Large Nippon Hand Painted Pitcher with Roses

This example may be considered a fake, rather than a reproduction, as neither this mold shape nor decoration were never originally used by a Japanese producer during the Nippon era. The item is almost 12 inches tall and the base is about 6 inches across. An example which has been decorated with a different Antique Rose design can be viewed on page six of the Nippon Collector's Society gallery of non-authentic, non-Nippon items. The same decorative pattern in different shades can be seen on the mug illustrated at the bottom of page five in the same gallery. Other examples have been seen with a background color that is a pale yellow. Visit the Favorite Links section to view those gallery pages.

Although very pretty, this piece looks heavy and a bit too 'thick' for genuine Nippon porcelain. Note how bright and 'new' looking the gold decoration is on this piece, too, and how perfectly free of any visual indication it was ever regularly dusted or much handled from time of manufacture, as would have been an old item.

Keep in mind, the Nippon era ended a long, long time ago, nearly 100 years, so is it really realistic to find a genuine Nippon era piece that, like this item, exhibits absolutely no sign of wear or patina - at all? The gold on the handle to the eye may appear to be worn, but this is only an illusion created by using brush strokes to simulate patterns of wear.

Check the foot rim on any type of item stated to be antique, or nearly so. Even if treasured and carefully stored, over time the area where a piece would have moved across tables or shelves will almost always have left some evidence of that gentle friction, no matter how slight. This particular example shows signs of being hastily finished and decorated, too. Careful attention to detail was almost always the norm for Nippon porcelain, except for some of the later authentic production ware from less experienced producers. The foot rim on this item looks thick, uneven and there are obvious manufacturing flaws in the porcelain that one would not expect to find on a finely made piece of Nippon.

Some dealers and collectors are able to tell the difference between authentic Nippon pieces and newer fakes or reproductions (made from molds taken from the originals). They can do this just be the feel of the porcelain or just the the 'look' of the decoration on a piece. But, for most people, especially new dealers and collectors, it can be very difficult to know for sure. And so, they tend to rely on a maker's mark. This item bears a mark that is almost identical to the original, but it can be differentiated from the same type of mark on an authentic piece, if you know the characteristics to note.

First, look at the size of the Maple leaf beside the wording. In an authentic back stamp the leaf is smaller and in keeping with the size of the wording, rather than so much bigger it almost seems to take on more importance. This is intentional. The purpose of the over-sized leaf is to draw the eye of the observer immediately to the word 'Nippon' beneath it. The manufacturer's of these types of new pieces originally made this particular mark with a looped crossbar on the H of 'Hand Painted.' When collectors got wise to this easily enough, they changed to the mark illustrated on this example. However, this mark is not quite right, either. The crossbar of the H in an original mark is a graceful arc that travels up to nearer the top of the first down-stroke of the H. On the copy, it is a straight line that crosses at a point toward the bottom. Of course, this slight nuance can always be changed again at some point in the future, to fine-tune the fakery, so any mark you see should never be solely relied upon for authentication.

Different items will bear other spurious Nippon marks, or no marks at all. Recently many items sold as 'Nippon Style' have been entering the United States bearing only stick-on paper labels. Since some original Nippon porcelains were also never marked, if made prior to the McKinley Tariff Act of 1891, once the paper label has been removed, new unmarked items are then simply advertised as 'unmarked Nippon.'

Many 'M in Wreath,' 'Maple Leaf,' 'Rising Sun,' and 'RC' Nippon marked fakes and reproductions flooded the market for years before U.S. Customs took action on behalf of the Noritake company, those items will probably always be a source of aggravation for collectors who seek only authentic originals for their collections.

Included below are some additional points to look for on the item shown in this listing that can help to identify it as a fake. These tips can be used for making similar comparisons for many other newly made Nippon pieces, though not all.

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Compare these tips to the item and see how many of them may apply to it:

1. Gold decoration on earlier fakes was usually very bright and actually had a 'new' look to it with none of the oxidation one would expect to see on an aged, authentic piece. Conversely, many of the newest fakes and reproductions are now wearing gold decoration that has being given an artificial 'patina' by way of the factory. But, they haven't got this color just right, either (yet). It is often very dark, almost bronze in appearance. This is one of those areas where some experience pays off, but even a buyer new to Nippon porcelains can train their eye to know the difference. What is imperative for doing this most surely is being able to handle and closely examine at least a few pieces known to be authentic.

2. Look past surface decoration (which is frequently very good and pleasing to the eye) and, instead, look at the body of the ware, at the porcelain it sits on. Although those manufacturers of the new are steadily improving body quality, their ware is still not as good as much of the old. Newer pieces may feel heavy in the hand, look thick walled, clunky or almost pottery-like. This can often be easily noted by holding a piece up to a light source. Hold it up to the sun, if you have to, and check. Nippon porcelain should, for the most part, be expected to be thinly potted, translucent porcelain. Much of it was very high quality, which is one of the reasons collectors began to be drawn to it in the first place.

The light source test isn't always a fool-proof test for all pieces, as some authentic pieces are thicker walled and some newer pieces may be slightly translucent, but if the Nippon marked piece you are considering buying is thick walled, not translucent, and has a rough or grainy foot-ring, perhaps with kiln debris still sticking to it, you should definitely consider it suspect. Those are not indicative of a well-made porcelain product.

3. Take the time to find out if that 'rare' piece you are looking at only seems rare because it is the first time you've ever seen an item in that form marked Nippon, or if it is 'rare' only because the seller says so. When a particular type of item was never actually produced by a company it will generally be known as a 'fantasy' item. Nearly all wall pockets marked Nippon are either going to be a fantasy or a fake. See item #2007RP0007 also listed in the shop for another example of a fantasy Nippon item.

4. The decorative motif on fake, reproduction and fantasy Nippon is almost always going to be found repeated on other shapes and items. These motifs ably ape the decorative effects found on authentic pieces, without being the same. The best way to become familiar with the types of decorations to be encountered on new pieces is to invest some time looking at them in Nippon collector books, which can sometimes be found at local libraries, online at wholesale sources for imported reproductions, or on collector websites.

5. Look for elegant, artistic shading, especially on floral designs where many elements may be intended to compliment one another. There should be a high quality of workmanship evident, over-all, and care in application. Yes, some authentic Nippon pieces were produced that were of lesser quality and some may show decorative flaws, but even these will exhibit an artistic sense that cannot be observed on the modern pieces.

6. Is there any wear visible on the item at all? Yes, it is possible to find authentic Nippon with no visible sign of wear, but that is not the norm. The real reason a piece of porcelain intended for use after original purchase, like a tea set, dresser tray or vase, shows absolutely no sign of age or use is because, generally, it is too new. Of course, with many fakes now entering a quarter of a century old, this tip is only useful for helping to identify obviously new pieces and should not be used to suggest the opposite, i,e,, assuming that if an item appears to bear evidence of use, it must be old.

Item ID: 2007RP00010

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


Ruby Lane, Comparisons, CA   

Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

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