As most people know, Limoges is actually a city in west-central France, the capital of a region called Limousin. However, in the world of antiques & collectibles, this term refers collectively to items made in Limoges and nearby locale.
Therefore, a generic Limoges mark on a decorative porcelain plate, porcelain box or chinaware does not necessarily correspond to any specific company or studio, but rather to one of more than 300 independent producers or decorators from that region that flourished since the middle of 19thC to Present. Many of these companies and porcelain decorating studios were established by local Limoges businessmen or individual artisans and some by foreign investors, such as Theodore Haviland from America. Although Haviland eventually moved some of their operations back to America in the 1930s, a modernized and well-equipped factory still remains in operation in Limoges, France.
Many marks on Limoges porcelain & chinaware are generic and feature a general symbol or simply the word “LIMOGES”. The vast majority of these were made by larger factories in the area and are then sold to independent decorative studios for hand-painting. Professional as well as amateur decorators in Limoges and elsewhere have played a significant role in making these items attractive to buyers, but unfortunately very few of them are documented or registered. They usually sign their name or place their initials somewhere within the decoration or on the back of a plate, yet there is no official registry that lists them. Some of them worked either directly or indirectly for larger companies or had their own studios (atelier).
When a hand-painted Limoges plate or dinner service has more than one mark, especially if these marks are stamped, it means that these items have been made by a certain factory and then outsourced for decoration by yet another. A third backstamp or mark may be that of a Trading company or an Exporters/Importers firm, frequently based in the USA. In this case, most of these Limoges backstamps have been documented and/or registered and are included in the Ceramics section of our database on our www.Marks4Antiques.com website along with a brief history or fact sheet on each company. Although the quality of just about all items made in Limoges is exceptionally high regardless of the company that made them or decorated them, these marks can help us estimate their age with a fair degree of accuracy. Vintage or antique Limoges porcelain items are obviously more valuable, whereas newer examples are sometimes made for the Tourist trade and are decorated in an assembly-type of manner. In fact, many recent Limoges plates and souvenirs, such as small and cute porcelain boxes, are actually made in China or the Far East as “blank ware” (undecorated white ware) and are then hurriedly decorated locally in Limoges, in which case they can then be stamped as genuine Limoges.
The decorative style mostly prevalent on Limoges plates, vases or chinaware and other similar objects is characterized by its dainty floral motifs with simple lines and pastel colors. Birds and other small animals are also frequently seen on hand-painted Limoges plates. Most common colors are yellow, lilac, green, pink or red, and light blue. Most have plenty of white spaces, especially on dinnerware. Pastoral scenes or mythological classical depictions and faces are quite rare on items from Limoges. A sharp departure was observed on items made in the early part of the 20thC when we see many examples of Art Deco or At Nouveau designs as was appropriate and popular for the period. Chinaware meant for use as dinnerware often have elegantly hand-painted fish or hunting scenes and other food-related images, like fruit, to enhance their intent of use. Gilt borders or hand-applied accents in gold color add yet another fine detail to some Limoges porcelain, especially on Oyster plates, which unfortunately rubs off or fades after a few decades, but is quite normal to re-touch or restore by a professional. Most glazes applied on Limoges wares are usually transparent and thin, but very durable, and rarely develop signs of wear, like crazing, unless used excessively or stored poorly.
To identify makers' marks on porcelain or pottery from Limoges, France, or other marks & backstamps using the name of Limoges and find prices to determine values for your Antique or Vintage collectibles, please see our Marks4Antiques service with thousands of examples of makers marks and millions of auction results for related items.