Secret Life of Antiques | Limoges Porcelain


Hand Painted Sea Life Limoges set of Six Plates

Beautiful French Limoges porcelain has always captured hearts, and has the ability to inspire. To collectors, the beauty, incredible artwork and exceptional quality of Limoges porcelain surpasses any other in the world. A collection of Limoges, edited and arranged in a contemporary style, is as beautiful as fine art in any interior. More exciting, Limoges porcelain is usable today, vases hold lush floral bouquets, place settings set a gracious table, tea cups are a most welcome indulgence when filled with steaming hot tea every afternoon.

There is an incredible range of Limoges porcelain to collect, from full dinner services to precisely painted hat pins, one of a kind hand painted objects or transfer printed. No matter what type of Limoges captures your heart, the history of Limoges is enchanting.


The term Limoges refers to the hard paste porcelain produced by factories in Limoges, France for over 200 years. The name of the city has become synonymous with the luxury porcelain products made by those factories. Hard paste porcelain is known as grand feu in French, it is porcelain that is fired at very high temperatures. Before kaolin clay was discovered in the town of Saint-Yrieix-la-Perch in 1771, the Chinese were the only ones able to produce hard paste porcelain. Kaolin clay creates a resilient, translucent porcelain, unlike any other porcelain.

The first factory was founded by brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet. The King of France, Louis XVI, purchased the factory in 1784, so it could exclusively make white porcelain to be decorated at the royal porcelain factory at 50 Sèvres, just outside of Paris. The very first pieces of Limoges dinnerware were marked with the royal crest, the royal court commissioned extensive and exquisite dishes to be made exclusively for the palaces of the King.


By the beginning of the 1800’s, several private factories began producing the porcelain. The aristocracy of France were the main buyers of Limoges, commissioning vast dining services, vases and decorative pieces.

Types of Limoges to Collect

Antique and Hand Painted.
The creme de la creme of Limoges porcelain. Produced by one of the many factories in Limoges, often decorated by that factory’s accomplished artists. It is quite common to find a piece produced by one factory, and decorated or painted by another. A mark under the glaze indicate the factory that produced the porcelain, the mark over the glaze identifies the studio that painted the piece.


Haviland Limoges

One name that is immediately connected with Limoges is Haviland and Company. David Haviland moved to France in 1842 after having owned a business in New York, his factory in Limoges created primarily dinner services exclusively for the American market. Haviland porcelain became {and still is} a status symbol especially for brides. Produced in thousands of different delicate patterns, each piece of Haviland china is considered a collector’s item.



Porcelain from Limoges was sold as blanks, or undecorated pieces. Painting the blanks was a beloved hobby amongst upper class ladies in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. By the turn of the 20th century, more than 25,000 artists, mostly women, also painted Limoges blanks in a cottage industry. Unknown, they are responsible for the hand painted pieces collectors proudly display, each is as unique as the artist who painstakingly painted it, using all her creativity and skill.


A good quality piece of Limoges is a good investment. Buy what you love, your collection of French porcelain will bring beauty to your home, joy to your heart and will be an heirloom to pass down to the next generation.


What To Look For:

1. Look for the mark. Almost all Limoges is marked. Each factory had its own production and decorating marks. There are online resources where you can learn about the different Limoges marks. A very few pieces have no mark.
2. Study the quality of the porcelain. A genuine piece of Limoges porcelain will be translucent and bright white under the glaze. The glaze should be smooth and hard. I suggest you go to a reputable antique shop and study some of their Limoges pieces. After you see a few good pieces of Limoges, you will recognize it by the exceptional quality.

3. Look closely at the beauty and skill of the painting. The really good pieces of Limoges were painted by incredibly skilled artists. Many pieces of Limoges were painted and signed (or not) by an amateur artist. To determine whether or not to add these to your collection, look at the quality of painting. A piece of slightly inferior porcelain that is extremely well painted with a beautiful subject is superior to a piece of Limoges that is superior in porcelain quality but poorly painted.

I am constantly adding antique Limoges Porcelain to FrenchGardenHouse. To find an exceptional piece to add to your collection go: Antique Porcelain.

6 Responses to Secret Life of Antiques | Limoges Porcelain

  1. I will be getting a 12 piece place setting of Limoges Haviland soon. I’ve no idea how many pieces there are – quite a few serving pieces and platters plus the dinner plates, cups & saucers, etc. The pattern is Rosalinde and it is the French Haviland. I’m curious about the blanks. I have several pieces of handpainted china that I’ve put away and wonder if they could be Limoges, also. What sort of mark would I look for if there is, indeed, a mark?
    What a timely post! Thanks so much!

  2. Lucky you, Vicky! Most of the blanks were marked on the bottom with the factory mark. Not all of them, but most. The larger Limoges factories imported thousands of blanks to the USA, as painting blanks was not just a hobby, but a huge cottage industry in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.

  3. These are gorgeous pieces, Lidy. You have such a great knowledge of all things pretty and from the past. We learn so much from you!

    Jane x

  4. Terrific article, as always, Lidy. Pinned and Facebooked it 🙂 Hope you’re having a great long week-end!

  5. Thank you Jane and Diana! I love the hand painted pieces, they are miniature pieces of art.

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