This month, we are especially excited to share as our museum feature ten beautiful Theodore Haviland Limoges collector plates. These ten intricately decorated plates were made circa 1903, and each features a unique hand-painted bird motif. Each plate is signed by the artist that created the set, however, our curators are still working to determine who the artist is. Given the beauty of these plates, he or she must have been quite talented. In addition to the hand-painted bird designs, each porcelain plate features a beautiful border of pink flowers and is trimmed with a heavy gold border. These pieces are unique additions to our museum collection for two reasons. First, they are hand-painted and very rare. Additionally, they feature the “ Theodore Haviland, Limoges France” backstamp. An image of each motif can be viewed by clicking the following links: motif 1, motif 2, motif 3, motif 4, motif 5, motif 6, motif 7, motif 8, motif 9, and motif 10.
You may have heard or are familiar with the term "Limoges" as it is used related to dinnerware. Many of our customers call to tell us that they have "Limoges" china, but there is much confusion across the land regarding exactly what "Limoges" signifies. We thought it might be helpful to provide some clarifying information on this subject. Limoges is a city located on the Vienne River in the Limousin region of central France, about 200 miles south of Paris. Kaolin, a cream-colored clay from which superior quality porcelain can be created, was discovered in the region of Limoges in 1770. "Limoges" porcelain is typically lightweight and translucent, and is of very high quality. (As an aside, don’t confuse these French Limoges pieces with "Amercian Limoges", which was made in Ohio from soft paste and is non-translucent, white, and heavy. There is no relation between the two.)
The most famous china from Limoges is is that made by Haviland & Co. While there are many (many!) different branches of the Haviland family tree, the birth of the Limoges backstamp coincides with the founding of Haviland and Co. in France by David Haviland in the mid-19th century. David Haviland had two sons, Charles and Theodore, who assisted him in the growth of Haviland and Co. While Charles spent most of his time managing his father’s factory in France, Theodore was sent to America to market the company’s product. After the their father’s death in 1879, Charles and Theodore decided to end their joint ownership of Haviland and split into two separate companies. Charles continued to manage Haviland and Co., while Theodore opened "Theodore Haviland, Limoges".
Regarding attempting to identify Limoges pieces from different eras, which can be a bit tricky, as a general rule Haviland pieces incorporating the name "Limoges" can be dated to 1860 or later. Pieces using the marks "Limoges" and "France" together were probably made after 1891 as the McKinley Tariff law began requiring the country of origin to be stamped on each piece. In rare cases, pieces marked "Made in France" were produced after 1945. Just to add to the mix, both Haviland brothers also sent blank pieces the the United States to be decorated. These patterns in many cases will bear the "Haviland New York" mark. At Replacements, Ltd. we group both Haviland and Co. and Theodore Haviland under the Haviland manufacturer name, and then classify each brother’s company as a line. Although Haviland is by far the most popular company to use the Limoges backstamp, other companies have stamped their china using the Limoges name. These include, Tresseman and Vogt, Bawo and Dotter, Jean Pouyat, Charles Ahrenfeldt, Charles Field Haviland, and Johann Haviland. In some cases, Johann Haviland pieces include a sticker that says, “Not associated with Haviland and Co.”
Many Haviland patterns are also identified by their "Schleiger" number, though the number is nowhere on the Haviland piece. Schleiger numbers refer to a set of 6 books written by a Haviland specialist. Her name was Arlene Schleiger and she first started the books in 1950. Her son would draw the patterns from saucers on his breaks from college. She cataloged thousands of patterns and gave each one a unique number. These numbers are now referred to as “Schleiger numbers.” A Haviland decal (pattern) could come on many different blanks (porcelain shapes), however, so she also used letters after her original number to denote the same decal on a different blank. Arlene Schleiger would use letters after her original number to denote the same decal on a different blank. For example the patterns Schleiger 57A and Schleiger 57B have the same decal but a different blank. and Replacements, Ltd. has discovered many more patterns than were catalogued in the Schleiger books. If we know the Schleiger decal for a pattern and also know there was no unique recorded Schleiger number for a version of a pattern, then we name the pattern based on the Schleiger decal and add a hyphenated number. An example of this type pattern is Schleiger 57-1 (H SCH57-1). This means Schleiger had assigned her number to the decal, but we’ve cataloged another version she had not recorded. If you are interested in even more detail regarding Haviland and Co. and Theodore Haviland, Limoges, click here.