November 1, 2010

The Significance of Markings on Lenox China

(Reposted from

It is believed that the first china markings were done by Meissen Royal Manufactory in the eighteenth century. The king of Saxony, Augustus Rex (also known as Augustus the Strong), commissioned the first production of hard-paste porcelain in Europe. Meissen painted an “AR” on the pieces, in honor of the king. Shortly thereafter, the company began using the famous crossed swords mark, which is still in use today.

Markings are often located on the bottom of a piece, and usually include (depending on the age of the item) a pattern name, a product number, the year of its creation, company name, retailer, and/or brand name. To make life even more confusing for the identifier, sometimes a piece will have both the name of the factory which produced the piece, as well as another mark signifying the decorator.

There are clues to identifying the age of a piece right away, based on the emerging laws and standards of certain time periods. For example, if an English piece has the name of the pattern printed, it was created after 1810. If the word “Royal” appears, the piece was made after 1850. If you see the word (or associated abbreviations) “Limited,” the piece was created after 1861, while the words “Trade Mark” tell you the piece was created after the Act of 1862. Similarly, the letters “R N” signify a date of creation after 1883. If the words, “bone china” are included, the piece was made in the twentieth century (or later).

Lenox has made it fairly easy to identify the age of its china. The first pieces were stamped with “Ceramic Art Company” or “Lenox Belleek,” depending on the style. In 1906, the stamp was changed to a green wreath surrounding the letter “L,” with the name Lenox below it. (Nevertheless, even if the company name is missing, it is still authentic if it has the wreath logo.) In 1930, the phrase “Made in U.S.A.” was included. This stamp remained the standard backstamp until 1953, when the wreath’s color was changed to gold.

Another way of identifying Lenox china is by the date code. If there is not a pattern name, look for a series of letters and numbers either on the bottom or on the rim of a piece. The first set of numbers before the slash describes the piece’s shape. Next, you will find a letter and a number (and sometimes, a second letter), which makes up the date code. If you find a date code but no pattern name, the piece was likely created before 1950—the year when Lenox quit using the date code system. After the date code, you should see a string of letters which correspond to a piece’s pattern colors.

With this gathered information, you can look up the maker, pattern, year, and/or value of your piece on the Lenox website, in an encyclopedia of china marks, through a replacement company, or by taking the piece to an appraiser or antique shop.

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