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    

Gorgeous Antique Limoges 14 Pc Chocolate Set Triple Gold W/ Blue ChrysanthemumHaviland Limoges France Chocolate Pot Feu De Four 65 Falling Rose Intricate GoldHaviland France Schleiger 55 Drop Rose Chocolate Pot 1880s Cfh Charles Field Haviland Fish Hp Platter Plate Set-12Antique Theodore Haviland Limoges Teacup And Saucer Pink Roses Double Gold 3 Antique Haviland Limoges Porcelain Plates Pink Roses Drop Rose + Double GoldAntique Haviland Limoges France 844 Tea Cup And Saucer Pink Roses Double Gold !Antique Haviland Limoges France Bowls Pink Flowers Blue Daisies Bows Double Gold2 Haviland Schleiger 319 Drop Rose Wreath Cups And Saucers, Double GoldAntique Haviland Limoges Clark Sawyer Co Tall Coffee Chocolate Pot Pink FlowersHaviland Terra Cotta Vase By Edouard Girard,exquisite!4 Haviland Schleiger 32f - Double Gold - Star Blank - Tea Cups And SaucersVintage Haviland Limoges Fine Bone China Pink Floral Teacup & Saucer 1893-1940Haviland France Schleiger 55 Drop Rose 4 Chocolate Cup & SaucersAntique Haviland Limoges Lemonade Water Ice Tea Pitcher France Pink Blue FloralAntique Elite Limoges France Floral Plate Pink Roses And Fancy Double GoldAntique Theodore Haviland Limoges France White Pink Flowers Gold Casserole Dish Antique Haviland Limoges Bouillon Cup And Saucer ~ Baltimore Rose * Pink RosesTheodore Haviland Antique 1903 Chocolate Pot Gilded Pitcher Roses Limoges FranceAntique Haviland Limoges Oyster Plate, C 1870 - Sea LifeAntique Haviland Limoges France Lidded Sugar Bowl Dark Drop Rose Numbered MintTheodore Haviland Limoges France Varenne Oval Soup TureenTheodore Haviland Limoges #340 Cream Pitcher; Pink Roses, Blue Scrolls; 4" TallEstate Fresh Ch Field Haviland Limoges Art Nouveau Porcelain Dinner Dish Service3 Antiq Haviland Limoges France Cups And Saucers Pink Blue Asters Heart HandlesAntique 1870's Haviland & Co Pour Gilman Collamore Union Square Ny H&co Limoges9 Vintage Haviland Limoges Porcelain ~ China Cups & Saucers White Pink FlowersAntique Haviland Limoges France 3 Tea Cups & Saucers Drop Rose For Mayer Excell.Lovely Haviland Limoges Schleiger #488 Large Pink Roses Six Dinner Plates Limoges Hand Painted Covered Bowl - Haviland Ranson MoldAntique Theodore Haviland Limoges Covered Vegetable Dish, Morning Glories Haviland Limoges Schleiger #488 Large Pink Roses Six Dinner Plates Antique Haviland Limoges France Cream Pitcher Creamer Dark Drop Rose Mint6 Antique Double Gold Pink Roses Haviland & Co. Limoges France 6 1/4" Plates !!!Haviland Schleiger 525 - Oval Serving Dish - Morning Glories And Gold ExcellentHaviland Limoges China Pink Floral Round Bowl Made In France & Hand Painted~haviland Limoges~ Pink Roses Gorgeous Gold Lace Overlay Like Baltimore Rose 6"Antique Haviland Limoges France Ice Cream Dish Dark Drop Rose Tab Handle MintHaviland Limoges Rose Shabby-chic China 36 PiecesRare Exquisite Haviland Limoges France Creamer Lot Of Gold And PatternVintage Haviland Limoges Porcelain China Covered Serving Bowl Pink Flowers Gold9 Vintage Haviland Limoges Porcelain ~ China Dinner Plates White Pink FlowersAntique Haviland Limoges France Oval Relish Dish Dark Drop Rose MintTheodore Haviland Limoges 6 Sets Cups And Saucers Pink Roses With Gold TrimLovely Haviland Limoges Pink Rose Blue Scroll Reticulated Gold 8 1/2" Plate - NrHaviland Limoges Wedding Band China 4 Salad Plates- White, Gold Trim, D MonogramHaviland Limoges - Double Gold Pink Green Flowers - 4 Coffee Cups And SaucersHaviland Baltimore Rose Individual Open Dish Tab Handles Intricate Gold C.1898 Ch Field Haviland Limoges Cfh Gdm France Lilly Of The Valley Floral CreamerHaviland Limoges 4 Berry Bowls Schleiger 39a Swags Roses Leaves Double GoldHaviland Luncheon Plate - Pink Roses-green/gold Edge S65dHaviland Limoges Boullion Soup Cup Saucer Swags Roses Heavy Double Gold Vintage Haviland Limoges Porcelain China Serving Platter ~ Pink Flowers Gold #1Haviland Schleiger 55 - Drop Rose Luncheon Plate 8 5/8" Dark Pink RosesVintage Haviland Limoges Porcelain China Serving Platter ~ Pink Flowers Gold #3Stunning Antique Haviland Limoges France Gold Gild Leaves Cup Saucer Plate TrioAntique Haviland Limoges France 3 Salad Plates 7 3/8" Dark Drop Rose Excellent Set Of 6 Theodore Haviland Ramekins W/liners With Pink Roses & Gold Daubs Theodore Haviland Antique 1903 Chocolate Pot Gilded Pitcher Roses Limoges France2 Haviland Schleiger 319 Drop Rose Wreath Coupe Soup Bowls, Double Gold