For the people in the porcelain regions it is fairly normal to risk a look at the back of  a plate to make sure from which brand of porcelain they have been eating from. The porcelain backstamp is of interest here because it indicates the producer.

Roman ceramics and early chinese porcelain were already provided with backstamps. The actual backstamping began with the introduction of porcelain in Europe around 1720. Until around 1820 the stamps were made by hand in blue. About 10 years later rubber stamps were introduced because the stamp technique simplified the appliance of the initial thin stamp material. Around the end of the 19th century it became customary to apply a decor name in addition to the company brand.

After England decreed in 1897 that goods imported to England and its colonies must be marked with their origin, German porcelain was marked "Made in Germany". Inevitably all porcelains with such a marking originate from production after 1887. Meanwhile products originating from Germany are marked "Germany".

The determination of brands after 1874 was made easier by legislature of the "Law of trademark protection" by the German Emperor in 1874.

The following possible marks can be distinguished on ceramics:

  • Factory marking
    original porcelain- or ceramic marking, denotes the production company
  • Trademark
    denotes  customer, distributor or dealer (merchant ?) and others
  • Mark of ownership
    e.g. royal houses, air force, hotel chains
  • Painters' marking
    for handpainted pieces (painter's signature, painter's monogram, digits) often in red or gold, for company internal use such as counting, payment
  • Designer name
  • Form- or model number
    partly with size indicator (for cast pieces)
  • Decor name
    for forms with more than one decor
  • Size number
    for forms in different sizes on the market
  • Quality marking
    for identification i.e. 2nd choice

Browse through our backstamp collection
Due to the exisiting variety of porcelain backstamps we concentrate on a collection of the best known brands of individual porcelain companies or manufactories along the Porcelain Route. It is quite possible that you own a piece of porcelain with a backstamp similar to one of ours. The backstamps are presented in black and white. In the original they can be coloured or stamped in a combination with gold.