Alarming Increase in Fake Makers Marks on Porcelain and Chinaware - Reproductions of Chinese Antiques on the Rise

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The team at just uploaded their latest database for the Ceramics dictionary of marks service for their online antiques reference guides. After compliling and sorting through thousands of new porcelain and chinaware backstamps that were added, they were amazed to notice a sudden increase in the number of fake or reproduction marks found on porcelain vases or figurines, and now also on dinnerware. However, unlike the recent past, most of these newer reproductions trafficked at various auction houses and antiques fairs, are in the antique Chinese style.

The team at just completed an update to their makers marks databases for their online antiques reference guides and found some striking results. In particular, after sorting through thousands of new porcelain and chinaware backstamps, it appears that there is a sudden rise in the number of fake or reproduction marks found on porcelain vases or figurines, and now also on dinnerware. However, unlike the recent past, most of these newer reproductions are in the Chinese style.

“Lately, almost 2 out of every 3 questions we receive from our members are for fake marks on Chinese styled porcelain” said Elizabeth Marion, in charge of the Ceramics research group for the company. “We are stunned. This represents a three-fold increase on questions to authenticate Chinese marks from just a few months ago” she continued.

Traditionally and for the most part of the 2nd half of 20thC, markings found on European styled porcelain reproductions from Asia were realistic combinations of much older German or French porcelain marks. Recently faked marks on chinaware & dinnerware were copies or forgeries of registered trademarks that were used by now extinct 19thC British companies, especially potteries from the Staffordshire region.

However, the emphasis now is on reproductions of Chinese antiques. It seems that the recent explosion in trafficking reproductions at auction houses or antiques fairs worldwide, particularly in Western markets, represents a resurgence of Chinese Export porcelain revisiting Europe and the USA. But this time around, these are marked with forgeries or even nonsensical imitations of older Chinese marks.

As known, older antique Chinese porcelain was usually marked with a square seal imprint that includes up to six individual Kanji or similar characters denoting the dynasty period of when an item was produced. Although these marks have been initiated or copied extensively over many centuries, often deliberately and within China such as from factories & potteries in the Canton region, this was done to preserve tradition and cultural history. Many of these much older reproductions are the only surviving examples from the era they represent and are of fine quality. Besides, artisans at various kilns in ancient China were the first to invent true white porcelain and have been masters at it for over 2,000 years.

In contrast, the vast majority of recent Chinese antique copies made in the last 15 or so years is crude or mass-produced. Most are porcelain vases with simple folk designs and hurriedly applied hand-decoration in simple colors. Yet, some are very delicate and well crafted. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this accelerated flooding of the market with reproductions of Asian antiques tries to capitalize on the current trend of escalating values for true Chinese antiques at auction. This may be partly fueled by the fact that many investors or collectors [and even museums] from mainland China are “buying back” or repatriating their cultural heritage since economic conditions have improved drastically in the last decade. As some may recall, the same happened with Russian antiques, particularly reproductions of religious icons or enameled silverware during the 1990s or early 2000s.

What is important here is that a buyer should always do their research and never buy on impulse when it comes to antiques, whether porcelain or otherwise. Although theoretically it is possible that one can stumble upon a real authentic antique treasure, most seasoned antiques dealers know this to be the rarest of occasions. The key is to find accurate information by consulting reliable reference sources and ask an expert when in doubt.


Founded in 2004, Marks4Antiques was created by trained antiques professionals to help members identify and appraise antiques or collectibles online. Members can enjoy browsing through thousands of images of marks to find accurate and fast information on makers marks, hallmarks, company & artisan signatures or logos. Fake or reproduction marks are displayed side-by-side to the authentic ones for easy and quick comparison. Searchable databases also include millions of auction records to research prices or values for all categories of antiques and collectibles, with no need to send photos or descriptions. All content is constantly updated and always available 24/7 from any computer or device connected to the Internet. Members who cannot find their marks or have doubts can ask for assistance at any time and as often as they wish to receive a personal and private reply to their questions from our experts at no extra charge.


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Elizabeth Marion
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