The main ingredients in Limoges are feldspar, kaolin and quartz. Until the first discovery of kaolin, porcelain was considered a "soft paste porcelain" mixture. It was in Limoges, France, that a chemist named Johann Friedrich Bottger developed "hard paste porcelain." This porcelain changed the industry, and the Limoges name has become synonymous with high-quality porcelain. Limoges collectors look for specific identifiers when scouting new pieces that set the porcelain apart from household china.
Look for the Obvious
Identifying porcelain Limoges is easy if you know what the identifiers are. Collectors agree that all Limoges pieces are hand painted with the factory stamp on the bottom that also says Limoges, France. There is more than one factory in the area, so there isn't one uniform stamp. All authentic Limoges boxes have copper or copper alloy hinges.
Limoges is more than just plates and teacups. They are jewellery boxes, pitchers, serving dishes and decorative plates, among other things.
A Closer Look
Limoges pieces are decorated usually under a glaze layer or over the top coat of glaze. The contents of those designs tell a lot about the piece. Floral patterns are usually produced from transfers. Small designs containing fruit are less common as are large fruit designs. Animals and people designs are depicted primarily in limited edition pieces and are more likely to be hand painted, not transfers. Landscape patterns are very rare and a characteristic of an older piece. The older pieces are hand painted with a higher quality gilding.
Identify the Fakes
Imitation Limoges isn't made in France but in China. Thus, the stamp will have a symbol identifying it as such. These stamps will have "Republic of China", "China", "ROC" or "C" near the fake Limoges stamp. Also, look for Limoges stamps that are accompanied other location outside of Limoges, France.
In the world of Limoges, there are several hundreds and sometimes thousands of different pieces vying for attention using the Limoges stamp. The most valuable of these are always the limited editions that are hand painted and signed by their makers. These lines run from as little as 25 to as many as 2,500. The smaller the run, the more valuable the resulting pieces will be. Sinclair is one Limoges manufacturer known for its rare editions, as is Faberge. Such pieces will have a number identifying its place in the edition. Older heirloom pieces always garner the most value.
All Limoges pieces are made to reflect the fine porcelain. However, not all of the pieces are rare or unique. Haviland, Legle Legrand Lebouc and Nouvelle de Porcelaine are just a few known for their dinner and giftwares. Although their Limoges is mass produced, it is still very expensive and known for its exquisite Limoges characteristics.