The delicate beauty of antique Limoges china dinnerware makes it highly sought after by antique china collectors.
Many people new to collecting antique china do not realize that the word Limoges does not refer to a specific manufacturer. Limoges actually refers to the area in France where the fine porcelain pieces were produced. At one time there were just under fifty china factories operating in Limoges.
The history of Limoges china begins in the late 1700s when kaolin was found in the soil near the city of Limoges in the region of France known as Limousin. The discovery of the kaolin meant that French manufacturers could produce the fine white porcelain similar to the fine porcelain of China.
The first pieces of Limoges dinnerware were made in the Serves porcelain factory and were marked with royal crests. Serves, the Royal porcelain factory at the time, was commissioned by the Royal Court of France to manufacture the fine porcelain dinnerware.
Limoges China Manufacturers
By the beginning of the 1800s, the porcelain industry was no longer under control of the Royal family. Private factories began producing Limoges china and their pieces were highly desired both in Europe and America.
Four Limoges Haviland Dinnerware Manufacturers
One of the most well known manufacturers of Limoges china is Haviland China. Although the company was originally founded in 1841 by David Haviland, there were actually four different Haviland companies that manufactured the beautiful translucent dinnerware.
After David's death in 1879, the company was split apart by a rivalry between his two sons and two Haviland China companies emerged:
- Haviland & Co. established by Charles Edward Haviland
- Theodore Haviland, Limoges established by Theodore Haviland
A fourth Haviland china company was established in Bavaria in 1907 by Jean Haviland, the son of Charles. His company manufactured their china under the name The Johann Haviland Company
Identifying Haviland Limoges China Patterns
It is estimated that there were between 30,000 - 60,000 different patterns of Limoges china made at the four factories. Because of the vast number of patterns, it is often difficult for collectors to identify a piece. Several helpful Limoges Haviland identification resources are:
- Haviland Online
- The Haviland Collectors International Foundation
- Using the Schleiger number which is a system of identification used by Haviland Dealers implemented by Arlene Schleiger in her books on Haviland patterns.
- Doing a search on eBay for "Haviland Schleiger" to find pieces in many of the more common patterns
Several popular patterns of Haviland Limoges dinnerware include:
- Old Apple Blossom - Schleiger number 146
- Drop Rose - Schleiger number 55
- Old Autumn Leaf - Schleiger number 60
- Harrison Rose - Schleiger number 150
- Saint Germaine - Schleiger number 133
- Chrysanthemum - Schleiger number 86
Other Manufacturers of Antique Limoges China Dinnerware
In addition to the Serves and Haviland Companies, there are many other well known, and some not so well known, Limoges china factories. These manufacturers include:
- Paroutaud Freres
- Guerin-Pouyat-Elite LTD
- T & V
- The Elite Works
- Martin Freres and Brothers
- Bernardaud and Company
- Martial Reardon
- Charles Tharaud
Price and Identification Guides for Limoges China Dinnerware
The following identification and price guides are available at Amazon:
- Collectors Encyclopedia of Limoges Porcelain by Mary Frank Gaston
- American Limoges: Identification & Value Guide by Raymond Limoges
- Antique Trader Limoges Price Guide by Debby Dubay
Limoges China Marks
On the back of most pieces of Limoges dinnerware are the following marks:
- Limoges, the capital letter L or Limoges, France
- Manufacturer's name
- Company trademark
- Artist's name
Where to Find Antique Limoges Online
Searching for antique Limoges dinnerware to complete a set or a place setting is both fun and challenging. Because of the vast number of pieces manufactured, there are many antique Limoges pieces available and finding them is part of the joy of collecting.
Many Limoges collectors enjoy searching through brick and mortar and online antique shops, scouring flea markets and browsing through online auctions hoping to find the perfect piece to add to their collection. The following are several online resources for finding antique Limoges:
Whether you have a complete set of lovely antique Limoges china dinnerware to use for special occasions or display several beautifully decorated handpainted dinner plates in a china cabinet, your beautiful Limoges pieces are sure to become treasured family heirlooms.