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Spotting the Chaff from the Wheat

On browsing through online auctions, I noticed the different headings used to entice you to check out the items and maybe buy them, there were such an array of headings I thought it might be a good topic for this month’s blog.

So here are a few of the words found in the headings: –



Antique Vintage?


Now what is the difference between Reproduction and Fake?

Reproduction is the action or process of copying something.

A reproduction, in theory, is made to copy an item but not made to intentionally deceive and you will often find some of the factories such as Spode will put this information on their back stamps telling you that it’s a copy of an earlier piece and may be a limited edition of the rerun.

Fake is an item that is not genuine, it is an imitation or counterfeit, a forgery, a sham. A fake is made in a way to deceive the buyer either with a forged or facsimile of the backstamp, trying to make you believe the article is genuine.

Items that are imported mainly from the Far East are being made to try to fool you into believing the item is genuine, so not a reproduction in the true sense of the word but a fake, a forgery, a sham.

Now we also have Vintage Flow Blue in some headings, the definition of vintage from the majority of experts is an item that is over 50 years old and under 100 years old. So can a flow blue item be called vintage – the answer is No, with the exception of one pattern ( there is always an exception to the rule )and this is Vinranka from the Swedish Potter Gefle Porcelain – flow blue production it is agreed by most collectors was phased out between the first and second world wars, the cut-off date for the club tends to be around 1925 give or take a couple of years so in my calculations that means there is a 98-year gap between 2023 and 1925 –so no, apart from the Gefle Porcelain Company producing Vinranka, there is no vintage flow blue.

Our flow blue items are for the most part Antique as the majority of them were made over 100 years ago anything newer is a fake – it cannot be called a reproduction because the production of flow blue needs the added chemicals in the kiln to give the effect and they were phased out so no longer used.

There is another bone of contention and that is if items are sprayed to give the flow blue effect, these can be hard to determine but with time you learn to notice the speckling that you can often see, spraying seems to be mainly when the border is solid cobalt, and the spray is phrased out to give the effect of flowing.

Why do they fake flow blue? – well, that goes hand in hand with the price that items bring – in the heyday of flow blue, the prices were extremely high, which encouraged foreign makers to try to “cash in” which is when the imported items started to flood the market. Once prices dropped then it was not financially viable to try to fake the items although they do keep coming into the US and the UK, but they seem to just be using old designs both in shapes and patterns – sometimes they use the same shape and pattern but change the backstamp.

Some of the well-known pottery names that were faked and can still be cause for concern are Doulton, T R Rathbone, and Ridgways – you will find examples of the fake marks/backstamps in the photos provided with this blog. Common items found with these marks are Biscuit Barrels, some framed Blue Children Series plaques, Cheese Dishes, Teapots and Vases also sadly the Touraine pattern was copied and the backstamp was tampered with to try to fool the buyer.

Look out for Victoria Ware which you will often find on Backstamps with the Royal Coat of Arms – and purporting to have been made in the UK – these are foreign imports and not very good ones for the most part.

Blakeney Pottery was producing items that really looked like flow blue and these items were made in the 1960s but at least they were a UK-based pottery from Stoke and they were advertising their wares as reproductions.

They advertised Staffordshire figures, flow blue and jardinieres. In the mid-1980s they also produced ware in the art nouveau and art deco style.

The name was changed to Blakeney Pottery Ltd in May 2000.

Blakeney Pottery Ltd was dissolved on 19 November 2013.

Since 2013 the designs/patterns that were produced by them were being copied by foreign importers, with a variety of backstamps.

Please do not think I am advising you not to buy “Fake or Reproduction” items, if you like something that is great but make sure you pay a price that reflects what you are buying and remember that it will not be an investment as the market is flooded with these pieces – but use it love it. Also, remember that you can now buy the real thing for a fraction of what it used once to bring, and I do believe that although it may not reach the dizzy heights of the earlier years it will come back into fashion and be sought after again as that is the nature of antiques. In a good way “WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND” lol.

Along with the photos of fake backstamp and shapes, I have added 3 photos of the genuine backstamps, for Doulton, Ridgways and Rathbone – so you will hopefully be able to note the differences.

If you are a collector of pieces/shapes as opposed to one pattern or potter, then I would suggest you invest in a good pottery marks book.

I have given just a few examples – but hopefully, it will help sort the Chaff from the Wheat.