How to identify pottery makers' marks

Written by marysia walcerz
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How to identify pottery makers' marks
Pottery being sculpted on a wheel (pottery image by Avesun from Fotolia.com)

Pottery marks are small insignias that are engraved, embossed or painted into a piece of pottery to identify the artist or company that produced the piece. If you can identify a pottery mark, you can find out all kinds of information about the artist, location of production and production date of a pottery piece. There are several resources for identifying pottery marks, including encyclopedias of pottery marks that are both online and off. If you're having difficulty identifying your pottery mark, you may want to turn to an antiques dealer for help.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Flashlight
  • Magnifying glass
  • Paper
  • Pencil

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Find the pottery mark on your piece of pottery. Pottery marks are often placed on the bottom or inside of a piece, so you might need a flashlight to view them. Hold the piece up to natural light and closely examine the entire surface until you find the mark.

  2. 2

    Copy the pottery mark down onto a piece of paper. Be sure to get all of the details, and note the size and the method with which the mark was applied to the piece of pottery (engraving, embossing or painting).

  3. 3

    Take the piece of paper to your local library and look up the mark in a dictionary of pottery marks, such as "Kovels' New Dictionary of Marks: Pottery and Porcelain," "Lehner's Encyclopedia Of US Marks On Pottery, Porcelain Clay" or the "Pictorial Guide To Pottery And Porcelain Marks."

  4. 4

    Look up your pottery mark in an online pottery mark dictionary, such as the one at The Potteries, Antiques Help or Antique Marks.

  5. 5

    Take the pottery mark to an antiques dealer if you are having difficult identifying the mark on your own. Most antiques dealers are well versed in identifying marks and should be able to help.

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