Noritake china is a popular, affordable china produced in Japan. The company began its import business after trade negotiations between Japan and other world markets, including the United States, were completed in 1858. Since that time, various back marks used on the china pieces have been used to identify the name of the pattern and its approximate age. Those back marks often reflect the history of Noritake china.
Look on the back of your china piece. Even the oldest back "marks on Noritake china will usually say "Noritake." Older back marks will sometimes have a laurel wreath that contains the letter "M." These, too, verify that the manufacturer was Noritake. After 1933, Noritake added a ribbon at the bottom of the laurel wreath. The newer back marks (after 1953) will have the letter "N" in the centre of the laurel wreath.
Look for back marks that indicate markets other than the United States. You might see what looks like a balance beam with the letters "RC" (Royal Crockery) inscribed above. This back mark may or may not have the word Noritake below the balance beam. For some foreign markets, Noritake used a representation of the Chinese letter "komaru," which means "difficulty." This mark resembles an upper-case, cursive "K," presented as a mirror image of itself. The mark symbolised the cultural problems Japan had in dealing with some foreign markets.
During the years after World War II, Noritake used different back marks. Look for the words "Rose China." This back mark was used instead of the traditional laurel wreath because Japan was not able to produce the same quality of china during that time. Occasionally, you will see the words "Occupied Japan" on these pieces as well. Noritake resumed using the laurel wreath design in 1948.
If there is no back mark, it's possible that your piece of china dates to before 1908. Noritake registered its first backmarks in 1908.
Look for the name of your china pattern above or below the back mark. For example, one of the oldest is "Sedan." The pattern name "Sedan" is found below the laurel wreath. Noritake has produced more than 700 patterns throughout its history. The most obvious identifying mark will be the name of the particular pattern inscribed somewhere near the back mark.
Look for a pattern number. For example, the pattern "Graytone" has a corresponding number, 6257. If you cannot find a pattern name, you might find the number instead. Reliable websites, such as Replacements.com, can cross-reference numbers and patterns.
Write down a description of your china. Does it have a gold or silver rim? What are the predominant colours? Is it a floral pattern? Does it have a simple coloured band? Is the predominant background colour white or ivory? A good description of the piece, in the absence of any other identifying marks, will help you identify the pattern in other ways. One book in particular, "Noritake Dinnerware: Identification Made Easy," by Robin Brewer, contains hundreds of photographs of Noritake patterns. There also are websites, such as the noritakecollectorsguild.info, that are helpful.
Things you need
- Various pieces of Noritake china
- Magnifying glass