by Dr. Lori Verderame
Is your ceramic bowl marked Quimper? Don’t know what that means? Don’t know if it’s valuable? Actually, you may have a very desirable and valuable piece of French pottery.
What is Quimper pottery?
Quimper pottery gets its name from a town in the province of Brittany located in northwestern France. Like the region of Staffordshire, England where Staffordshire pottery is produced, Quimper has a longstanding history as a ceramics mecca. Quimper’s close proximity to rivers provides rich riverbed clay which is good for the making of pottery. Thus, the town attracted many skilled potters who established pottery firms there.
In the 1700s, Pierre Bousquet established a pottery factory in Quimper and later went into business with members of his extended family, the De La Hubaudieres to form Hubaudiere-Bousquet making pottery using the now famous “HB” mark. The factory’s pieces are marked with the highly recognizable “HB” mark and the town name “Quimper”. When understanding pottery marks, the history of the pottery firms and area where the pieces are mark assist in demonstrating authenticity.
Other factories ermerged in Quimper too and important pieces of pottery were traded at the height of Quimper’s artistic production from 1870 to 1930. Collectors desire Quimper pieces from this period and will pay more for them on the market today.
What to Look For
Hand painted, highly detailed decorations based on French prints featuring peasants in traditional costumes, landscapes, and intricate border decoration as seen in the above image of a bowl.
The word Quimper is typically found on pieces of Quimper pottery along with the pottery maker’s mark.
Good pieces of Quimper should have detailed hand painted decoration. Condition is always important and pottery should be free of cracks, chips, and overall crazing.
The problem with Quimper is that it is popular. I know that may not sound like a problem but that popularity encourages other pottery firms outside of Quimper to copy its hand-decorated designs. Many French factories outside of Quimper as well as American and even Japanese factories tried to copy Quimper pottery. As a result, not all pottery that looks like Quimper pottery is really Quimper pottery.
Sets of Quimper with plates, serving piece, cups, etc. can regularly command upwards of $5,000 to $7,500. Individual pieces such as vases featuring Breton folk tales or fish platters with exceptional hand-painted decoration bring thousands of dollars or more from Quimper collectors. That is thousands of dollars for one single piece.
Get an online appraisal of your Quimper piece from Dr. Lori.