Fakes & Forgeries: Nippon

The word “Nippon” is simply a term for “Japan.” This term was used up until about 1920 when the United States Government disallowed it. So, if you can find a piece that says Nippon, it’s probably from before the 1920s.

Of course, there’s always a catch.

There are plenty of fakes out there. And not just fakes, but newer reproductions that may be similar (or identical) to the older ones. It’s important as a buyer, seller, and/or collector to be able to spot a fake when you see one.

This list of what to look for is not an end-all professional’s guide to spotting the real deal. It’s a list of tips that should serve you well, but always be wary. (Insert clip of Mad-Eye Moody saying, “CONSTANT VIGILENCE!”) Ask for proof of authenticity, inquire about the history of that specific piece, and0 always try to buy from a reputable source.

A. Backstamps: There are plenty of fakes out there, so be sure to brush up on which ones are definitely not original Nippon backstamps. The ones that mimic the real ones will probably be blurry and/or messy looking.

B. Weight: Real Nippon is lightweight, like bone china. If it feels heavy or clunky at all, you’ve probably got a reproduction or a fake.

C. Transparency: When held up to the light, you should be able to see it shining through the piece. This is because real Nippon is made out of a thin and delicate porcelain. If it’s solid white and you can’t see the light coming through, then it’s probably fake.

D. Details: Nippon was hand painted by artists with an extremely good eye and a talented hand. There should be minimal mistakes. The glaze should be even and should cover the entire piece. No details should be sloppy or poorly painted on.

E. Gold: The newer gold will look more yellow than that bronze-gold finish of the older pieces. Don’t worry if some of the gold is worn away – this is normal for a used and vintage piece. If the gold looks fake, then it probably is. Remember, real gold leaf/gilding was used with these pieces.

Also be sure to familiarize yourself with known patterns and shapes of Nippon ware. Some fakes could look like the real-deal, but if it’s not a known pattern, it’s probably NOT a long-lost piece of Nippon. More than likely, it’s a knockoff.

This post was put together with the help of several others. The first of which is this great eBay guide. They’ve got some fantastic pictures of fake backstamps there. Next is this indispensable post from the Myriad Trading Co’s blog. They have tons of supporting pictures and more detailed information. They’ve also got a post about the real Nippon backstamps.

Have you run across any Nippon before? I’ve got a sugar and creamer that belonged to my grandmother, and I’m fairly certain it’s real. I’ll have to snap some pictures of it and show you guys sometime!


Fakes & Forgeries: How to Spot Real Wedgwood

Wedgwood is a family name, a company name, and the name used for one of their products. The company was established in the mid 1700s by Josiah Wedgwood. It had quite an extensive catalog of items, but its main staple was called jasperware. This was simply a type of stoneware characterized by its matte finish (as opposed to a glossy/shiny finish).

Jasperware has since become synonymous with the word Wedgwood, though there are subtle differences that serious collectors will be sure to point out. For the purpose of this post, however, I’m just going to refer to it as Wedgwood.

1. Neoclassical themes. These were quite popular as there was a high interest in ancient cultures during this moment in time. Designs included those borrowed from the Romans, the Greeks, and the Egyptians.

2. Colors. The most common color is a light blue, but the second most common would probably be the green. Most colors are pale and muted, but there are some darker versions. Some Wedgwood is even colored black.

3. White accents. The typical white accents are raised against the background of the piece.

4. Stamps. Wedgwood is almost always stamped. I’ve read that some of the very old pieces might not have a mark, but almost everything else does. The most common stamps read, “Wedgwood England” or “Wedgwood Made in England.” Another common one is “Wedgwood of Etruria & Barlaston.” Their icon is typically an urn.

How to spot a fake:

These are hard and fast rules to live by. If your piece has one or more of these characteristics, it’s not Wedgwood/jasperware.

1. If it’s glossy, it’s not Wedgwood. Jasperware ALWAYS has a matte finish.

2. If the white accents are not raised, it’s not Wedgwood. Some of the fakes just paint the designs on.

3. If it’s stamped “Wedgewood” (with that extra ‘e’), it’s not Wedgwood. In addition, there’s a company out there called Enoch Wedgwood of Tunstall, whose icon is a unicorn. This is not at all related to the Wedgwood company we’re talking about.

I’m sure there are always exceptions to the rules, but I don’t know of any. Wedgwood isn’t uncommon, but it is still collectible. There’s a lot of it out there, so chances are you do have the real deal.

Have you come across any real or fake Wedgwood? What’s your favorite Wedgwood piece you’ve seen? I think the smoking set pictured above is pretty neat looking!

Fakes & Forgeries: Candlewick vs. Boopie

In this newly developed series we’re going to explore items that resemble one another – it might not necessarily be for the explicit purpose of tripping up collectors and making them buy something they don’t mean to, but that is often a consequence of their similarities. One of the biggest culprits is between these two patterns: Candlewick and Boopie.

Let’s start off with Candlewick. It’s made by the Imperial Glass Company. It was produced from the mid-1930s to the mid-1980s. It’s clear with a beaded pattern along some of the edges.

Boopie, on the other hand, was made by Anchor Hocking in the 1950s. It’s also clear with a beaded pattern along some of the edges.

See how that can get confusing? It’s been tricking buyers and sellers for ages and we’ve been fooled by it more than once as well. Luckily, once you learn the differences between the patterns, it’s actually quite easy to distinguish the two.

This website is the best one I’ve found that gives a clear picture of how these two differ. Please visit it for a complete run-down. I’m just going to discuss the main point here.

The biggest difference that you need to know is in the beading. The candlewick beads are usually separated by a little bit of space, while the Boopie beads are much closer and may actually touch one another. See the pictures below for a comparison:

Notice the wide-set beads on the Candlewick…

…compared to the closely-placed beads on the Boopie.

There are some other differences, but this is the main one. If you have a more unusual piece, please refer to the website mentioned above, as it has some more specific examples to help you out.

I also find that candlewick generally looks daintier and classier, while Boopie is a bit heavier looking. After a while, you get a better feel for both kinds of glassware and distinction between the two will be much easier.

Here’s a Boopie candle holder that quite often gets mistaken as Candlewick.

And here’s another example of Candlewick.