In 1904, the forerunner of the Noritake Company was established in a small suburb near Nagoya, Japan called Noritake. It took until 1914 for this factory to create dinnerware suitable for the Western market. Today, Noritake is recognised as a leader in tableware and has expanded to markets worldwide. From 1904 to the present, hundreds of patterns were manufactured and collected. Some are easy to identify; some are not.
There are more than 700 Noritake China patterns and more than 400 Noritake back stamps. Each Noritake pattern was created during a time period that correlates with a back stamp. Early pieces are not marked "Noritake" but rather have either a simple "M" for Moramura, who were the original makers of Noritake, or the words "Hand Painted" with "Nippon" beside or under them.
If a pattern was created over more than one back stamp period, the shape of pieces such as teacups, cups and saucers and serving pieces often changed; thus it is essential to compare back stamps with patterns and shapes. The most popular patterns are still being produced today. There are Noritake conventions all over the United States where patterns are displayed and collectors are willing to help with pattern identification.
The history of Noritake China and pattern identification is summed up at the Clay Museum in Alabama. The Clay Museum was opened in the summer of 2002 by Robin Brewer, a Noritake China expert and enthusiast. This is the Noritake Museum in the United States and an excellent resource for pattern identification. Robin has since passed away; however, calling the museum and using the current curator as a reference can speed the identification process.
There are books available designed to help the collector identify Noritake China. "Noritake Dinnerware: Identification Made Easy" by Robin Brewer has an index of more than 2,000 patterns as well as tips for pattern identification. "Collector's Encyclopedia of Early Noritake" by Aimee Neff Alden is divided into four sections and identifies patterns dating from 1891 to 1953.
The Noritake Collectors Guild is a society or club dedicated to researching, publishing and sharing information about Noritake China and its patterns. Its website claims that contributors have information not otherwise publicly released, and sharing is done over the internet and available for all to see. Replacements.com is an also an excellent resource for pattern identification.