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    

Elegant Theodore Haviland Schleiger 319 Covered Sauce Boat11 Antique Haviland Limoges France 9-5/8" Dinner Plates Pink Flower, Star BlankAntique Haviland Huge Quatrefoil Pitcher Pink Roses Holly Berries * Double GoldHaviland Limoges H & Co. Chocolate Pot Pink Roses Gold Encrusted RibbonsSigned Limoges Haviland Cup & Saucer W/ Pink Roses - Set 10Haviland & Co. Limoges Double Gold Footed Covered Bowl Pink Flower Swags Nice22~ Piece Set Of Rare Haviland Limoges In The #39d Pattern Pink Roses & Dbl GoldHaviland Limoges Tea Cup Saucer H2003 Large Pink Yellow Rose Double GoldMagnificent Haviland Baltimore Rose Chop Plate/serving Tray - 12 1/2"Vintage Haviland Limoges France Chocolate Cup & Saucer Gold Trim Rose MultiSet Of 6 Unusual & Pretty Haviland Limoges Plates For Burley Co Chicago No Res4 Haviland Limoges France Made Gimble Bros Milwaukee Tea Cups Double Gold PinkGorgeous! Cup Saucer Dark Drop Rose Haviland Limoges Schleiger 55(6) Antique Haviland Limoges Bread Plates Schleiger 340 Pink Roses Double Gold~haviland Limoges~hand Painted Pink Roses Thick Gold Ribbon Handle Cocoa Cup/scrLot 3 Vintage Haviland Limoges France Tea Cup Saucer Pink Rose Double GoldHaviland Limoges France China - The Princess - Coffee PotHaviland Limoges Creamer & Sugar, Pink Flowers Double Gold TrimAntiquehaviland Ak Limoges Chocolate Pot Swallow Bird Orchid Gold Split Hand Haviland Limoges France Covered Sugar Bowl Pink Green Blue Double GoldTheodore Haviland Limoges Schleiger 330 Cup & Saucer Rose Swags, Wreaths & BowsVintage Theodore Haviland Limoges 8" Bowl (pink Rose) Signed Limoges Haviland Soup Bowl W/ Pink Roses - Set 6Fine Haviland & Co Limoges Schleiger 29k Covered Vegetable Bowl Mint7.5" Haviland Pickard Limoges Hand Painted Lily Plate Signed Blazek? Blalek?(6) Haviland Drop Rose Dark Pink Double Gold Schleiger 55d 8.5" Plates - Issues!Signed Limoges Haviland Vegetable Serving Bowl W/ Pink Roses - Pair - 10" & 7"Vintage Haviland Limoges Small Floral Tea Cup And Saucer2 Haviland Limoges Cups & Saucers, Pink Flowers Double Gold Trim Scalloped Lot 1Signed Limoges Haviland Dinner Plate 9&5/8" W/ Pink Roses - Set 6~haviland Limoges~ Pink Rose Garlands Blue Flowers Fancy Gold Demi Cup & SaucerVintage Theodore Haviland Limoges 7" Bowl ( Pink Rose )Johann Haviland Blue Garland Coffeepot Bavaria Germany Mint Conditon! No Reserve1 Dinner Plate - Drop Rose Haviland - Red - 9 9/16"Signed Limoges Haviland Gravy Boat W/ Pink RosesVintage Theodore Haviland Limoges 8 1/2" Bowl (pink Rose) Antique Haviland China Limoges France Oyster Plate Crab Antique~1900's Pink Roses~swags~gold Gilding Theodore Haviland Limoges BowlAntique Haviland Porcelain Creamer Pitcher Swags Of Pink Roses + Blue FlowersVintage Haviland & Company - Limoges - Pink Floral Tea Cup And Saucer(10) Theodore Haviland Tea Cups & Saucers W/ Petite Pink Flowers & Gold Trim6 Haviland Limoges Desert Plates, Pink Flowers Double Gold Trim ScallopedHaviland Limoges Oyster Plate - Flowers & A ButterflyVtg Theodore Haviland Limoges Lilac Flowers Dinner Plates Set Of 5 France Theodore Haviland Tea Cup & Saucer - Pink Roses/green Scroll S144fVintage Porcelain Tea Pot With Roses & Gold - Haviland FranceAntique Lot Haviland Limoges Unmatched 3 Teacups 5 Saucers Different Patterns4 Haviland Limoges Dinner Plates, Pink Flowers Double Gold Trim Scalloped, Lot 2Antique Haviland France Chocolate Pot Stunning ColorsFine Haviland Limoges Pink Rose Cup & Saucer Trio SetSigned Limoges Haviland Sauce Dish W/ Pink Roses - Set 9Haviland Limoges White W Purple Violets Trinket Box. Imperatrice EugenieHaviland Limoges Three Piece Hand Painted Yellow Roses Cup Saucer Plate Set 1894Theodore Haviland "clinton" Tea Cup And Saucer Fine ChinaCh Field Haviland - Limoges France - Gold Incrustation - Dinner Plate34pc Haviland Limoges France Anniversary Gold Dinner China Plates Saucers CupsSigned Limoges Haviland 14" Serving Platter W/ Pink RosesSigned Limoges Haviland Serving Bowl W/ Pink Roses - Pair - 9" & 7.5"Haviland 3 Bouillon Cup 7 Saucer Schleiger 144 Blank 131 Pink Roses Green Scroll4 Pc~theodore Haviland Limoges France Dinner Plate Pink Yellow Flower Schleiger