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Because of this ruling, wholesalers, for the time being, have stopped marking their fake Nippon with the Noritake Company back stamps including the Maple Leaf, Rising Sun, and RC marks. Fake Nippon is now being sold 'unsigned' ; that is, with no back stamp. The items come into the United States with a paper label identifying the country it was made in. Of course, the paper label is easily removed leaving the item 'unsigned. In addition to changes in the back stamps, the actual mold style and decoration of the fake Nippon has been improving.
In fact some of the newer fakes are being copied from original patterns used during the Nippon era, making them reproductions not fakes. The quality of these reproductions, while much improved over past fakes, is still not quite right and the feel of the porcelain is wrong.
However, the overall quality of these reproductions is getting better all of the time and it's imperative for collectors to be aware of this. Site of Nippon Collector's club ; http: Noritake - Noritake is still famed for their 'Art Deco' pieces made between the s and s. They were consistenly of better quality and most beautifully decorated, and today they are very avidly collected and are priced accordingly!
Most early pieces marked Nippon in western or in Japanese Kanji characters seems to have been manufactured by or sold through the company that later would become Noritake Company. In many instances Nippon and Noritake are one and the same and both markings can be found on pieces. The forerunner of Noritake was first established in From around the 's until the Nippon Toki Kaisha Ltd had according to the McKinley Tariff Act of marked their export porcelain with their country of origin as in "Nippon" but in western characters, which is kind of fun in an upstanding Edo period Samurai way.
For Nippon collectors the bad news is that this mark only signifies the country of origin and implies no other information. So, even if early Morimura imports were likely to have been marked this way, so would other imports from Japan too.
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Still the word Nippon was infrequently used even after I n Baron Ichizaemon Morimura IV formed a trading company called Morimura Kumi Morimura Brothers with offices in Tokyo, and a retail and wholesale office in New York for the export of traditional Japanese products such as chinaware, curios, paper lanterns and other gift items. Ichizaemon Morimura VI was a visionary and a supporter of a modernization of Japan. One thing he clearly saw was the business potential if the quality of Japanese art and skilled craft could be adapted to the needs and taste of the American consumer.
Morimura brothers was still a many faceted importing company of which the porcelain were just one part. Beside running a china decorating facility of their own during to , the Morimura brothers also bought and distributed porcelain blanks to be decorated by independent porcelain decorators in nearby regions. The quality of the Early Noritake wares varied with the skill of the individual decorators.
The early marks from this period seems to have been the country of origin i. The word "Nippon " also meaning Japan but in western characters. A visit by Ichizaemon Morimura IV to the World Fair in Paris in this period helped shape the idea of trying to manufacture a high quality, modern, western style dinnerware for export, in Japan. The factory was located near a source of good and plentiful raw materials and in a community rich with skilled potters. The site was the small village of Noritake near Nagoya, the center of Japan's ceramic production, on the main island of Hons hu.
The first Japanese registry for a Noritake back stamp is reported as for use in Japan. In the first china products from the new company would leave Japan for the U. The first reported U.
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Not until after a long series of trials and errors the first fine porcelain dinnerware suitable for export was produced. One of the first patterns to be produces was the " Sedan". A piece of the dinnerware in the Noritake factory in Nagoya shows this to be a bleak white plate with a cream border of small flower sprays and the typical Noritake back stamp, the letter "M" in a wreath and the words "Hand painted. To identify the early Noritake porcelain, it is important to remember their intended adaptation to the western taste.
The "M in a wreath" mark was used between c until With the First World War came the understanding of the need for industrialization. The company soon undertook the production of necessary machinery for the use in its potteries and could by the early 's introduce assembly line techniques allowing for mass production of high quality, yet affordable, dinnerware. Starting in the 's, Noritake expanded its market and opened a number of divisions throughout the Japan. Noritake also introduced something called the roller hearth kiln, a revolutionary mass manufacturing furnace which sped up production.
At the height of Noritake's golden era, which ran from around to , the company employed over artists in the painting shops alone. Unfortunately, during WW2, the factory was virtually destroyed, many of the key staff lost their lives in the War and virtually all of the early records were lost. F rom the event of the back stamps giving up the "Nippon" mark and beginning with being marked " Japan" or "Made in Japan.
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From the up market art deco designs of the late s the designs of the s took a markedly more pragmatic shape after the world-wide depression. Much of the "lustreware" where a thin metallic film was applied over a bright single-color glaze, often with art deco theme decals in combination with hand painting, dates to this period. From its early understanding of western taste and mass production, Noritake also early understood the western methods of mass marketing. Some patterns appear to have been specially designed for the Larking Company such as the "Azalea".
Azalea was then sold as premiums to the Larkin club members and their home agents. Typical marks from the period c. In the export offices were closed and direct export to the US was not resumed before Noritake wares from circa to may bear a number of marks including "Made in Occupied Japan" and "Occupied Japan. Early Noritake china dinnerware featured the "Hand Painted Nippon" design around the familiar wreath-circled "M" for "Morimura" on the back stamp of most pieces.
In the letter "N" for "Noritake" in a wreath replaced the long used "M" in a wreath. According to collectors, the number of known different Noritake marks are today more then Marks with the initials RC have a special place in the Noritake production. The first time we find them in the first marks registered in Japan in the , where RC Royal Crockery is combined with a "Yajirobe" or a mechanical balance toy. According to Noritake symbolizing the universal problem of finding a balance in business, such as between quality and price.
It is not clear how long this symbol was used but already in the first marks with the famous laurel wreath were registered. In also a series of circular marks with the RC drawn in an Art Noveu style were registered in Japan. In a back stamp with RC Royal Crockery with a right turned laurel twig registered in India for India and Southeast Asian market was used for the first time.
Immediately after the second WW, in , the Noritake was temporary dropped from the marks and RC was reappearing as "Rose China" together with a picture of a rose and the words Made in Japan. Since the quality immediately after the war was not up to the pre-war standard, Noritake preferred to save the valuable Noritake brand name until later, still in we find the Noritake name used together with the Komaru overcoming difficulties symbol, sometimes over the telltale line "Made in Occupied Japan". For today's collector, the ambiguities that surround Noritake and Morimura brothers can be overwhelming.
The loss of extensive company records during World War II also makes some questions forever unanswerable. Beside the rare chance finds of new sources, stylistic comparison and a careful adding of one piece of information to another, is all that we will ever have on this. An extensive search has not produced any details about the Marutomo at this stage. A lot of Marutomoware is advertised as The Japanese were required to mark their exports Made in Japan , a practice which continued until the beginning of World War II, from until During the following years of American occupation of Japan to , all exports from Japan were marked Made in Occupied Japan.
After the Occupation, Japan marked her exports simply Japan. ESD did sell some Lefton items - but not all. And not all ESD sold was sold by Lefton. Giftcraft is another example of a distributor that sold the same things in Canada as Lefton sold in the US. The owner was a friend of Mr. Lefton and was allowed at one time to "piggyback" on Lefton orders so that Lefton could order larger quantities and both companies would get better pricing from the Japanese manufacturer.
George Zoltan Lefton Company. The Lefton mark can be found on a wide array of pottery, porcelain , and glass imported into the United States by the George Zoltan Lefton Company. The company was founded by this new immigrant from Hungary after he arrived in Chicago, Illinois in and established the company in George Lefton had previously worked in the clothing and sportwear industry, but he was a collector of fine porcelain and dreamed of entering that business.
America offered the backdrop for even a new immigrant into the country to have a chance at commercal success. George Zoltan Lefton had always admired the quality and workmanship in finer Japanese and oriental porcelain, and after the end of World War II he pursued business relationships in post-war Occupied Japan to export Japanese porcelain to America through his company. George was one of the first American businessmen to enter post-war Japan. Early Lefton china was imported into the U.
While not comparable to the best wares of European or Chinese porcelain manufacturers, Japanese porcelain was still of good quality and was produced at a cost that made it affordable for the average American family in the post-war years. The export of china and ceramics was a key contributor to the emergence of Japan from the destitution of the war years and the reinvigoration of their economy. Some of the items manufactured during that period are quite rare today.
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Lefton held his quality specifications high , therefore his items will be in high demand for a long time to come. His reputation earned him the name "China King". Some online retailers are now offering Lefton china catalogs scanned into an electronic document. This is worth the investment because it gives you easy access to all the pieces made by the company. You can check for pieces you own and determine when the piece was made.
Lefton china is still made today and under the same name. Keep in mind that a piece may be modern and the only way to tell the age is to identify the mark on the bottom. Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Tip Some online retailers are now offering Lefton china catalogs scanned into an electronic document. Although Lefton made his living in Hungary in sportswear, his passion for fine porcelain turned from a hobby into a business when he founded the Lefton Company in in Chicago.
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When Pearl Harbor was bombed in , many Japanese-owned businesses in Chicago were looted. Lefton helped board up a business owned by Nunome, a Japanese-American friend.
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After the war, Nunome assisted Lefton in developing essential relationships with china producers in Occupied Japan. Japan was occupied by the Allied forces with its unconditional surrender in August of The Allies' plan was to help Japan rebuild and grow, but not to allow Japan to have the manufacturing capabilities to rearm itself. Pottery and porcelain manufacturing fit into the areas of acceptability as set by General Douglas McArthur and the Allies.