Nippon Wall Vase or Wall Pocket

This example is a lovely, but fake, 'wall pocket vase' with a very good reproduced mark. Fake porcelain pieces marked 'Nippon' have been around for over 20 years now and they have been the source of much consternation among dealers and collectors. Especially so after the manufacturers were able to create an almost perfect copy of the green 'M in wreath' mark of the Noritake company.

Some dealers and collectors are able to tell the difference between authentic Nippon pieces and newer fakes and 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.

This fact often causes trepidation for an otherwise interested buyer. No one wants to experience the sinking feeling that occurs after discovering the item which they just purchased for $75 could have been had from a wholesale source, new, for $12.

The dimensions of this particular piece are ~ 8-1/2 inches high, by 9" inches wide, by 4-1/4 inches deep.

Included below are some 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. 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. U.S. Customs halted the importation of fakes bearing counterfeit marks that belong to the Noritake company, but since some original Nippon porcelains were also never marked, if made prior to the McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 which required imported ceramics to bear the name of the country where it was made, new unmarked items (once the paper label disappears) are simply advertised as 'unmarked Nippon.'

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

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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 porcelain 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 easily imitate 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 time reviewing them in Nippon collector books, which often can be found at local libraries, online at wholesale sources for imported reproductions, or on collector websites.

5. 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: 2007RP00012

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


Ruby Lane, Comparisons, CA   

Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

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