Of all the porcelain pieces created by the French company, Limoges plates are some of the most popular with collectors. Limoges created their white porcelain plates from the late 1700’s until around 1930, when the changing market shifted their focus away from the delicate and decorative hand-painted plates of the past to other more basic everyday items.
The History of Limoges Plates
Limoges plates, named for the town in France where the company was formed, were created in several different factories and decorated by many different artists. Limoges factories would create white porcelain plates known as blanks, which would then be exported for decoration. It is the type of decoration that makes the biggest different in the value of most Limoges plates.
High-quality, completely hand-painted Limoges plates with the signature of the artist on the piece are the most valuable pieces. The more delicate and elaborate the painting work is, the more sought after the piece will be. Painting a Limoges plate was at one point a hobby of wealthy women, who would purchase blanks from the company and paint their own plates. Not all of them were particularly skilled, so it is no unusual to find rather amateur looking Limoges plates. They were likely created by a housewife enjoying the common pastime of her day.
These Limoges plates done by amateurs may be generally less valuable than the more professional pieces, but that doesn’t mean they have no value. They may have a very powerful value to someone whose ancestor painted the plate, or if the plate was painted by a well known woman of society. Most collectors, however, stick to the highest quality hand-painted plates.
In addition to the completely hand-painted plates, there were also some that were decorated by use of a transfer. This easily transferred the decoration onto the plate, which may have been left that way or touched up with additional hand-painting. While 100% hand-painted Limoges plates are more valuable than even the best transfers, a transfer is preferable to a poorly hand-painted version by most collectors.
Collecting Limoges Plates
Those who want to start collecting Limoges plates will be happy to hear that there are few reproductions out there. This makes it easy to identify Limoges plates and fairly likely that you have a true Limoges piece on your hands. From there, you need only identify the factory mark and hopefully also the mark or signature of the artist to determine the value of the plate. Some of the common Limoges factory marks include Coiffe, Guerin-Pouyat-Elite Ltd., and Laviolette.
In America, the Haviland Company which created, decorated and sold Limoges plates was the most popular name among the well to do. During the Victorian era and right up until the Great Depression, women of means commonly chose Haviland Limoges as their wedding china, and the pieces are still quite sought after today. Haviland Limoges plates are often found in American estate sales or even tucked away in the china cabinets of those who had them handed down through family lines.
Limoges plates are a popular item among those who love all kinds of antiques as well as people who focus solely on collecting the Limoges name. The beautiful and one of kind pieces that can be found in these collections ensure they will continue to be a valuable investment for many years to come. It’s relatively easy to get into collecting Limoges plates, as they can start at rather reasonable prices. Expect rare pieces with the most incredible decoration to reach much higher values, however. It is easy to start collecting, but can become expensive over time!
The best way to know what you are seeking in a Limoges plate is to look at as many photos as you can as well as plenty of examples in person. Get to know the factory marks, the look of hand-painting versus a transfer, and what patterns are the most popular and which are rare. Knowing the product is the best way to start a good collection. You will ensure you purchase only quality pieces and wind up with a collection any antique store would be glad to acquire. Just like with the painting of Limoges plates, attention to detail is what matters when it comes to collecting them.