Need Help With a Pottery Mark or Hallmark?
Pottery collectors today are interested in many kinds of pottery and porcelain. It's often hard to identify old pottery because pieces' crests are from all over the world. Most pottery companies marked their wares with a mark also known as a hallmark. However, some did not, leaving no way of identifying the piece. Companies also changed hallmarks from time to time, which can lead to problems when one is attempting to identify a given piece.
The process of identifying a piece of pottery can be frustrating. As a rule, pottery pieces were marked to show the company of origin. Some hallmarks were incised into the clay, some stamped, while others were painted onto the piece. Many companies used transfers to leave that all-important hallmark. Many marks contain extra letters, numbers, and strange symbols along with the name of the country of origin. All of these added marks can be confusing for the person trying to identify a given piece.
I collect antique pottery, so I have felt the pangs of frustration firsthand when attempting to identify a piece of pottery. I have put this article together to help my readers understand hallmarks a bit better and be able to identify pottery with a lot less frustration.
Reproduction: Can You Tell the Difference?
As long as there have been antiques, there have been fakes and reproductions. Telling the two apart can be difficult even to the trained eye of an expert. But antiques have become fashionable, and as a result, many of them are being copied or reproduced as fast as can be.
Like copies of clothing and jewelry, many pseudo-antiques are cheap-looking and obviously fake. However, there are good copies too, where time and effort has been spent to make them look authentically aged. People who want to buy or sell antiques should research how to tell a fake from the real thing. Because reproductions are realistic and so similar to the antiques themselves, it is easy to be fooled.
How to Easily Decipher British Registration Marks
In 1842, England started to offer registration of its decorative designs for pottery, china, wood, paper, porcelain, and glass. I have added charts below to help you learn the method of how the British marked their wares. These charts can be useful in identifying your wonderful British antiques.
Marks include the date the given design was registered. Keep in mind, not every piece made in England held this mark, and remember the date was just when the design was registered. For example, a given piece of pottery may have been in production long before it was registered, so it may not hold the mark. An item with a registry mark or number would be protected from other companies duplicating the design.
English Registry Marks:
The following two diamond-shaped marks were used from 1842–1883:
- Mark I: Used from 1842–1867
- Mark II: Used from 1868–1883
Each letter on the diagram is represented in one of the tables below:
- A: Materials
- B: Year
- C: Month
- D: Day of the Month
- E: Bundle Number
D and E are not in the tables below because the actual number on the mark represents them.
British Registration Mark I: 1842–1867
|A: Materials||B: Year||C: Month|
V: Paper Hangings
VII: Printed Shawls
VIII: Other Shawls
X: Printed Fabrics
XII i: Other Fabrics
XII ii: Damasks
British Registration Mark II: 1868–1883
|A: Materials||B: Year||C: Month|
V: Paper Hangings
VII: Printed Shawls
VIII: Other Shawls
X: Printed Fabrics
XII i: Other Fabrics
XII ii: Damasks
Dating a Piece of English Pottery via a Coat of Arms
The royal coat of arms was only used by businesses which had the privilege of being a holder of a royal warrant. Today, royal warrants are granted to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services for a minimum of five consecutive years to members of the Royal Family.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, many potters who did not have a warrant, both in England and also foreign firms, included the coat of arms as part of their mark. A business owner speculated that by including the royal coat of arms in their hallmark, it would add some sense of importance and value to their wares. The same way many potters use the name "royal" as part of their name or trademark.
It was Queen Victoria who ensured royal warrants gained the prestige they now hold today. During her 64-year reign, Queen Victoria and her family were responsible for granting more royal warrants than ever before—more than 2000.
The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom has evolved since the 1100s, and reflect the history of the monarchy, and of England. The coat of arms has remained unchanged since Queen Victoria.
The shield shows the various royal emblems of different parts of the United Kingdom: the three lions of England in the first and fourth quarters, the lion of Scotland in the second, and the harp of Ireland in the third. The shield is supported by the English lion and Scottish unicorn.
The plant badges of the United Kingdom—rose, thistle, and shamrock—are sometimes displayed beneath the shield.
Pre-1837 the Royal Coat of Arms Sported an Additional Centre Shield
Under King George III, the 1801 coat of arms of England occupied the first and fourth quarters, the arms of Scotland the second, and the arms of Ireland the third.
For the house of Hanover, there was an escutcheon overall (a center shield over a large shield).
When identifying a piece of pottery that's hallmark clearly uses England's coat of arms, look for the escutcheon (shield over shield). This will help you date the piece, as to whether or not it was produced before 1837.
Jim WALLACE on August 10, 2020:
Hullo Aussie here with a bowl I think I was told belonged to my great grandmother who came out to Aust around 1850-60 I think. The mark on the pottery is ' 5A FRENCH 1301-7 MADE IN ENGLAND '.
Can’t send photo this format
Can any one give me info please?
Mari Timbrell on May 24, 2020:
Hi I have a vase with a crown stamp and England on the base. It also has other words etc but these are illegible. It also has something like ‘Taso’paint on the base with a number. It is very difficult to decipher do you know where I can find out who made it. It belonged to my great aunt. I’ve tried to look it up but no luck. Thanks
Sharlee (author) on March 10, 2020:
Hi Wendy, I am out of the country at this time. When I return in the spring I will have a good look at my hallmark reference books, and try to get you a company that made your plate.
Wendy on March 10, 2020:
I have a willow pattern plate with PPC stamped underneath in blue print with a pattern on either side. CDan you tell me the maker please.
Sharlee (author) on October 21, 2019:
There were a couple of English pottery companies that used swords or what could be arrows --- Coalport, BRISTOL,WORCESTER, and CAUGHLEY, DERBY. The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 required that the name of the country where the ceramic was originally made must be printed on each piece. Due to the piece being ID with England would most likely indicate it was made after 1891.
malcolm on October 21, 2019:
i have a rose bowl with england written on the bottom with a red or brown sword like symbol
Karen Schaup on June 07, 2019:
Great information here. However--I found dinnerware while cleaning out a house that says Coronation Newport Pottery Co ltd Burslem England. There is a crown and a lion holding a round object. I have not been able to find anything about these. Would you happen to know?
Jude on June 18, 2018:
Dollaraha, blue wear china, does anyone e have in info about this company. There is a seven digit serial number and a 13 place string of numbers and letters. Two joined wings is the emblem written in blue
Alice on March 08, 2016:
I've some porcelain that my grandfather left me years ago! I didn't find the marks in your list!
Could you please help me to find the right brand?!
Can we keep in contact ?! :)
liz on January 20, 2015:
hi - i have an oil bottle - i have been told its from the 1800's - its blue and white 4 sided with a spout and lid with a cork attached - i have also been told its delft ware but i can hardly read the markings - it is a black marking with what looks like a tree at each edge leaning into a shield with 3 white and 2 black strips under that it says delft then it becomes illegible then under that a swirly pattern - on its right it looks like a 6 with a stoke above it - can you help me identify it??
Vanessa on September 15, 2014:
I have a large vase/pot with 4 French 1301-5 made in England written on it.. I'm trying to figure out if it's worth anything and who made it thanms
mmtinga on June 30, 2014:
I have a pottery bottle with a pour spout on top. It appears to be a glazed brown earthenware. It has an oval at the bottom of the bottle with Mellor Brothers Bottle Makers and across the middle of the oval is Eastwood Pottery near Nottingham. I have tried to research it but am coming up short. I purchased it about 25 or so years ago. Any help would be appreciated.
mpotthast on April 14, 2014:
I have a large heavy white bowl but it doesn't have a stamp in the traditional sense that I'm used to but rather just a name stamped into it and is dated 1868. The only letters I can make out are "akin". Any thoughts on who may have made it?
burgandy10 on March 29, 2014:
I have a bulbous vase with hallmark of 2 bars in shape of an x with crown at top R. on left side C. on right side and havana under the hallmark -- anyone know where this is made age or any info -- thanks Bill
Janpec on March 29, 2014:
I have a vase with 190 embedded on the base and an N in white.......any information on these would be appreciated
lynn-anderson on March 22, 2014:
Do you have any info on pottery marked "Belgique"? Many thanks.
grandmarulz on March 12, 2014:
I have a pottery piece with a circle with a c in it and another circle with a 73 in it.The vase is dark blue with a green glaze dripping down can you help please and thank you
emma-tuck-98 on March 05, 2014:
I have a soap holder ceramic with a big angel and a small angel on the side....there's a V or L at the buttom....can you pls help me identify....thanks
nuella on February 28, 2014:
I have a 4" dia white porcelain basket in a weave with roses and leaves. the mark on the bottom is a crown above a plain shield with three elongated leaves. A number embedded is 4275. Any ideas? Thanks
larsbars on February 16, 2014:
Hello. I have set of brown stoneware goblets with what looks like an acorn leaf stamped on the bottom. Any idea how I can identify them? Thanks.
Doc_Holliday on January 27, 2014:
This is an interesting topic. A bit like code-breaking but easier.
amycorp on November 08, 2013:
What an interesting lens! Thanks so much!
ToplineP on September 17, 2013:
Fantastic lens, answered all my questions.
KTPT13 on July 10, 2013:
Cool lens. Very informative.
anonymous on July 02, 2013:
@anonymous: I have a jardiniere with similar markings, French 1301- l or 6 , but then it says made in England. Is yours the same? Have you been able to find any more information
LUMOSE on June 07, 2013:
Great lens, very interesting.
jpmny999 on June 04, 2013:
This is all very interesting. I really learned a lot of new things.
anonymous on May 26, 2013:
I have a white vase with blue flowers and a Z on the bottom. Anyone know who made it and the year???
jura on May 05, 2013:
Great information about pottery Hallmarks , it is a real good lens .
anonymous on April 28, 2013:
I have a set of enameled hand painted plates with a red stamp in bold NIPPON below a red stamp of what looks like a cupcake (?)... can you identify this stamp and advise me how / where to get a value on these items. Thank you so much.
mistaben on April 19, 2013:
Loving the information on this lens. Great stuff.
Margot_C on February 24, 2013:
This is all very new to me. Thanks for such an informative lens. I love pottery and didn't realize how important marks and hallmarks were. Great info and a great reference.
anonymous on January 26, 2013:
I have a round pottery vase that I found while cleaning out my fathers house I can't read the signature. Dichcron. Or something. No date. I can email you picture and tracing I did if you thinkitwouldhelp
anonymous on September 10, 2012:
I have a plate with the initials SB&S on the bottom. Can you help me identify it, please/
Sojourn on September 09, 2012:
Very interesting. I think I have a couple of old pieces that were handed down to me that I've never really researched. I'll have to check them out. Thanks!
anonymous on September 08, 2012:
have a white a 10 inch pottery bowl with E&R inc. ERPHILA, CZECH0-SLOVAKIA mark and a number in the bowl side3582
I would like any information I can get including value.
anonymous on September 04, 2012:
I have a clock to and two matching vases, Clock has 81S Athens on base and vases have 190 England on their bases. The marks are raised in the mould. My father in law bought for mother in law in 1924 I believe, and as they were bordering on poor, I would imagine cost nothing and worth nothing. just interested in the origins.
Sharlee (author) on August 31, 2012:
@anonymous: Thanks for visiting my lens. The mark sounds like a mark that was used by the A.G. Harley Jones company. Located in in Fenton, Staffordshire, England. The mark was used from 1907 - 1934.
cherricopottery on August 27, 2012:
Wow that was a long lens! Very thorough. Let me know if you ever become interested in contemporary pottery marks!
anonymous on August 21, 2012:
HAVE A JARDINIER MARKED ON THE BOTTOM L FRENCH 1301-5 WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME
anonymous on August 16, 2012:
I have a small dish with Lord Nelson Pottery written on it with a picture of Pears soap advertised on it,can you tell me anything about it.
drsalm on July 28, 2012:
Nice lens! Congrats! I even found something suitable for my nephew.
anonymous on July 17, 2012:
I didn't find what i needed either. Mine has two mermaids facing each other with the initials N-D under a crown. It is a Ceramic Style water pitcher. Not a big one but it is cute. I was hoping to find some help.
rushfashion on June 23, 2012:
Matt_Lowe on June 03, 2012:
Wow. Very informative. I guess I had never given much thought to the marking on various pieces of pottery.
faber80 on May 09, 2012:
very, very useful lens.
anonymous on May 03, 2012:
Very Nice site I found My Mark in The U.S. section & very happy that it is a vintage Rookwood
anonymous on April 06, 2012:
Hi - very interesting site. I would like to know the manufacturing companies in "bundle #5" of the British Registration Marks 1842-1867, since I have a couple of earthenware pots of that period, with the relevant mark.
FYI, the correct heraldic term for the three lions on the royal coat of arms is "Three Lions, Or, Passent, Guardant" (it means that they are gold, walking, and looking at you!)
anonymous on March 26, 2012:
I have a charming moccasin. (Native American) in china/porcelain. On the underside is the word "creek". Any ideas? I do know it's at least 50-60 yrs. Old.
anonymous on March 24, 2012:
hi, i have a deep royal blue vase with pink flowers and green leaves. It has a blue (same colour as the vase) letter "b" underneath. It has unusual patterns at the top and base. It's a little hard to describe but they look like up-side-down "spades" (as in a deck of cards) and pointy marks inside of the clubs....confused? They are a little hard to describe.
jimmyworldstar on December 12, 2011:
Cool lens, I wasn't even aware that pottery had identifying marks. Were the British the only ones who came up with a registration marker in that time period?
Godsgraciousgift on December 03, 2011:
It is interesting to read about pottery marks here on your lens.
anonymous on November 11, 2011:
I have a porcelain cat. Jar (body) and lid (top). The only markings on it are the letter "L" (Written like Lavern does, in Lavern and Shirley) - cursive. The TOP has a number of 3 or 5 above the L, and the Jar part has a marking of 20 above the L. Its about 20 inches tall, and is white, with the cat being a light Brown/Goldish color.
anonymous on November 10, 2011:
Great lens! Thanks for sharing it with all us fellow Squids! One big thumbs up vote left!
anonymous on October 07, 2011:
Informative lens, great information and interesting topic. Thanks!
WorldVisionary on October 05, 2011:
Very informative lens! Thumbs up and an Angel blessing for you!
anonymous on August 11, 2011:
Working in the antiques industry I know how important these pottery marks are. Great resource for people trying to ID a mark! Blessed.
AlleyCatLane on August 10, 2011:
Love the links list. Very helpful for sellers and buyers of pottery, etc.
PlayOutside on April 28, 2011:
nice lens....I will come back after garage sale hunting this summer
spertz on April 19, 2011:
WorldTravelers916 on September 15, 2008:
i can stay in a hallmark store for hours looking at all the great stuff!
miami hurricane hat
Jasonb702 on September 15, 2008:
Great lens Shar.. We all love your work...
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by_the_sea on July 09, 2007:
Fantastic lens full of really useful information. You should check out my lense on
Nicegoogoo on June 25, 2007:
Pottery is an age old trend.This lens serves as an introduction to Pottery Making Illustrated magazine, with featured drawings.You can see my breakups lens too.
richardmackenzie on May 09, 2007:
What a fantastic lens! I have a lens with free self help stuff. Take a look and rate it for me. Thanks, Richard...
cageybee on April 26, 2007:
Good lens. Keep up the good work!