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How To Tell If A Limoges Box Is Authentic

How To Tell If A Limoges Box Is Authentic
By Vida Cunningham February 5, 2016 12 comments

Limoges boxes are among the most desirable and sought-after collectibles today. For those who love, appreciate and collect French Limoges Boxes, or anyone who is looking to purchase a luxury gift, authenticity and artistry of a Limoges box matter immensely.

Of course, when it comes to purchasing a Limoges box, the number one criteria is authenticity. The quality of hand-painting and value are also of great importance. Happily, you have arrived at the most reputable and the best source to purchase a Limoges box. At LimogesCollector.com, we absolutely guarantee the authenticity of every Limoges box we offer for sale. As direct importers, we work directly with the manufacturing artists and workshop to bring you the very best, the most artistic, unique and the highest quality French Limoges boxes.


Shop Limoges Boxes Now at LimogesCollector.com


Authentic Limoges Boxes from Limoges, France | LimogesCollector.com

The following tips will help you know what to look for when identifying a true authentic porcelain Limoges box vs. an imitation. Allow these tips to give you a sharper eye and the know-how in differentiating between an authentic French porcelain Limoges box and an imitation.

Tip: In order for a porcelain box to be called a “Limoges,” it must be made in the Limoges region of France. If it is not made entirely in Limoges, it is not authentic!


Look and Feel

The first indicator in evaluating the authenticity of a Limoges box is the general form and appearance of the piece. Fine French porcelain, similar to fine bone china, is semi-translucent. Holding the Limoges box up against bright light, you should be able to see the light through the porcelain, especially the white portions. A Limoges box is not coarse but quite refined, elegant and ornate. The majority of Limoges boxes have a fine, smooth glaze - although some Limoges boxes are bisque (unglazed) or have a matte finish in whole or in part.

Authentic Limoges box vs. an imitation

Quality of the porcelain, detail of painting and metalwork are great indicators of the authenticity of a Limoges box


Painting

The artistry of Limoges is mainly in how designs and colors are used to create a true work of art. French Limoges boxes are admired for their beauty and hand-painted decorative artistry. The truly talented Limoges porcelain artisans of today, as well as artists from the past century, create such works of art that parallel those displayed in French palaces and museums.

A high-quality authentic Limoges box is painted with elegant and fine brush strokes, displaying variations in colors, shades and highlights, and portrays fine detailing in design. Painting such fine detailing over surfaces and curves of a miniature porcelain Limoges box is a strong factor in authenticating a piece. Of course, lack of detail, color variation and precision is a strong indicator of an imitation Limoges.

Authentic Limoges Boxes from LimogesCollector.com

Great attention to detail and expert artistry set authentic Limoges boxes apart from an imitation.


Origin of Manufacture

In order for a Limoges box to be considered authentic, it must be crafted, hand-painted and hinged entirely in Limoges, France. Some artists are creating hand-painted porcelain boxes in Spain or other countries – even though they may look somewhat similar, they are not considered Limoges. Even boxes that are made in Paris are not considered authentic Limoges. The Limoges artisans take great pride in their craft and are very particular about maintaining and protecting the artistry of Limoges porcelain being limited to the Limoges region of France. To know more about Limoges, France, I recommend you to read our About Limoges France page.

Some artists in the US purchase white porcelain blanks to paint and finish as a hobby or even professionally. Despite having the “Limoges, France” stamp on the white porcelain, if painted and finished in the US, the piece is not considered authentic, no matter how nicely it may be painted.


Limoges boxes are only made in the Limousine region of France

Authentic Limoges boxes are made in the Limousine region in central France


Metalwork

The ornate metalwork of the Limoges box is crafted, soldered and fitted by hand. The process for making the metal band, hinge and the clasp for each Limoges box is a lengthy and complicated process. Every time the porcelain top and bottom of the Limoges box are fired, the shape of each piece will become varied. Therefore, the metalwork must be fitted individually to the top and the bottom piece of each Limoges, which is different from any other piece made in the same batch. One telling indicator between an authentic Limoges box and a counterfeit is the metalwork. Most counterfeits have a bulky and wide metalwork which also look more uniform and mass-produced. The metalwork of a genuine Limoges is quite delicate and narrow. If the shape of the box is a square or rectangular, the metal corners are hand-cut and are not exactly uniform (thus indicating being hand-crafted; not mass-produced).

A poorly-made counterfeit porcelain box

Most counterfeit Limoges-like boxes display poor quality and craftsmanship.

An exquisite and highly-detailed Limoges box from LimogesCollector.com

A high-quality authentic French Limoges box is a treasure to own and a great pleasure to behold.


Insignia and Markings

One of the most important and essential attributes of an authentic Limoges box is the insignia or backstamp. The insignia is most commonly found at the base of the Limoges. However, the piece can be signed in the interior, or if the Limoges box is an unusual shape with a very narrow opening, the markings can be found on the outer surface of the Limoges. Of course, as Limoges boxes are made by various artists and workshops – both current and in the past – they can have various styles of signatures and/or backstamps. Many Limoges boxes from the same artist or workshop can have a variety of insignia styles as each artist may hand-signs their piece. Many Limoges boxes can have both the stamp of the manufacturing artist as well as hand-signed lettering or initials. The insignia on every authentic hand-painted Limoges box must include the phrase “Peint Main” or “Peint a la main” which means the Limoges box is painted by hand. The insignia must also include “Limoges France” which designates the region of manufacture.

The insignia of an authentic Limoges box can be found at the base, inside or sometimes in the underside of the Limoges box.

Obvious signs to look out for are boxes without any markings or insignia or marks with the words “Limoges China” or a mis-spelled “Limoge” or “Limogés.” Certain counterfeit marks have long been in circulation and are provided in the image below.

Example of Some Counterfeit Limoges Marks | LimogesCollector.com


Price

Limoges boxes are considered luxury items and highly coveted collectibles and gifts. Consequently, they carry a high value. Most counterfeit or reproduction porcelain boxes are offered at very low prices, which is a good indication of their being an imitation. To find out more about the factors that contribute to the value of a Limoges box, see How To Know The Value Of A Limoges Box

Authentic Limoges boxes can vary considerably in price depending on numerous factors. The size, shape, number of color pigments and minerals used including gold or chrome, detailed painting and extra accessory pieces can greatly contribute to the price of the Limoges. To the true collector and Limoges enthusiast, the high price of a Limoges box is quite justified as they fully appreciate the quality of the porcelain, the labor-intensive process, and the skillful artistry that produces such miniature works of art.

Expertly Hand-Painted Limoges Boxes from LimogesCollector.com

The exceptional artistry of authentic French Limoges boxes is the reason behind their great allure.


Where To Buy An Authentic Limoges Box

Some may say that the ideal place to buy a Limoges box is to travel to Limoges, France. Although a few small shops in the downtown area of Limoges do offer a limited selection of the more common Limoges styles, the workshops and small factories where the most desirable Limoges boxes are produced, are not open to the public and one cannot purchase directly from them. Majority of porcelain Limoges boxes are commissioned and are directly shipped to importers, especially in the US. If you are not planning to travel to Limoges and want to have access to a great selection of authentic Limoges boxes, there are many good options available. Auction houses and boutique shops in the US offer some Limoges boxes, but they lack the expertise to authenticate their offerings. The best and most trusted source for purchasing a Limoges box is a direct importer who can offer a full guarantee of authenticity. LimogesCollector.com is one of the largest direct importers of French Limoges boxes in the US. For the past two decades, LimogesCollector.com has worked directly with the artisans in Limoges, France and has commissioned numerous unique styles of Limoges boxes, including many exclusive designs. Currently, over 2,200 styles of Limoges boxes are offered at LimogesCollector.com to satisfy every taste and budget, and to find the perfect gift for any occasion.


Final Note

With numerous reproduction Limoges-like porcelain boxes being offered in the marketplace and counterfeiters, especially from the Far East, offering low-cost imitations, it can be very difficult for collectors and gift-buyers to ensure authenticity of a Limoges box. Becoming an educated shopper will help you to know how to identify authentic Limoges porcelain. The tips provided in this article will help you avoid mistakes that are often made when one is not familiar with how to evaluate and ensure that a Limoges box is authentic and of high quality.

As a collector or gift-buyer, it is worthwhile to become familiar with facts that surround the craftsmanship and art of French Limoges boxes and to ensure the item you are purchasing is a truly authentic French porcelain Limoges box. Purchasing a Limoges box will then become a wonderful experience and the only difficulty that remains is to choose which one of these magnificent treasure boxes you will own!

Shop French Limoges Boxes NOW


Did you find this post informative? We would love to hear your comments.

Posted in: How To & Tips
Tracy February 15, 2016 at 3:13 PM
Thank you for the very informative post. With so many boxes around, and some reproductions with very good quality, it is very helpful to know how to tell between a real Limoges and a fake one.
LimogesCollector March 26, 2016 at 10:08 AM
Thanks, Tracy. As direct importers of French Limoges boxes and working with the very best artists in Limoges, we are happy to bring our customers the very best Limoges boxes that the Limoges region has to offer, and hence, eliminate the problem of authenticity as well as quality.
Joyce July 30, 2016 at 8:51 AM
With so many reproduction and counterfeit boxes offered, it is good to have clear guidelines to determine if a Limoges box is really genuine. Thank you for the information.
Mel December 15, 2016 at 2:12 PM
Hi : I liked your article. My question is: did they ever make Limoges that wasn't signed Limoges? I read where Limoges made unmarked items for their own market in France. Unmarked because the item was not for export.
Mel
LimogesCollector.com December 16, 2016 at 10:58 AM
Hi Mel, As far as we have researched the history of Limoges boxes, all Limoges boxes produced by various factories, workshops and artists in Limoges have always been signed. Some have the manufacturer's stamp, some are hand-singed and some have both.
Susan January 26, 2017 at 5:58 PM
Like other commenters, I truly appreciate this information. I've been collecting Limoges boxes since the 70s, but really didn't know that much about them, except that I loved them. I am a more educated collector now, and learning more all the time. I do like to search antique stores wherever I travel for older pieces. Where can I research the value of the older pieces I've collected?
LimogesCollector.com January 26, 2017 at 6:07 PM
Thank you, Susan, for your comment. It is not only our aim to provide the highest quality French Limoges boxes to our customers but, to also help them know more about and appreciate the artistry of Limoges. As to finding out the value of older pieces, of course, one can use the services of an appraiser. A more common method is to search on the internet for Limoges boxes of same or similar shape and form for comparable value.
Daphne February 21, 2017 at 6:51 PM
I almost purchased a box advertised as 'France Limoges', a Peter Rabbit figurine. After zooming in it said 'Linoges' on the bottom of the piece, and giving false advertisement throughout the description. There's a bunch like this on a popular website that rhymes with D-Jay...lol... thanks for the tip! Ps- isn't this illegal?
LimogesCollector.com February 21, 2017 at 7:10 PM
There are a lot of boxes offered on auction sites advertised as Limoges that may not be authentic. We have seen some boxes that have animals that are clearly made in china. That is why is it so important to purchase from trusted websites and importers who offer 100% authenticity guarantee. We receive our Limoges boxes directly from the artists in Limoges, France without a middleman. In this way, we can offer 100% guarantee of authenticity.
Andrea Kelly May 15, 2017 at 3:07 AM
Hi My mother was a porcelain painter. She traveled to Limoges, France and bought many, many blank, glazed pieces. Most have the fired decal on the overglaze reading "Limoges, France" , but some don't. These are genuine Limoges blanks bought at the factories there. Artists from all over the world paint on Limoges porcelain. However, if sold I guess you have to specify that they were painted in US? The piece is still basically a Limoges box. Also the decals for the mark can be bought at Limoges
LimogesCollector.com May 15, 2017 at 3:14 AM
Hi Andrea, Yes, some factories in Limoges do sell the white blanks to artists and individuals. And, some artists in various countries, including the US, do paint on Limoges porcelain. However, as mentioned in the blog post, in order for a French Limoges box to be considered authentic, all the stages of porcelain production, painting and hinging must be performed by French artisans in Limoges, France.
Nathan Coble May 20, 2017 at 11:38 AM
Hello. My mother recently passed away and left me a limoges teapot. I would love to know more about this and have so far come up empty. When I asked on ebay, someone told me to NOT SELL IT and that she would like to include my teapot in a book she was writing. Could someone please help me with this and tell me what I have in my possession? ANY information would be awesome. Thank you so much for your time.Wish I could include a picture so you all could see.