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 Christmas Rose Tea Cup & Saucer No. 112 Antique French Haviland Limoges China Schleiger 74 Ramekin Cups & SaucersTheodore Haviland Limoges Schleiger 598a Double Gold 10 Bouillon Cups &saucersHaviland Covered Butter Dish - Schleiger 261 - 3 PieceHaviland Christmas Rose Luncheon Plate No. 1Rare Haviland & Co. France Double Gold & Roses Ramekin W/ Under PlatesAntique Theodore Haviland Limoges Cup Saucer Plate Roses Double GoldAntique Haviland Limoges France 8.5” Serving Bowl Rose Fancy GoldBeautiful Haviland Limoges Heavy Roses Sm. Ramekin W/under Plate! Good Gold!Haviland 330 Tea Cup & Saucer Set Forget Me Nots Pink Roses,double Gold Haviland Limoges Cabbage Rose & Holly Christmas Salad Plate Artist Signed10 Theodore Haviland Limoges Ramekins & Liners Heavy Gold Roses ShapedAntique Haviland & Co. Limoges Oyster Plate As Is Theodore Haviland Schleiger 330 Celery Dish-pink Blue Flowers-purple Bows-goldVintage Haviland Limoges Scalloped Plate Pink Roses Gold TrimAntique Haviland Limoges France Large Serving Bowl Large Pink Roses Double GoldTheodore Haviland Schleiger 330 Covered Vegetable-pink Blue Flowers-purple BowsAntique Limoges Haviland France Presidential Drop Rose Cake Plate Serving PlatteHaviland Limoges Schleiger 340 Double Gold Edge Covered Vegetable Serving DishVintage Haviland Limoges Floral Pattern PitcherTheodore Haviland Limoges France Double Gold Roses Set Of 6 Cups & Saucer PlatesHaviland Baltimore Rose - Chocolate SetMagnificent Haviland, Limoges, Cobalt, Gold Dinner Plates (4) W. Flower GarlandHaviland Limoges Oyster Plate Whales & Fish Pretty Look7 Pc Antique Hand Painted Dresser Vanity Set Limoges, Haviland, Nippon AustriaLeki Micro Vario Ti Cor-tec Trekking Poles7 Theodore Haviland Limoges Cups & Saucers Heavy Gold Roses ShapedMagnificent Haviland, Limoges, Cobalt, Gold Vegetable Bowl With Flower GarlandHaviland & Co Oyster PlateAntique Limoges Haviland M&c Co. Hot Chocolate * Tea * Coffee Pot Yellow RosesHaviland Drop Rose Salad Plate - Deep Pink Roses Schleiger 55dMagnificent Haviland, Limoges, Cobalt, Gold, Demitasse (3) W. Flower GarlandHaviland Drop Rose Luncheon Plate - Deep Pink Roses Schleiger 55lTheodore Haviland Schleiger 330 Cup & Saucer-pink Blue Flowers-purple Bows-gold5 Antique Theodore Haviland Schleiger 146o Apple Blossom & Gold Chocolate CupsMagnificent Haviland, Limoges, Cobalt, Gold Rimmed Soups (6) With Flower Garland2 Theodore Haviland Limoges Large Platters Heavy Gold Roses Shaped8 Theodore Haviland Limoges Bread Plates Heavy Gold Roses ShapedHaviland Christmas Rose Tea Cup & Saucer No. 2Haviland Limoges Carnations Pattern Hard To Find Double SaltHaviland Limoges Schleiger 340 Double Gold Edge Oval Relish Tray BowlTheodore Haviland Salad Plate - Schleiger 65 Pattern- Roses Antique Limoges Haviland Turkey Oyster Plate Hand Painted Gilt Crab Shells SnailAntique Haviland Limoges France Floral Pink Bow Handle Covered Casserole Dish2 Theodore Haviland Limoges Covered Vegetable Bowls Heavy Gold Roses Shaped5 Theodore Haviland Limoges France Double Gold Schleiger 844 Bread/butter PlatesHaviland France White/floral/gold Water Pitcher Haviland & Co. LimogesA Very Large Hand Painted Haviland Meat Platter With Longhorn Steer Images! 19th Century Haviland Limoges Turkey Oyster Plate1877-88 Antique Haviland & Co. Limoges: Platter Meat Drip Tray Only For PlatterBeautiful Haviland & Co. (h&co.) 11.5" Pedestal Serving Dish H1406 - 1880's Haviland Limoges 9 5/8" Ruffled Bowl W/ Pink & White RosesThomas Elsmore & Sons England 1880's Aesthetic Brown Transferware Platter Birds3 Haviland #270 Rose Saucers Pink Roses, Double Gold Perfect 5 3/8"Antique Haviland Limoges Cobalt Double Gold Relish Dish Pink Roses Near MintHaviland Limoges White Porcelain Gold Glit Sugar BowlHaviland Limoges Ranson Gold Salad Plate 7.5 InchRare Haviland E. Sandoz Art Deco Penguin Pitcher/creamer SignedHaviland Limoges Gravy Boat With Attached Underplate Pink & Yellow Roses Rare H&c L Butterfly Handle Haviland Co France Hp Tea Cup & Saucer Signed