A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Latest Majolica Reproductions

These majolica reproductions have caught my attention recently. Some have been around for a few years where others are recent to the market. In any event be aware that these are out in the stores and fairs should anyone try to represent them as antique.

As is usually the case with reproductions the quality is generally quite poor. The main exception I would make in this group is the reproduction of the Arsonal pottery stag plate, which is actually very convincing.
There's certainly nothing wrong with buying a reproduction as long as you know what you're buying.
Forewarned is forearmed.


  1. Hi Jimbo.
    I am a relatively new collector and have been trying to research all I can.

    I have two pieces similar to the fakes in the pictures. I have an Etruscan cauliflower plate that is marked. I also have the begonia leaf on bark pitcher. I bought them both at Strawser Auctions. Can you tell me a little more how to identify the fakes?

    Thanks so much,
    Christi George

    1. It sounds like your cauliflower plate is genuine because of it's mark. These cauliflower reproductions I've posted here are not marked.
      The begonia leaf on bark pitcher has been heavily reproduced, but that doesn't necessarily mean that yours is not authentic. If yours bears a circular Etruscan Majolica mark on the underside it is definitely a copy. This pattern was never made by the company. It is one of several odd mugs and pitchers that appeared a few years back with fake Etruscan marks. The pitcher is also being sold as new by an American company that marks it with a paper label. Unfortunately, unscrupulous dealers remove the label and try to pass it off as old.
      The best advise I can give a new collector is to look at as much majolica as you can find and read as much as you can. Soon you'll be able to recognize the real thing like a pro!

  2. Hi Jimbo,
    99% of 19th Century majolica was lead glaze not tin glaze as you state in 'What is Majolica'. South Kensington Museum, now the V & A, published two booklets in 1875 to promote correct usage of the terms majolica and maiolica. These two had at times been used interchangeably so no wonder there was confusion. Minton did not help by naming his early majolica 'Palissy ware'. The booklets were titled Majolica (lead glaze) and Maiolica (tin glaze).
    Hope you welcome the info, and great blogs sir.

  3. Thanks David. You're absolutely right of course. It was the lead oxide used on the Victorian majolica's first dip that gave the painters the beautiful white surface over which the colored glazes were then applied.
    It's well known that plumbism was an occupational hazard to dippers and painters in the pottery who handled majolica glaze. I addressed the issue in my book on the Etruscan Works, "The Majolica of Griffen, Smith & Company, Volume 1."
    An addition point of confusion lies in the use of tin oxide as a component in some of the colored glazes used in majolica production. This can be seen by studying the surviving formula books of David Smith, many of which include tin.
    I'll make the clarification.

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  5. Blogger James Boyle said...
    I can’t figure out how to add a photo. But here goes:
    I’ve been wondering about the age of vases with storks or herons. I’ve seen 3 identical ones within 1 1/2 months. The unglazed “rocky” base, as well as the underside being unglazed seem uncharacteristic. The markings on the base make no sense. Oddly, each of the three I’ve seen have had the same felt pads. Am I wrong to think these are fakes?