One thing to know about “Limoges” is that it’s not a company. It’s a region in France centered on the city of Limoges. The region’s clay is excellent, so it has long been a source of fine porcelain. But, if you find a dot com with the name Limoges in it, you can’t be sure that everything that it sells is Limoges porcelain.
Limoges porcelain boxes are a favorite collectible. They’re based on antique snuff boxes and trinket boxes. The top lifts on a hinge and closes on a hand-made clasp. I inherited a box from my mother.
To know whether a box is genuine Limoges porcelain, you should look at the signature panel on the bottom or inside. The first line will say “Limoges France.” The second line should read “Peint main” –hand painted. So far so good.
If there is a third line, it shows the name of the actual firm that manufactured the box. I inherited from Mom a whimsical box shaped like an acorn with acorn meat inside. Like many Limoges boxes today, it is useless for containing snuff or a trinket. There’s no room inside. The requisite two lines are painted on the inside of the cover of the so-called box . Under these two lines appears the name “ROCHARD.”
Rochard is the actual manufacturer. They don’t have a website, though. A dealer with a dot com name seems to be unaffiliated with the French firm. This dealer doesn’t seem to be an exclusive distributor of Rochard’s ware either. It seems that you can also get Rochard’s ware elsewhere. However, none of these vendors show the signature panel for you to know what you’re really getting.
This is not the case with eBay. Sellers take pictures of an item from all sides. You can see the signature panel and know what you’re buying.
One of my sisters has a sewing box from the Eximious firm. It seems to be an English firm, but it’s clearly signed as a coming from Limoges. I’ve seen Charmart ware for sale on eBay, too. Artoria boxes are also on the market, however they don’t have a hand painted signature. It’s hard for me to determine whether anything about them is “peint main.” Most of what I see in the marketplace has no firm name. It makes one wonder why.
To call these collectibles boxes is mostly a fantasy. My sister’s Limoges is actually a box — small but still a box. But, my acorn is only a box because it has a hinge and clasp. Mostly, the boxes are a base for some porcelain figurine. Some figurines are tasteful like a dog or cat. Most are tacky and have nothing to do with France. Do you want the Empire State Building on top of your box? What about a golf club?
Mom had good taste. She bought boxes, not figurines. She was an inveterate collector, but not of figurines.
Lets back up. So you’re interested in Limoges china … Actually, no china comes from Limoges. Everywhere it’s clear that Limoges ware is porcelain. I don’t know what china is and how it differs from porcelain, but I’ve done enough research already.
Time for a cup of hot tea with sugar.