Limoges porcelain marks can vary depending on the manufacturer, but share common elements that help identify authentic pieces. Authentic factory marks are placed directly on the unfinished porcelain, under any paint or glaze. Certain factories distinguished their pieces with marks containing both words and pictures, known as pictograms, which often cannot be read without a magnifying glass. In some cases, special marks applied over the glaze identify the importer or retailer.
Factory marks on Limoges porcelain help the buyer determine authenticity, country and factory of origin, age and other relevant information. Authentic pieces with marks containing the word "France" were manufactured after 1891, when the United States passed a law requiring that country of origin be marked on all imported products. The most common marks belong to Haviland porcelain, which graced the tables in many American households from the mid-1800s to the 1930s. A comprehensive list of authentic marks from Haviland and other French porcelain makers can be found in the book "The Collector's Encyclopedia of Limoges" by Mary Gaston.
Fortunately, there are relatively few counterfeit Limoges products on the market. Thanks to the factory marks, collectors may easily identify authentic pieces. Therefore, Limoges porcelain is one of the safest antiques to collect.