How To Tell If A Limoges Box Is Authentic
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.
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.
Quality of the porcelain, detail of painting and metalwork are great indicators of the authenticity of a Limoges box
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.
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.
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).
Most counterfeit Limoges-like boxes display poor quality and craftsmanship. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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