The Great Porcelain Factories


To gain real proficiency as a collector of antique porcelain and china, it is necessary to gain a working knowledge of the many famous porcelain factories that have set the standard in china manufacture. To assist the novice in this enterprise today’s article will be a short list of some of the better-known porcelain factories in France.

Sevres- In 1745 a man called Charles Adams received from King Louis XV the right to make porcelain decorated with gilding and figures. His majesty denied this privilege to any other manufacturer.

The king’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour took a special liking to Sevres’ porcelain artificial flowers and ordered many. The flowers were even scented to match the flowers they duplicated.

Financial difficulties led the crown to assume control of the factories purse strings and passed further legislation to unfairly restrict the business practices of other porcelain manufacturers.

The company produced beautiful china in a dazzling variety of ornamental and practical shapes. They made dinner services, of course, as well as clock cases, jewelry boxes, candlesticks, and hundreds of others.

The oldest Sevres porcelain can be identified by its mark called the royal cipher. Two intertwined L’s facing each other. A dating letter stamped in the box like area between. Pieces made after 1792 will have the company’s name stamped on them

Chantilly- Sometime around 1725 the Prince of Conde, a great collector of exotic Japanese Imari porcelain, placed a porcelain factory under his patronage and encouraged it to duplicate his favorite oriental styles.

This manufacturer’s wares were made from an exceptionally fine white paste and developed a method for a special glaze that added luster to the decorations.

Chantilly pieces can be easily identified by its unique mark. The early work is marked with a simple red hunting horn. In later years the horn would be blue and usually accompanied by letters demarking individual sets.

Saint Cloud- This is probably one of the earliest china works in all of France. Although the details are unclear, it appears as if the Saint Cloud factory got its start around 1696.

Like the Chantilly factory, Saint Cloud got its start duplicating the patterns on imported oriental china. As the years went by the factory began to make more and more original patterns and improved its methods. The method improvements included the development of a glaze that contained an unusually small number of bubbles.

Saint Cloud porcelain is the variety least identifiable by its markings. The most common items made by the Saint Cloud manufacturer are teapots, knife handles, statuettes, and of course, plates. Generally they are marked with a sun shape stamped in the porcelain or with the letters S and C. However some others are marked with a blue cross.

Haviland- Haviland-Limoges china is arguably the most famous of all antique china. The first china made in the area followed the discovery of kaolin deposits, a fine white clay, nearby. This material was nearly perfect for the manufacture of china.

However, it wasn’t until 1842 that an American named David Haviland moved into the Limoges area that things really took off. Haviland became a French citizen but produced his china for the American market. Haviland brought American technical ability and combined it with French artistic sensibilities to produce some of the most popular china of all time.

The success of Haviland and then his sons encouraged the manufacture of porcelain in the area. By the end on the 19th century there were dozens of china manufacturers in the Limonges area.

Haviland china is easily identifiable by the family name stamped on the pieces. Since the U.S. began demanding the country of origin appear on all imported goods most Haviland china made after 1891 has the word France printed on them.
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Loretta Crawford is a free-lance writer on a variety of topics including: food, wine and antiques. She can be reached at Content and Solutions.com.

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