Collecting Antique Limoges Porcelain


by Adriana Pourraid - Date: 2007-04-15 - Word Count: 646 Share This!

In his travels Marco Polo not only did he discovered noodles in China but also discovered a ceramic called Porcelain in which one of the primary substances used is kaolin (meaning white clay). At that time there wasn't any kaolin in Europe and the Chinese didn't want to give away their secret of it's processing. Europe imported kaolin from China and around the early part of 1700 they began the firing process for making porcelain. This was a starting point of the manufacture of the famous porcelain of Sevres. Then around 1760's kaolin was discovered in St. Yrieix La Perche France, a place near the town of Limoges. This was the beginning of many factories opening to make the highly desired by many collectors, Limoges porcelain, to meet the demands of the European courts. The pieces were sent to Paris to be decorated by very gifted artists.
The beauty of Limoges porcelain is that is so thin and strong at the same time and is almost flawless. The pieces that many collectors now are looking for, are pieces that were painted by masterful artists. There are a number of factors that determine the value of Limoges pieces, the artistry of the decoration, the factory that made it, the year that was made, if it is signed by the artist and the piece in itself sometimes. There are pieces like jardinières or a complete tea set, that are very valuables today, mostly because few sets survived as a whole and some jardinières are big. There are several factory marks that can determine the year it was made and also the factory decorating marks, establishing that the piece was decorated in the factory. You can see in the front the signature of the decorating French artists. Many items were blanks and amateur American artist decorated them, you can see their signature in the back of the piece, these can be very valuable some times. Many of these were women that did it as a hobby and they gave it as gift or to show their talent. For me the best part of Limoges porcelain is the exquisite decoration and the fragility of the porcelain. Most of these pieces of Limoges made at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th have a magic you are not going to see anymore.
Another very interesting piece of information connected to Limoges is the history of Haviland china. Limoges porcelain was almost unknown by Americans until an American importer of English ware in New York discovered it by chance, his name was David Haviland. He traveled to France and decided to import it here, but the French and American taste was different and at first he did not succeeded. Not giving up on his endeavor he decided to move to Limoges and opened a factory there and a decorating studio, to decorate the ware according to American taste. China sets were specially designed for the White House when Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Hayes and Harrison held office. This is not to say that their china was made for the rich, on the contrary, their main client was the American housewife.
His son, Theodore Haviland followed on his father's footsteps, and continued to produce functional china with great success, and he built the largest china factory in Limoges around the late 1800's.
There are many resources in the Internet to buy or to learn about Limoges. Whether you would like a piece of Limoges porcelain for display, to collect many or as a gift you are getting a piece of history and art. If you are money conscious they are a great investment too.
The author is webmaster, part owner and manager of Aday Collectibles, an online shop were together with her sister offers collectibles, vintage, antiques and fine art for sale. The shop can be found at http://www.adaycollectibles.com

Related Tags: antiques, art, collectibles, porcelain, limoges, hand-painted

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