Tips by Dr. Lori


by Dr. Lori Verderame

In 1876, the Noritake firm was established by the Morimura Brothers in New York. The company was named for the village of Noritake which is a suburb of Nagoya, Japan.

Baron Ichizaemon Morimura was the founder of Noritake tableware china who started his porcelain empire with the interest in bringing trade to Japan. With his brother running a business called Morimura Brothers in New York, NY, Morimura was struct by the beautiful ceramics that he saw while visiting the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, where the Eiffel Tower was unveiled, and desired to produce fine porcelains in Japan for world consumption. In 1904, Noritake was established with a factory in Noritake-shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. The world famous brand of Noritake china featured applied gold and hand painting.


By 1914, the company had produced a line of fine porcelain dinnerware for the export market. The company also traded china, curio and decorative items, and gifts. In the early years of the factory, from the late 1800s to about the time of the onset of World War I, Noritake dinnerware pieces were hand painted and decorated with gold. 

What is China?

Noritake bottomChina is a combination of clay, kaolin, feldspar, and quartz. The mixture is molded into the desired form and numerous firings take place at high temperatures. China is white and translucent in color. 

China and porcelain are two terms for basically the same thing. They are just called different things in different places. China references the country of origin. Porcelain derives from the Latin word for seashell (porcella) to describe the look of the ceramic. China and porcelain both describe a ceramic that is smooth and white. In America, china is the commonly used word for such ceramics. In Europe, porcelain is the preferred term. China and porcelain are known for their quality appearance, resistance to chipping and breakage, and strength.

Another type of china is bone china where calcified bone is used and firing temperatures are lower than with porcelain. Bone china is thinner and softer than porcelain. Bone ash, a white powdery substance, is the ingredient that provides the ceramic piece with a milky color of white. Bone china will not break as easily because the bone ash adds strength to the body of the object.

Noritake mark

Noritake chocolate sets, dinnerware sets, ashtrays, serving pieces, bowls, etc. are collectible. Vintage pieces command several hundreds of dollars for complete sets in good condition.

What To Look For

The Noritake stamp with letter “M” for “Morimura” and a wreath with the words “Hand painted” became well known. The wreath element in the mark was used from circa 1914 until 1940. Some Noritake china has the word “Nippon” on it however that would be used only until 1921 when import rules required the use of the word “Japan” on such export items. The Noritake stamp was presented in green, blue, gold, and magenta.

Noritake china was manufactured during the years of the Occupation of Japan between 1945/48 and 1953 and were stamped with the words “Occupied Japan” or “Made in Occupied Japan” along with the back stamp.

Get an online appraisal of your Noritake piece from Dr. Lori.

Schedule a Dr. Lori Event

Dr. Lori events
Dr. Lori presents her popular Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show around the world at 150 shows a year entertaining audiences. Ask us how to book an event for you.

Dr. Lori's Blog

Dr. Lori reveals insider information and tips about the world of antiques. Subscribe here »
3 Ways to Find Valuable Antiques

3 Ways to Find Valuable Antiques

Want to know how to spot that valuable thrift store find? Don't know what to look for when cleaning out Grandma's attic or when you are downsizing? It's a common question and Dr. Lori provides secrets to spot those prints, posters, silver and ceramics that are valuable. Don't rely only on marks or signatures. They could fool you. You must read this article so you aren't throwing away a valuable or walking past it at a thrift store.

Read More »