Best OF OLD WORLD Vintage Antique Collectable DECOR


Your Cart is Empty

January 15, 2024

Limoges…what is it? Those porcelain dinnerware sets, trinkets boxes, and tea sets adorned with fluffy, pink, cabbage-style roses, tend to be categorized as examples of the “Limoges” porcelain. Limoges, however, is not a company, but rather a term that has come to encompass a variety of porcelain pieces produced in a specific area. 

Limoges Porcelain does not come from a single factory or maker but instead comes from the area around Limoges in France. This means that while Limoges are always marked, the marks differ depending on the factory or workshop where they were made and the artists that have painted them.

Generally, any Genuine item of Limoges porcelain will carry the insignia “Peint Main” or Peint à la Main” which means the item is hand-painted, as well as including “Limoges France” showing that the piece was indeed made in the area surrounding the city of Limoges. Many will also carry the factory insignia and/or brand insignia as well as the initials of the studio or artist.

Limoges refers to a region in the middle (slightly to the west) section of France. In the 1770s, it was discovered that areas rich with suitable clay were located near Limoges, and so, several porcelain factories set up shop in this region. Therefore, “Limoges” doesn’t denote a particular company, but rather the area where the factory was located: Limoges. Debby Dubay, a Limoges porcelain expert, explains that because there were so many factories working in this area (over 48) and a myriad of identifying marks (over 400), the term “Limoges has ultimately become the generic name for all of the porcelain produced in factories in this region” (Dubay 9). (Tressemann & Vogt (T&V), Bernardaud, William Guerin (W.G.& Co.), Jean Pouyat (J.P.L), and Haviland & Co. are some of the more widely known of the Limoges-based factories today).

Because of its beauty and quality of porcelain, Limoges pieces are still highly collected and sought after, with the factory-decorated “Limoges” being the most desired and valuable. These pieces were hand-painted by French factory artists (rather than the design applied as a decal-transfer—like a sticker). There should be two marks on such a piece: the factory mark and the decorating mark. Here are some terms to be familiar with:

  • Blank: the shape of the undecorated porcelain. The blanks would then be decorated by factory’s decorating studio, or they could be sold or outsourced to another factory/artist studio specializing in decoration.
  • Underglaze factory mark(sometimes called the backstamp or whiteware-mark): this mark was imprinted onto the undecorated, unfired, “unglazed” porcelain blank. It can be a logo, a set of letters, a name, or a symbol and it will usually be green or black. This mark identifies the specific factory in Limoges which produced that piece of porcelain. (There were over 48 porcelain factories in the Limoges area, remember!) This mark should, except in very rare instances, be present.
  • Overglaze decorating mark: from the factory, decorating studio, or the artist which decorated the blank. Since this mark is on top of the glaze, it will look clearer than the underglaze factory mark. The decorating mark is usually a red, blue, or purple color.
  • Import mark: sometimes a third mark will appear on the piece. If that piece was ordered by an overseas retailer, this mark would identify the store it would have been sold at (i.e. Tiffany’s, New York).

(I recommend studying Dubay’s book, which includes over twenty pages featuring hundreds of examples of these marks.)

Lessons in Limoges 

Limoges are a particular victim of reproductions and fakes. There are many giveaways, though, that the savvy collector can be armed with, specifically helping with the marks, material, and “maturity.” With advice from Dubay’s book, here is an appraising checklist:

Meddling with the “Marks”

  1. True Limoges come from France! If the mark includes “CHINA” or “ROC” (Republic of China)—beware! 
  2. If the mark features a gold script or fleur-de-lis, this is rings of inauthenticity. 
  3. Whereas a true Limoges could have up to three marks, a fake/reproduction would, at the most, have just one.
  4. A fake/reproduction’s “underglaze factory” mark differ from the traditional color scheme of true Limoges marks: fakes are usually light blue, gray, or gold, rather than the familiar green or black.

Material Magic

  1. The tap-test: Limoges pieces are made from a hard-paste porcelain** (refer to history section below). When tapped with a finger, this type of porcelain will have a pure, clear-as-crystal ring. (A fake/reproduction will emit a “thud” sound).
  2. Go for the glow! Limoges porcelain has a translucency when held up to light, whereas fake/reproductions will be opaque.
  3. Hand-painted Limoges have more intricate designs painted in muted colors. (Fakes/reproductions would appear simpler and use bolder colors).

Maturity is key: Limoges porcelain ages well!

  1. A true Limoges is an antique. Therefore, its gold paint should have accrued a patina over the years. According to Dubay, a reproduction would feature “offensively bright gold in perfect condition” (Dubay 23).
  2. Hard-paste porcelain is a durable material. Therefore, a true Limoges wouldn’t suffer from cracking, crackling, or crazing. A true Limoges looks pretty much brand-new! 
    1. If you want to collect an authentic Limoges, then the condition is extremely important. According to art appraisers, a marked piece in perfect condition is the safest buy. 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.



Welcome to the Loyalty Points Demo Store :-)

Sign up and receive 5000 pts to test out in our Store.

Earning and redeeming Reward Points

Earns you
Redeems to

Ways you can earn

  • Product Purchase
  • Refer a friend
  • Share on social media

Learn more about our program