How to Determine Marks on Theodore Haviland Limoges

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How to Determine Marks on Theodore Haviland Limoges
Haviland brought French Limoges porcelain to America. (Eglise à Limoge image by Boris Legrand from Fotolia.com)

Haviland Limoges is a collaboration of French and American porcelain makers. The French began producing porcelain in the 18th century near the city of Limoges. In the 1840s, David Haviland, a New York pottery dealer, sought to import Limoges porcelain for sale in America. Early Haviland was produced in France as blanks and sent to the United States for decorating. Haviland's son Theodore opened a factory in Limoges in the early 1890s, and William D. Haviland, Theodore's son, moved production to the United States in 1936. Theodore Haviland's pottery can be roughly dated and identified using the information on the maker's mark or backstamp.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Identify the maker's mark. Also called backstamp, this mark is on the underside of the object. Two types of maker's marks are on Theodore Haviland Limoges. One is the Haviland manufacturer's mark, and the other, if still present, is the mark of the decorating studio. The decorator's mark is less common and often an overglaze stamp that abrades away over time.

  2. 2

    Look for "TH," "Theo Haviland" or "Theodore Haviland" on the maker's mark. The design of the mark changed over time, but the piece should have some indication that it was produced by Theodore Haviland's company. Other marks identify his brother Charles (Haviland & Company) or nephew Frank.

  3. 3

    Search for a decorator's mark. Many pieces don't have a decorator's mark because they were sold as a blank (for the buyer to decorate) or the overglaze decorator's stamp wore off. Decorator's marks can be confusing, and research is necessary to identify them properly. A common Theodore Haviland decorator's mark is “Porcelaine” or “Porcelaine Mousseline.” Others decorator's marks have “Theodore Haviland” in script rather than block letters.

  4. 4

    Examine the mark closely to see if it is in overglaze red. An overglaze mark is often chipped, and you can feel the ridges of the lettering. Decorator's marks, particularly on hand-painted pieces, are overglaze. The early overglaze manufacturer's mark is red and consists of a "T" sitting on the bar of an “H.” This TH symbol is the first Theodore Haviland mark from 1892. It also may occur with the TH symbol inside of a sunburst circle as an early decorator's mark. “Theodore Haviland Limoges” in overglaze red script above “FRANCE” in block lettering is a late mark, after 1903.

  5. 5

    Inspect the mark to see if it is underglaze green or another colour. An underglaze mark feels smooth because it is under the glaze (printed on the piece before firing). The original underglaze mark is from 1892 and simply consists of the TH symbol (T sitting on bar of H). The “Mont Mery” mark above a motif of three castles is also from 1892. Other marks with the three castles motif are likewise from the 1890s. “THEO HAVILAND” above a script “Limoges” is from 1893, and “TH” with a ribbon and medallion between the letters dates after 1894. By 1900, marks varied greatly, but a common one is “Theodore Haviland” in a horseshoe shape around “France.”

Tips and warnings

  • Early hand-painted pieces with a decorator's mark are highly collectable and valuable.
  • Research pottery mark reference books or consult an appraiser to identify and date Haviland pieces more accurately.
  • Do not wash Haviland pieces in a dishwasher, which can damage overglaze decoration or the decorator's mark. Hand wash them very carefully.

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