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Identifying the Various Marks on Traditional Limoges Boxes

From the time when the beautiful damsels of the European nobility used to flaunt their trinket snuff boxes in the 19th century, French porcelain had been synonymous with the exquisitely manufactured and painted Limoges boxes.

The factory in Sevres was the first to witness the blooming of this beautiful piece of art from the white clay called Kaolin, molded and designed by the dexterous artisans. Today, you find a plethora of manufacturers creating their own special designs using the unique French porcelain produced in the Limoges area of France.

However, just all the famous works of art, the Limoges boxes have also become the butt of fraudulence. As a result the market is now flooded with fake boxes obtained at unbelievingly low prices. In order to understand the value and authenticity of Limoges boxes, you have to be aware of the marks that come on the traditional Limoges boxes.

Factory or Maker: The maker’s mark denotes the factory where the white Kaolin is turned into whiteware or blank through casting and firing processes. The impression is made on the porcelain prior to the above processes. It can be seen under the glaze usually bearing the words “Limoges France” or numbers, colors or scripts as preferred by the manufacturer. You might also come across specific symbols like butterfly, bird, or star.

Decorator’s Mark: The decorator’s mark is visible over the glaze. It may be handwritten, stamped or printed on the artefact. Decorating companies generally go for printed or stamped marks, while individual artisans prefer writing by hand. If the maker and decorator are same, the manufacturer generally adds a second type of mark for the boxes he manufactures as well as decorates. He uses a different mark for the pieces, which he only manufactures and sells as undecorated white ware.

The decorator’s mark reflects the way the Limoges porcelain was designed or decorated by the artisan. The words “Peint Main” means that the decoration was done completely manually and “Rehausse Main” means the highlighting streaks were made by hand along with a combination of decals. On the other Décor Main depicts that some part of the decoration had been created by hand. The stamp of the artist might be marked as initials or as a signature.

Importer’s Mark: Limoges porcelain may be associated with thousands of companies manufacturing these enticing pieces of art. However, there are very few companies who have shot up as being top-notch manufacturers and importers, giving the items their brand name. Some of the famous importers Artoria Limoges, Rose Décor, Chamart Exclusives Inc, Rochard Limoges boxes, Sinclair, La Gloriette, Chanille and the likes. The peculiar designs on the porcelain also point at specific manufacturers. For example fruit designs on Rochard boxes take up larger dimensions that those by others.

Mold Marks: The boxes are cast in three-dimensional molds, which are immaculately created from the Kaolin clay. A number of boxes with unique designs are produced using a single mold. However, the number of boxes from each mold cannot exceed 100 since by that time the mold’s detailing is eradicated. The mold number is also indicated in each trinket box.

Limoges boxes categorized as Limited editions are usually inscribed with registered trademarks and the signature of its creator.

by Marina Chernyak

Limoges Factory

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