When the precursor to Noritake Co., Limited was founded in 1904 in the village of Noritake outside Nagoya, Japan, the choice was not accidental. The land around Nagoya was rich with kaolin, the type of clay most favored by manufacturers of fine porcelain. Since one of the company’s goals was to produce Japan’s finest china, Noritake needed to be close to the best source materials available.

It didn't take long for the company to achieve its initial goal—by 1910 it could claim Emperor Taisho among its customers. Noritake made dinnerware for the Japanese Navy, and by 1911 its cups, saucers, plates, and bowls were sold in department stores throughout Japan.

This early success was obviously welcome, but Noritake had a second, loftier goal—to supply Western-style china and dinnerware to the West. The first breakthrough on that front was a pattern called Sedan, which was exported to the U.S. in 1914. The ware was simple, predominantly white, with a cream-colored, hand-painted, flower-dotted border.

Other lines of dinnerware were characterized by their liberal use of gold glaze. By the early 1920s, Noritake had introduced assembly-line techniques, which allowed the company to more widely distribute its dinnerware around the world.

Around the same time, Noritake produced a "fancy line," which borrowed from Art Nouveau and Belle Epoque styles. After the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, Noritake’s fancy-line products shifted to embrace Art Deco.

Steering the company in the direction of Western tastes was an Englishman named Cyril Leigh. He promoted both floral and geometric designs in the Art Deco style. He pushed his colleagues to read publications such as Vanity Fair and Vogue, and to study the work of illustrators such as Erté and Homer Conant.

In particular, Noritake designers would borrow liberally from Conant, copying details from his prints of the 1924 Broadway musical Madame Pompadour for their hand-painted plates and plaques. Other classic Noritake imagery depicted nostalgic scenes of quiet ponds or solitary farmhouses in rural settings...

As Noritake expanded its export of dinnerware and fancy pieces, it created a cherry-blossom backstamp for ceramics shipped to the United States; the backstamp, which included the words "Made In Japan," was used from 1921 through 1941. A second backstamp, previously called Komaru and now known as Maruki, featured a symbol that resembled a six-legged spider and was used on pieces shipped to the United Kingdom. A third backstamp from 1914 to 1940 had an "M" set within a wreath; these were stamped on pieces imported by Morimura of New York.

Noritake’s popularity in 1920s America coincided with the acceptance of cigarette smoking by women. The company responded to this opportunity by creating whimsical ashtrays, cigarette boxes, and humidors, many in the shape of women with bone-white skin, often holding or puffing a cigarette. Sometimes the women depicted in Noritake pieces were dressed as harlequins; other times they resembled flappers in iridescent gold dresses.

Other ashtrays with a decidedly feminine look were those with figurals of cats, dogs, and birds perched on their edges. And since cigarettes and cards were joined at the hip during this period, many Noritake tobacco pieces were decorated with hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, each of which would have a stylish woman’s face at its center.

Two of the most collectible types of Noritake from the 1920s are the so-called Gemini and Sisters bowls. The Sisters consisted of figurals of identical twins on either side of a bowl, whose interior was often decorated with flowers or butterflies. The Geminis were similar, except the figurals faced away from each other and their arms were bent back to create a handle for the bowl. Other bowls had one to four handles in shapes that ranged from wicker baskets to serving platters—windmills at sunset, birds in flight, and fountains in courtyards were typical of the company’s imagery.

For the dining table, Noritake produced honey pots in the shapes of gaily colored beehives, complete with gold-glazed bee figurals buzzing about their outside surfaces. Sugar-and-creamer sets were quite common, as were salt-and-pepper shakers, many of which were shaped like women’s heads or painted in styles that suggested Pennsylvania Dutch influences.

In the bedroom, Noritake fans could purchase "dresser dolls," which resembled the female-shaped cigarette containers but were designed for powder puffs. Hatpin holders, perfume bottles, and trinket trays in rich, lustrous glazes were also produced. The "lemon plates," which sport a single black or golden loop handle, are great for beginning Noritake collectors because they are so plentiful, with the exception of plates decorated with a woman fanning herself. The lemon plates were designed to hold lemons for afternoon tea, so naturally tea services were also manufactured.

Finally, Noritake produced a wide range of vases and containers for plants—from low, square or round vessels for ferns to ornate and even garish flower frogs. Some vases resembled tree trunks, albeit ones with iridescent bronze surfaces; others used traditional Greek shapes as canvases for floral motifs, birds, and the ever-present farmhouses and windmills. Particularly arresting are the vases whose mouths have been bent back so they resemble a pitcher plant, as well as the various styles of fans vases and sconces, which are known as wall pockets among collectors of vintage and antique Noritake.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

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]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Noritake Art Deco Lady Luster Plate - No ReserveAntique Japanese C1908 Noritake Hand Painted English Exportware Coffee SetA Beautiful Vintage Noritake Japanese Porcelain Lakeland Landscape VaseRare Vintage Noritake Powder Jar Green Mark Lid With Hairline 6" Tall Cute.Stunning Pair Of Antique Noritake / Nipponware Porcelain Vases. #1. C1900.Vintage Noritake Art Deco Ducks Figural Bowl NiceStunning Pair Of Antique Noritake / Nipponware Porcelain Vases. C1900.Antique Noritake Nippon Gold Moriage Jeweled Enamel Covered Biscuit Tobacco JarFine Vintage Japan China 4 Piece Tea For One Set Teapot - "moss Rose" Pink GoldNoritake China Set (somerset) Floral Print With Gold TrimNoritake Tea Pot, Amazing H P Floral, Jewled Perfect C1902 Maruki Mark To BaseNoritake Lusterware Lady In Bonnet Powder Box Jar Dish Green M MarkVintage Noritake Nippon Toki Kaisha Bone China Angel Fish Figurine MintNoritake Azalea Set Of 4 Egg Cups Holders - Very Fine - 19322- Red Stamp3 Vintage Noritake Porcelain Handpainted Lidded BowlsNoritake Snowville Set Of 4 White Snack Plates & Cups + Teapot And Sugar BowlSet Of 4 Noritake Azalea Square Luncheon Plates Red Mark 19322 Very Fine 7 3/4Lovely Vintage Noritake Wall Pocket Vase - M In Wreath Red Mark -japanMorimura Vintage Noritake Powder Box Porcelian Luster JarSet Of 2 Vintage Noritake Azalea Grill Plates - Red Mark 19322Noritake Azalea #19322 Oil Or Vinegar Cruet & Original Stopper Red Mark9 Noritake Bone China Barrymore Soup/saladSet Of 2 Noritake Azalea Pattern Flat Cream Soup Bowls No. 19322 -252622 RedSuperb Noritake Salt And Pepper Set Virtue PatternNoritake China Collection "shenandoah." 8 Place Settings, Coffee Pot, Etc.9 Noritake Bone China Barrymore Dinner Plates3 Vintage Noritake Hand Painted Azalea Pattern Small Ladle Serving Spoons FineVintage Noritake Azalea Red Mark 19322 Sugar Shaker Very FineArt Deco Porcelain 1920s 1930s Green Gold Rare Pattern Noritake Pair SaucersVintage Noritake Azalea Footed Grapefruit Bowl - Red Mark 19322Set Of 4 Noritake Azalea 10" Dinner Plates Red Mark 19322 - 252622 Very FineAntique Large Blue Lustre Rose Noritake Punch Bowl Compote Footed PedestalEpoch Collection By Noritake Le Restaurant China 8 Piece Set30s Noritake Covered Dish Art Deco W/handles Apple Finial Vibrant Lustreware EucEight Vintage Noritake - Azalea Red Mark 19322 -7 5/8-inch Salad Or Pastry PlateBeautiful Noritake Gravy Boat W/underplate Virtue PatternMint Noritake Rothschild Salt And Pepper Shakers Misty Isle Collection, 39 Piece China Dinner Set 9159Original Early 20thc Art Nouveau Noritake Garniture Of Three Hand Painted VasesFine Vintage Japan China 6 Cup Teapot - Peach Or Orange And Blue OpalescenceRoyal Albert Bone China Tea Cup And SaucerOld Noritake Azalea Flowers Condiment Set Mustard Jar Salt&pepper Shakers &trayVintage Hand Painted Nippon Condiment Ladle Azalea Noritake Old Rare Noritake Running Free Dinner 14" Oval Platter Pirmastone Fjord 8951 Euc Limerick Noritake China White Wreath Ribbon Tiffany 5 Pcs Place Setting PerfectFine Vintage Japan China Salad Plate - Sango China - "moss Rose" - Pink GoldNoritake Azalea Sugar And Creamer Red MarkNoritake Wall Pocket6 Place Sating China Dinerware Off White With Gold Trim8 Vintage Noritake, Pasadena, Berry Bowls #6311, Very Good ConditionNoritake Savannah 4 Lugged Cereal Bowls 2031 Platinum TrimNoritake Azalea Oval Vegetable Serving Bowl Handles Red Backstamp 10 1/2" 19322Noritake Progression China Tea Set - Mardi Gras Pattern1 Setting Noritake China Ireland Morning Jewel #2767 5 Piece Place SettingsNoritake Versatone Glimmer 5 Coupe Cereal Bowls 6-1/2" Blue Red Floral Japan(4) Noritake Dinner Plates Virtue PatternNoritake Azalea Salt And Pepper Shakers And One Cup And Saucer Red MarkVintage Noritake Azalea Teapot 19322 Green Mark Japan Noritake Azalea 9 3/4" Round Open Handled Cake Serving Plate - 19322 Very FineNoritake Prelude China -12 (5 Piece Place Settings) + Serving Bowls - 69 Pieces

Recent News: Noritake China

Source: Google News

Antique entrepreneurs: Mother-daughter duo offer myriad items
Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 29th

There are a myriad of items — issues of Life magazine, old Japanese dolls, jewelry, Noritake china, antique furniture, Hummel figurines and Fenton Art Glass. “We're a pretty well-kept secret because we're not like your other antique malls,” Renee...Read more

Police Investigations: Riverbank Court Woman, 93, Reports Home Burglary
New Canaanite, January 21st

Police are investigating a 93-year-old Riverbank Court woman's report that someone stole a box of Noritake-brand China pieces from her home. The burglars forced their way into the home through a window and ransacked it, according to a police report...Read more

What tablecloth and place mats for white china?
Philly.com, January 16th

Q: For Christmas I received some Noritake platinum-edged white dinnerware. What color place mats or tablecloth would be best to use with this china? Note: My family gets tired of the same thing every holiday. - S.L.. A: The beauty of classic dinnerware...Read more

PV EXPO 2015 & PV SYSTEM EXPO 2015 reflect ongoing solar business boom ...
AltEnergyMag (press release), January 15th

Major manufacturing technology related exhibits will be showcased by NORITAKE, NPC, ASAHI DIAMOND INDUSTRIAL etc. ... Nobuhiro Watanabe, Director, Renewable Energy Promotion Office, Agency of Natural Resources and Energy of MINISTRY OF ECONOMY, TRADE...Read more

Merchant Marine pen pal had long correspondence with Morris woman
Morris Daily Herald, January 14th

Among them were little Venetian glass animals, a hand-stitched linen tablecloth from Spain, an eight-piece Noritake china set, an ebony coffee table from Vietnam and a liter bottle of Chanel Number 5 perfume. Walker would respond to Thawley's letters...Read more

Chess set, family portraits, Noritake vase and carved wall shelves: Attic Finds
The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com (blog), October 3rd

Question: I've had this chess set since my father passed away in 1996. It was made by ALCOA apparently in the early 1970s. The playing pieces are cast aluminum and all are characters from "Alice in Wonderland." The book in the center is a manual...Read more

Noritake Launches the Culinary White Collection on NoritakeChina.com
PR Web (press release), September 18th

It is only natural that the same high quality dinnerware would translate into stunning whiteware that sets the stage for the culinary creations of the home and professional chef,” says Peter Goldberger, Executive Vice President. Coty White is...Read more

Premium highballs; Noritake dinnerware fair; Hennessy pop-up bar
The Japan Times, September 16th

Two special blends of highball are now available for a limited period at the Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome in Tokyo. Customers who visit The Bar on the 24th floor of the hotel can enjoy the night view from the bar lounge while drinking a “Masataka and...Read more