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

Los Angeles, US: Why the best city in the US for food is LA
Cadtle Hills News, April 25th

"You can deliver greatness in a paper bag or on Limoges china." Indeed, one of the most exciting things about the LA dining scene is that it seems to have tossed out the rules. It is not just high-end restaurants that get people buzzing: the city's...Read more

Antiques Roadshow for refugees in Burritt's Rapids
www.insideottawavalley.com/, April 19th

We have a 14 inch hand-painted Delft vase, a set of six Limoges china cups and saucers, a Toby Jug, silver jewelry, costume jewelry, an etching by John Benn - “Waterfall”, a vintage glass compote, other assorted collectibles and furniture. Looking...Read more

Singer sewing machine was first to zigzag
Chicago Daily Herald, April 10th

A. Limoges China Co. made your dinnerware. They were founded in Sebring, Ohio, in 1900, and produced high quality china to compete with fine porcelain made in Limoges, France. One of the French manufacturers objected to the company using the name ...Read more

Rosson: Heirloom Limoges china needs delicate handling
Knoxville News Sentinel, April 9th

I am reaching out to you after coming across a 2011 article you wrote about Wm. Guerin Limoges china. I have made numerous unsuccessful attempts in locating replacements to my great-grandmother's dinnerware set. I have attached a few pictures of the...Read more

Renting off-site storage unit to store extra 'stuff' is not a way to 'get ...
Naples Daily News, March 4th

Trust me when I say putting your grandmother's chipped, scratched and non-dishwasher safe Limoges china in storage will not increase its value, and storing your son's old mattress and oversized bookcase for the four-plus years he's in college won't...Read more

Maison de Castelnau To Bring a Slice of Paris to Bryn Mawr
DNAinfo, February 3rd

"It's the kind of place where you bring your best friend for an excellent cup of coffee and a pastry" — served on Limoges china. An equivalent comparison, she said, would be a cocktail or wine bar, as opposed to a pub. Salons — historically...Read more

What's it Worth: Eastlake armchairs, Limoges china
Richmond.com, January 31st

QUESTION: During the mid-1960s, my family lived in France. My family was picking up china services and was offered these, reportedly part of the china service ordered for the Kennedys but canceled when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I would like to ...Read more

Finest and best Limoges ware will always sell big
Arizona Daily Star, December 6th

Handpainted Limoges china from around 1870 fluctuates in popularity, but remarkable pieces have always sold well and continue to do so. It boils down to artistry and aesthetic appeal. We checked liveauctioneers.com for auction results and found more...Read more