What Do Numbers Printed on Antiques Mean?

Collecting antiques can be rewarding in many ways, but it is often difficult to determine when an antique was made. If the piece is legibly marked and numbered, it will make authenticating and dating much easier. You should take it to a professional antique appraiser to determine exactly what the numbers mean, and always consult an antique expert if there is any question about the seller's knowledge or reputation.


The 1891 McKinley Tariff Act of America stipulated that all items imported to America must have the name of the country of origin imprinted on them. Pieces that have "England" imprinted on them were manufactured in 1891 or later. The words "Made In England" indicate the piece was produced after 1921. Ceramic pieces that have been imprinted with the words "English Bone China" or "Bone China" were produced in the 1900s. Pieces with the letters "Rd" in the centre of a design registration mark were produced between 1842 and 1883. Registration numbers, such as Rd No. 10057, indicate the piece dates to between 1842 and 1883.


Pattern and code numbers on Doulton pieces indicate when those kinds of pieces were originally produced. A code letter "C" and number between 4241 and 4945 indicate the type of item was first produced in 1892, although the particular item could have been after that date.

Numbers on the bottom of Doulton figurines can be used to determine when they were produced by adding 27 to the number. For example, if the number to the right of the backstamp on the bottom of the figurine is 10, you add 27 to get 37. The figurine was produced in 1937.

RA Numbers

In Doulton's Robert Allen studios, the workers who hand-painted the items were commonly given Robert Allen (RA) numbers, and they would typically put their numbers near the Doulton marks. These hand-painted items were not produced in large quantities and most were not repeated. A Doulton hand-painted piece with an RA number between 764 and 1323 was introduced around November 1892.

Rd Marks

An antique registration mark in a diamond shape with the letters "Rd" in the centre will have numbers and letters in each point of the diamond. These numbers and letters indicate when the item was registered. Items registered between 1842 and 1867 have letters in the top and left point of the diamond and in the right and bottom. Between 1868 and 1883, the numbers went in the top and left points and the letters in the right and bottom. The letters indicate month and year and the numbers indicate day and bundle.


In 1884, the registry system was changed. Registered items were assigned an Rd number or registration number with the prefix "Rd." For example, a piece with the letters and numbers "Rd. 19756" was produced in 1885.

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About the Author

Reannan Raine worked for 30 years in the non-profit sector in various positions. She recently became a licensed insurance agent but has decided to pursue a writing career instead. Ms. Raine is hoping to have her first novel published soon.