Blog by Dr. Lori

3 Mistakes Reading Marks

3 Mistakes Reading Marks

People are always looking for the mark on a piece of pottery thinking it will help them identify a piece, but if you are reading the mark incorrectly, you end up researching the wrong piece. This can lead to incorrect values. How can you misread a mark? Read these three common mistakes:

1. Don't Misread Numbers

Belleek mark

Don't think that a four digit number that looks like a date, such as 1931 or 1864, is the year that the piece was manufactured. Most of the time, these numbers are not dates but are rather mold numbers. That four digit number that looks like a year is actually a number--like an inventory number--that corresponds to the mold used to make the shape of your piece of pottery. There are so many molds that the pottery firm keeps track by having mold or inventory numbers. This is a a very common mark mistake. It has nothing to do with the date that your piece of pottery was made. Read tips on how to determine the age of pottery.

2. Don't Mistake One Mark for Another

Most people don't know that you could have two pieces of pottery with the same mark that were made at different times. Just because pottery marks look alike, that doesn't mean they are exactly the same. Marks are often reused so you could have a plate from 1905 with the same mark on it as another plate dating from 1950 by the same manufacturer. Look for a different color, additional numbers or forms, and other distinguishing factors. Watch video of me showing you how to decode pottery marks.

3. Don't Believe What You See

Marks may look as if they are from one country but are actually from another country. For instance, wartime production of pottery during World War I prompted German pottery manufacturers to be less specific with the marks they put on their pottery for export. Some people did not want to buy German ceramics at war time so the German pottery makers knowing this made their marks look more non-descript and some even made them look more American and British by using American or British-looking motifs, symbols, and images that reminded buyers of traditional pottery marks. Now that you have the mark, do you know how to tell bone china from porcelain?

Do you have a how do I read a mark question? Keep this article with you when you are shopping at that flea market or yard sale.

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