Antique Limoges China and Porcelain

Even though the word Limoges is synonymous with fine bone china, it was not until the late 18th century that the chief ingredient for porcelain, a mineral called kaolin, was discovered in the nearby town of Saint-Yrieix. In 1771, the brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet established the first Limoges porcelain factory. It was successful enough that the King of France purchased the plant in 1784 so it could exclusively make white porcelain to be decorated at the royal porcelain factory at Sèvres outside of Paris.

During the 19th century, particularly during the Victorian era, a number of famous porcelain factories established themselves, including Alluaud, Baignol, Gibus et Cie., Pouyat, and Tharaud. French ceramists and businessmen founded the majority of these factories, but it took an American to make Limoges an international household name.

In 1842, a New Yorker named David Haviland built a factory in Limoges that would become the most famous Limoges brand of them all. Haviland china was made in Limoges for the U.S. market, and over the years the various firms that have used the Haviland name produced more than 20,000 patterns of china and dinnerware. In 1880, one of those Haviland patterns led to a commission from the White House, which boosted the firm’s growing reputation.

By the 19th century, Limoges was so popular in Victorian England that so-called Limoges ware was being made in Worcester. But this sort of cross-fertilization was not the mere plagiarism that it might at first seem. Indeed, Limoges factories also borrowed freely from their influencers. In the 19th century, for example, Limoges potteries copied the styles and patterns produced by Japanese and Indian makers; much of this “Oriental” Limoges ware was made for the new U.S. market.

In the Edwardian era, when dainty gilded tea sets were a common Limoges product, a similar homage was paid to Meissen, Sèvres, and Viennese porcelain makers, whose 18th-century vases were routinely produced by Limoges factories for their high-end customers. Some Limoges pieces featured copies of famous paintings by J.M.W. Turner on their sides. Later, in the 20th century, the Japanese porcelain manufacturer Noritake would base many of its designs on those made by companies based in Limoges a century earlier.

One group of Limoges pieces that are more particular to Limoges are the blanks that, in the 1800s, were sent to the U.S. to be decorated by members of amateur china-painting guilds. Painters in these guilds would typically follow the instruction manuals and patterns that came with the unfinished plates and vases. These pieces are not especially collectible today, but many are lovely, which means a handsome collection can be put together rather inexpensively.

Finally there were the Limoges bonbonnières, or small porcelain boxes in which women would keep strong sweets eaten to disguise bad breath. Antique Limoges bonbonnières from the 19th century are quite collectible, and they made a reputation for Limoges firms. That’s probably one reason why in postwar France, just about every gift shop catering to tourists did a respectable business selling novelty Limoges miniatures. Today these dollhouse size porcelain pianos, beds, tables, and chairs make charming collectibles.


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Recent News: Limoges China

Source: Google News

Bazaar rings in 'The most wonderful time of the year'
Amity Observer, November 14th

beaded pens and cake servers, vintage Christmas decorations, crystal candle holders and compotes, Murano glass paperweights, hand knitted scarves and hats, sugar and creamer sets, music boxes and snow globes, Limoges china plates, figurines and ...Read more

Dr. Lori shares the Top Ten Thanksgiving collectibles
The Mercury, November 8th

Turkey platters of Staffordshire or Limoges china. These platters are typically of blue/white ceramic or full color featuring an image of a dressed turkey at the center. They date from the mid to late 19th Century to the present day and remain highly...Read more

Art & antiques by Dr. Lori: Thanksgiving's 'Top 10' collectibles
LancasterOnline, November 6th

have collectible and monetary value, too. Here are the top 10 Thanksgiving holiday collectibles that you can find in your mother's or grandmother's kitchen and beyond : 1. Turkey platters of Staffordshire or Limoges china. Typically blue and white...Read more

Dr. Lori: Top 10 Thanksgiving collectibles
STLtoday.com, October 28th

Here are the 10 top Thanksgiving holiday collectibles you find in your mother's or grandmother's kitchen and on her table. 1. Turkey platters of Staffordshire or Limoges china. Typically blue/white ceramic or full color, these highly collectible...Read more

Dr. John S. Kiess — a wise and good man
Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, September 5th

During a 1954 trip to Paris, he purchased a complete set of Limoges china for his wife. Upon returning home, it was discovered there was no sugar bowl. Asked why, he replied, "Oh, we don't use sugar in our coffee!" Years later, someone in the family...Read more

Chef Bob Waggoner talks about DIY construction, Guy Fieri, and the opening of ...
Charleston City Paper, September 5th

“We're going to have some great wines.” Guests will dish up their creations onto Limoges china and eat with Italian flatware. “I could never use Limoge if I was working at someone else's restaurant,” he says clearly thrilled. And that's part of the DIY...Read more

'Noah' and 'The Other Woman' out on Blu-ray and DVD
SILive.com, August 3rd

Two very different films top this week's release slate. "Noah" is a retelling of the biblical story that takes quite a few liberties with the original while "The Other Woman" is a delightful comedy that's guaranteed to make you laugh. Add in the "Grace...Read more

Helaine Fendelman & Joe Rosson: Treasures: Limoges china's value largely ...
Deseret News, November 4th

Dear D. H.: We know that many of our more mature clients and readers value the Limoges china they have inherited. Unfortunately, this kind of dinnerware is not nearly as valuable as many suppose, and in these hard economic times, these sets have become ...Read more