Friday, December 31, 2010

Real Limoges Will Never Craze!

As you search online for that perfect piece of Limoges porcelain, make special note of the description details. As a quality conscious consumer, you should note any chips, cracks, repairs or wear. If a seller uses the term crazing to describe a piece of Limoges, BEWARE! Real Limoges will never craze.

Crazing is defined as a fine crackling visible on the surface of a dish; it allows dirt, dust, food particles, water and other ick to seep beneath the glaze and into the dish. Crazing begins as a few lines atop a dish, but can quickly become a network of tiny crackled lines as intricate as a spider's web. As moisture and dirt absorb into the dish, a stained and often moldy appearance develops, as seen in the photograph to the right.

Authentic Limoges porcelain is manufacuted in France by combining a perfect blend of ingredients, topped with a glaze. When baked at an extremely high temperature, the porcelain and glaze fuse into one solid piece, similar to a piece of glass. Like glass, real Limoges porcelain can crack or chip, but will never crackle or craze.

If you see the term "crazing" used to describe Limoges, you can bet the piece is either real Limoges sporting a crack or perhaps several cracks or simply not real Limoges.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Real Limoges is Not Made in China!

During the past several years, I've had dozens of people ask, "How do you know it's real Limoges and not a reproduction?" My answer is a relatively simple one, "Real Limoges is not made in China."

The manufacturing of Limoges porcelain began in FRANCE during the late 1700s and continues to this day. To identify their wares, most makers marked their products on the underside of the dish. The earliest wares may only include an obscure mark or initials, a bit confusing to a novice Limoges collector.

Luckily, the Limoges most people find aesthetically pleasing today, dates to a time when the United States required a country of origin be identified on all imported goods.

So~ as you inspect an item of interest, carefully examine the maker's mark. If it includes LIMOGES and FRANCE, the item is the real deal. If the mark reads Limoges China, you can be pretty certain it is a fake. Most "Limoges China" marked items were produced in the country of China during the last 10 to 20 years. Other items marked Limoges China include older, semi-vitreous and American made dinnerware, dishes prone to staining and crazing.

To the best of my knowledge, only one authentic manufacturer of antique Limoges porcelain had a mark that included the words LIMOGES CHINA. That company is Tressemann and Vogt and that mark will also include their name or T&V initials.

If you are serious about collecting Limoges porcelain, there are several books on market that identify the many Limoges marks, including the earlier, more nebulous ones. For mark identification and a general history of the dozens of Limoges companies, I personally prefer Mary Frank Gaston's Encyclopedia of Limoges.