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Markings and What They Mean

Recently I have received a number of inquiries about the markings on the bases of Limoges boxes. It occurred to me that many people do not know what the words mean so I thought I might clear this up once and for all so that all of you will know the answers to these questions.

Peint Main: means completely hand painted, no transfers or decals used.

Rehaussé: means enhanced by hand; transfers or decals are applied and "touched up" by hand usually at the edges of the motif and sometimes in other places as well, so that it becomes difficult to tell if it is hand painted or done by transfer process. The application of the transfer is also done by hand and in some cases is a very complex process. The designs you see on table wear are generally done that way because that process will withstand the use of a dishwasher and the strong detergents we use. Hand painting will not survive for long if repeatedly subjected to detergent and a dishwasher.

Decor Main: means transfers or decals only were used--but placed there by hand.
This requires some further explanation as brought to my attention by the President of Chamart. Until quite recent times Decor Main and Peint Main were used interchangeably and both meant either hand decorated or hand painted which, in essence, is the same thing. In very recent years, because a number of makers have begun using decals in conjunction with some hand painting, those makers have chosen to use Decor Main as the marking which has truly confused the issue--as I think it was meant to do. The problem is that unless you really know how to tell the difference the average person cannot discern the difference and sees the words Decor Main and thinks that they are buying something that is totally hand decorated when, in fact, this is not always the case. Confusing? You bet but isn't that the purpose.

Dèposer: means to set down or to place. Parry Vieille uses a conjugation of that verb as part of their backstamp, "Marque Dèposee" means their mark has been placed on the piece. Deposer means, as well, that the mark has been registered which would be the equivalent of a copyright, not quite but almost. It is supposed to give the maker of the piece protection against copyists. Well, if you look at enough boxes you will see that the protection is hollow indeed. So once more I will tell you to know whose box you are buying. There are lots of copiers out there but just a few originators. (One of the companies from whom we buy is, right now, suing another company for taking their original designs and selling them as their own. We were approached by the company being sued to buy these pieces from them at ridiculously low prices. The prices gave them away. I brought it to the attention of the original maker.)

There are some variations that the makers dream up every now and again but simply put, if it doesn't say Peint Main then you cannot be sure that it was hand painted in its entirety and if the piece is an antique then it probably won't have anything at all on it that you would recognize as a mark. In the early days of porcelain making some of the marks were nothing more than squiggles.

I was recently asked about Chinese Limoges. There is no such thing and I don't care what the maker says that it is. To carry the name "Limoges" the porcelain must be made in Limoges, France.

I was recently asked about American Limoges. The same thing applies. It may be that an American company will buy whiteware from France and paint it here. That is a possibility but it is still made in Limoges, France and it should not be called American Limoges. There is no such thing. Also, there are companies that purchase Limoges porcelain whiteware, blanks, and sell it to individuals to be painted by them, generally as a hobby. That used to be fairly commonplace in the days when porcelain painting was done by fashionable ladies. If that is the case they will not have proper identification markings on the base of the piece and there is no way to control that or to know, for sure, that the piece was completely hand painted. You may find pieces like that on eBay. Often individuals will auction old pieces they have, not really knowing much about the making of them or their provenance.

I hope that this helps some. It is only with information that you can learn to differentiate between good and not so good and, at the least, know what you are purchasing.

Boxes of Best Wishes in your search for Limoges.
Elayne

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Sales or questions about the Limoges Porcelain Boxes: elayne@limogesporcelainboxes.com
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