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How to Identify Noritake China Patterns

Updated March 23, 2017

The Noritake China company began as Morimura Gumi, named for its original founder, who was in position to respond to the call of Commodore Perry in 1854--for Japan to open its borders to trade. After sending employees to several expositions and fairs (including the 1893 World's Fair), Morimura began production in 1904 at Nagoya, Japan, and supplied dinnerware to the Japanese Navy in 1910. The first dinnerware imports arrived in the United States in 1914. Noritake china has had many backstamps over the years, many without the Noritake name. It may take some research to determine that your china is a Noritake product, and additional research to identify the pattern.

Identify Noritake china by backstamps or marks. Older Noritake products are marked with an "M" or an "M" in a wreath mark, representing the Morimura name. Many are also marked with the Nippon mark, and these usually date prior to 1921, as that was the year when the United States began requiring Japan to use the American name for the country--not the Japanese name ("Nippon"). Although items that have the "M" in a wreath and the word "Nippon" do not have the Noritake name, these are early Noritake products. Noritake did not use the "N" mark for exports to the United States until about 1953, reports the Gotheborg website (Gotheborg also pictures many of the Noritake marks to help you identify china or other Noritake products: see References for a link to the site). Noritake also exported quantities of decorative china items that were not dinnerware, many of which are pictured in "Noritake: Collectibles A to Z" by David Spain.

Identify specific patterns by using clues provided by the backstamp. Recent Noritake china patterns usually have a name in addition to the Noritake name--which is the pattern identification. Older Noritake china has a 4-digit number that assists in identifying the pattern name. Use the Noritake China website for pattern identification: it lists discontinued patterns so you can match the 4-digit number with a pattern name (see References for link).

Identify Noritake china patterns from pictures on Robbins Nest or Replacements websites, or use a book like "Noritake Dinnerware: Identification Made Easy" by Robin Brewer. Some patterns do not have clear numbers or pattern names stamped on the bottom, and if that is the case, it is best to compare photographs of the pattern with your dinnerware. It is also advisable to contact Noritake through their website if you have questions about matching your dinnerware patterns, as they are the primary source for Noritake information (see Resources for link).

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About the Author

Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.