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    

5-pc Place Setting Haviland Limoges Schleiger 319 Pink Drop Rose Wreath Swag Antique Elite Limoges Cabbage Rose Garlands Gold Gilt Porcelain Tea Coffee PotHaviland Limoges Morning Glory Pink & Pale Blue Floral 4 Cups & SaucersMagnificent, Haviland, Limoges, Clear Soup Bowls, (6) Hand Painted, GiltHaviland Limoges Creamer And Sugar With Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges Drop Rose Wreath 1 Bouillon Cup & 2 SaucersAntique Haviland Limoges France Plate Large Enameled Pink Roses Superior SignedHaviland Limoges Platter Pair Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges Schleiger Double Handled Cream Soup Purple Bows Lot #2Haviland Limoges Plate Set 10 Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges Sauce Dish Set 6 Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges France Pink Rose Hand Painted Porcelain Demitasse Cup & SaucerHaviland Limoges Hair Pin Dish Bowl Pair Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges Schleiger #72 Double Gold Scalloped Footed Ramekin W/saucerAntique Pickard, Haviland France Pitcher - Hand Painted - Signed SchonerHaviland Limoges Medium Sized Chocolate Pot, Baltimore RoseAntique Jp Limoges France Cup And Saucer Plate Roses Bows Baskets Forget Me NotAntiq Haviland Limoges France 10pc Compote And Plate Set Hand Painted Roses GoldHaviland Limoges Bouillon Cup And Saucer, Sch 1151 Baltimore Rose Pink Haviland Limoges Tea Cup And Saucer, Baltimore Rose, Sch 1151bHaviland Limoges Tea Cup And Saucer, Baltimore Rose, Sch 1151b Mixed Blank Haviland Limoges Demitasse Sugar Bowl With Lid, Baltimore Rose PinkAntique Haviland Limoges France Chocolate Coffee Pot 10 1/2"1903 Theodore Haviland Limoges 14 Pc Ranson Shape Chocolate Set Schleiger No. 1Antique Limoges France Floral Salad Plate Large Blue And Gold Bows Ribbons (a)Antique 100 Piece Haviland China SetRose Garland & Rose Sprays Haviland Limoges Oval Lidded Serving TureenTheodore Haviland Limoges 9.5 Schleiger Dinner Plate. Gold, Bows And RosesAntique Limoges France Fancy Footed Bowl And Plate Hand Painted Roses GoldLimoges Chocolate Pot Sweet Pink Flowers Gilded Gold Trim Flower Finial C1891Haviland Limoges Coffee Cup And Saucer, Sch 72Haviland Limoges Bread Plate Set 10 Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Haviland Limoges Chocolate Pot Green Band Pink Roses Gold Trim - No LidAntique Elite Limoges France Ruffled Fancy Footed Bowl Enameled Poppies GoldAntique Haviland Limoges France Baltimore Rose 2pc Figural Mayo Sauce Bowl PlateAntiq 15pc Haviland Limoges France Mixed Lot Roses Double Gold Ect As-is MosaicsSet 6 Cups 6 Saucers Goa France Ch Haviland Limoges Bone China Floral Gold TrimHaviland Blue Garland Beverage Server W Platinum Trim - Original BoxLimoges Haviland France Tarascon Chocolate Pot & Sugar Bowl Estate Find NrHaviland Limoges France Hand Painted Trio Cup Saucer Plate Florals & Gold Haviland Limoges Schleiger 422b Double Gold Scrolls Round Covered Serving DishHaviland Covered Serving Bowl Pink Wild Roses Gold Perfect Round. Footed Base4 Haviland Cups & 4 Saucers Perfect Pink Roses Gold Haviland Norma Serving Bowl On Ranson Blank PerfectHaviland Limoges Schleiger 57 Bouillon Cups And Saucers (5 Sets)Havland Limoges Pink & Pale Blue Morning Glory Pattern Sugar BowlFive Antique Haviland Limoges Desert/salad Plates, Schleiger 72 Limoges Serving Bowl With Clover And Purple/pink Flowers4 Ch. Field Haviland Limoges Ramekins W/ Underplate Pink Floral Excellent Theodore Haviland Limoges Varenne Oval Serving Dish Swags Gold Trim Haviland Limoges Morning Glory Pink & Green Relish DishHaviland Limoges Large Cup With Saucer Pink Roses Gold Swag And Blue Fl…Traditions Fine China Johann Haviland Moss Rose 40 Pc Service For 8 - 5 Pc EachJohann Haviland Traditions Fine China Blue Garland Covered Butter DishHaviland Limoges Silver Anniversary Soup Bowls - Lot Of 6Haviland Limoges France Hand Painted Cabinet Plate Large Pink Roses Gold #1Theodore Haviland Limoges 9" Plate Floral Pink Roses Ornate Gold StencilingCh Field Haviland Limoges Gda Pink Roses And White Daisy RamekinsTheodore Haviland Limoges France Set Of 4 Cups And SaucersSet Of 6 Beautifully Hand Painted 7.5" Plates - Haviland Limoges - Lots Of Gold