In 1839, a customer brought a broken cup to David Haviland, a retailer who ran a china shop in New York. Haviland, as they say in the Big Apple, knew from china, but he had never seen anything like this. Being a particularly determined individual, Haviland eventually matched the cup with one from Limoges—the French city known for its pure, white kaolin clay—and in 1842 he built a factory there to produce china specifically for the American market.

Appealing to American tastes meant not only bone-white china of flawless quality and uniformity but also engaging, colorful designs. Haviland hired a painter and sculptor named Felix Bracquemond to lead his design team, and Bracquemond, in turn, created an atmosphere that drew painters as renowned as Paul Gauguin and Raoul Dufy to the firm.

It wasn’t long before Haviland china was a frequent guest at the White House. Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison all ate off Haviland china. While the high profile of supplying presidents with dinnerware certainly helped the firm’s reputation, in the 19th century, Haviland’s target customers were mainly Victorian housewives. The way to these customers’ hearts, it was believed, was to provide them with lots and lots of choices.

In fact, in the more than 150 years between the time Haviland embarked on his audacious adventure and the present day, the company has produced more than 20,000 patterns of fine china; some say the number is closer to 30,000. To make matters more complex, there have been five different Haviland companies over the years on several continents, including the United States.

Of those 20,000-30,000 patterns, only about 4,000 have been given a Schleiger number. When it comes to Haviland, the name Schleiger is almost more important to the collector than Haviland. It refers to Arlene Schleiger, a Nebraskan who, in the late 1930s, was trying to fill holes in a set of her mother’s china. Much to her consternation, she learned that Haviland never bothered to put the names of its patterns on its pieces.

Using the backmarks on the bottoms of Haviland pieces as her guides, Schleiger and her son Dick, both of whom have since passed away, managed to identify 4,000 patterns—the last volume of their six-book set, which is illustrated by Dick, was published in 1991. Today, Haviland dealers and collectors often refer to patterns by their Schleiger number. So, for example, a plain, white, scallop-edged pattern called Ranson is also known as Schleiger No. 1.

Despite all the difficulties associated with collecting and identifying Haviland, the dinnerware remains immensely popular. For example, people love the floral patterns from the ...

For those who, like Arlene Schleiger, are simply trying to fill out a pattern, one of the tricks is to identify the pattern’s "blank," which is the shape of, say, a plate before any sort of pattern is painted or screened onto it. Common Haviland & Co. blanks include Bowknots, Cannelé, Diamond, Double Scallops, Fiddle, Napkin Fold, Silver, and Strasburg. Theodore Haviland blanks include Chippendale, Geisha, Ruby, and Theo Ranson. One particularly handsome American-made Theodore Haviland blank is called Wheat.

Finally, there are the collectors who gravitate to the non-dinnerware Haviland pieces. For them, a humidor in the shape of Mephistopheles’ head (his mouth being the ashtray) is an especially sought-after prize, as are the firm’s hand-painted terra-cotta vases from the late 19th century.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Haviland China Limoges Red Roses Sherbet Set/6Rare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - 4 Cup And Saucer SetsHaviland China Limoges Red Roses Sherbet Set/2Rare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - Covered Casserole DishVictorian Dark Drop Rose Cup Saucer Haviland Limoges Schleiger 55-22Haviland China Limoges Red Roses SherbetRare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - 4 Soup Bowls - 7½ InchesHaviland Christmas Rose Large Bowl Double Gold #22 LimogesWater Pitcher, Theodore Haviland Limoges France, Rose Pattern W/ Gold Trim NrHaviland Baltimore Rose PitcherHaviland Baltimore Rose Reticulated Oval BowlHaviland Baltimore Rose Ice RelishHaviland Fancy Cake Plate 11 1/4" Pink Roses Double Gold #22 Perfect LimogesRare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - 4 Dinner Plates - 9¾ InchRare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - 4 Bread Plates - 6¼ InchesAntique Haviland Limoges Rose Garland Cup & Saucer SetAntique Haviland Limoges France Schleiger # 330 Cup And SaucerHaviland Baltimore Rose Heart Shaped Plate RareHaviland Baltimore Rose Egg CupAntique Theodore Haviland Limoges France 14" PlatterRare Haviland Limoges - Pink Drop Rose Green Border - Round Handled Tray 13"Haviland China Limoges Red Roses Rectangular Tray PlatterAntique Haviland Limoges France 12'' Serving Tray Platter Pink Roses Purple BowsVintage Haviland France Lamoges Double Gold Gravy BoatHaviland & Co Limoges Creamer Flowers / Gold TrimHaviland Baltimore Rose Jelly DishGorgeous Antique Haviland Limoges Pink Rose Garland Platter 10" By 14"Haviland Limoges Open Oval Vegetable Bowl, Drop RoseHaviland Baltimore Rose Salad BowlHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 4 Soup Cups SaucersHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 7 9 3/4" Dinner PlatesVery Rare Haviland Baltimore Rose Tea TileHaviland Baltimore Rose 5 O'clock Tea Cup And SaucerAntique Haviland Limoges Decorative Baltimore Roses Bowl Scalloped GoldHaviland Hand Painted Limoges 8 Enameled Plates Gold Pink Rose, Pansies, FlowersHaviland & Co. Limoges, France, 5 Custard Ramekin Bowls W Saucers Thistle 1900Beautiful Haviland Limoges Platter & 3 Fruit Bowls Pink Roses Blue Flowers GoldAntique Haviland Limoges France Serving Bowl Pink Roses Fancy GoldHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 8 8 1/2" Lunch PlatesHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 9 6 1/" B&b Plates4 Haviland Schleiger 1151 Baltimore Rose 5.25" Sm. Bowl - Pink Yellow Roses Gold Haviland & Co Limoges France 6 Bone Dishes Pink Flower W/gold Trim Antique Haviland Limoges Covered Serving DishLot Of 4 Theodore Haviland New York Hamilton Cups & Saucers W/pink Roses UsaHaviland Limoges Hand Painted Tea Cup Saucer Pink Mauve White Roses 1894Antique Haviland Limoges Scalloped Double Gold Bowl Pink Rose Serving PlateFrank Haviland Baltimore Rose Oval Vegetable Bowl Haviland Limoges Schleiger 497 Pink Drop Rose Scalloped Tray Double GoldHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 10 Berry BowlsAntique Theodore Haviland Limoges France 2 Bone Dishes Pink/yellow Floral W/goldHaviland Limoges Hand Painted Tea Cup Saucer Pink Mauve White Roses 1894Antique Haviland Limoges France Schleiger # 330 Dinner PlateCh. Field Haviland Limoges Monet Giverny Cup And SaucerHaviland Limoges Schleiger 270 Swags Of Roses Double Gold 4 7 1/2" Desert PlatesCh. Field Haviland Limoges Monet China 7.5" Salad Plate Antique Haviland Porcelain Handled Bowl Pink Roses Green Scrolls Lush Gilt TrimHaviland Limoges Double Gold Roses 18" Platter Schleiger 340Theodore Haviland "varenne" Pink Swag 10 3/8 Inch Dinner PlateJohann Haviland Blue Garland China Two 20 Piece Sets From 1970'sCh. Field Haviland Limoges Monet China 10 Inch Dinner Plate