Nippon Backstamps and Known Dates of Manufacture

We get a lot of questions about Nippon backstamps and dates of manufacture. Unfortunately, we are not experts, but we always turn to a wonderful book by someone who is for our information.  Joan Van Patten has written many books on collecting antique Nippon porcelain, and she has compiled known dates for certain backstamps. We are sharing a small list here (with pictures) of the ones we have come across in our Nippon journeys.  We hope this helps those out there looking for this information quickly.

We cannot stress enough that this is NOT a complete list.  You will need to pick up one of Joan Van Patten’s books in order to get all the information you need.  If you know any dates for a backstamp not shown here, feel free to leave the information in the comments. Information about each mark is below the picture.

UPDATE 1/4/12: We’ve added more backstamps to this post!  

UPDATE 2/20/12: Even more backstamps have been added to the list!

If you are having a problem identifying a Nippon mark, feel free to use this link to contact us through eBay & we’ll be happy to help you as much as we can.  Sorry – we can’t leave our email address here – there’s just too many spam bots.  Please have a CLEAR picture of the mark & of the item so you can email it to us, we cannot go by written descriptions since there are over 350 known Nippon marks.

“M in Wreath”, M stands for Morimura Bros. (importers).  Mark used since 1911.  Found in green (shown), blue, magenta, and gold colors.  Van Patten’s #47

“Maple Leaf Nippon”, dates back to 1891.  Found in green, blue (shown) & magenta.  Van Patten’s #52.  This mark should be 1/4″ high.  Known fake Maple Leaf backstamps are 1/2″ high.

“Noritake Nippon”, used on blank pieces (undecorated) for export.  Dates from 1911.  Found in green, blue (shown), and magenta.  Note that this mark has the artist’s signature underneath.  Van Patten’s #68.

“RC Hand Painted Nippon”, combination of both red & green colors (as shown).  “RC” stands for Royal Crockery (fine china).  Mark used since 1911.  Van Patten’s #80.

“Rising Sun Nippon”, we have only encountered this in blue (as shown).  Mark in use since 1911.  Van Patten’s #84.

“Royal Kinran Crown Nippon”, made for the domestic Japanese market since 1906.  Found in blue (shown), gold and green.  Van Patten’s #89.

“Royal Nishiki Nippon”, made for the domestic Japanese market since 1906.  Found in green.  We have also seen many Royal Nishiki items marked with “Hand Painted” in blue and a numbering system in blue as well (example: #24/250).  Van Patten’s #91.

“Royal Sometuke Nippon”, made for the Japanese domestic market since 1906.  We have only seen this mark in blue.  Van Patten’s #93.

“Spoke Hand Painted Nippon”, mark in existence as early as 1911.  We have only seen this in blue.  Van Patten’s #103.  Not to be confused with the Maruki Symbol mark shown below.

“Maruki Symbol Hand Painted Nippon”, since 1912.  We have only encountered this in blue.  Note how similar it looks to the Spoke mark above.  The lines in the spoke mark above almost appear straight, whereas these have more curved parallel lines with a straight line going down the middle.  The script used in “Hand Painted” is also a bit different.  Van Patten’s #180.

“Nippon Maruki Symbol”, circa 1906.  We have only seen this in blue.  No definitive manufacturing date(s) known.  Van Patten’s #254  (Many thanks to E. for this pic!)

“Noritake M (Morimura) in Wreath Nippon”  Found in green (shown), blue & magenta.  No known manufacturing date(s).  Van Pattens #66.

“Torri Hand Painted Nippon”  Found in green, blue & burgundy (shown).  No known manufacturing date(s).  Van Patten’s #113.  (Note: the left bottom side of the Torri mark is slightly worn, it should be even with the right bottom side of the mark.)

“Pagoda Hand Painted Nippon”, no known manufacturing date(s).  We have only seen this in blue.  Van Patten’s #71.  Please note there are wear marks in the middle of “Nippon” and the Pagoda.

“Imperial Nippon”, found in blue (shown) and green.  Date(s) of manufacture not known.  Van Patten’s #38.

“Oriental China Nippon”, no known manufacturing date(s).  We have only seen this in blue.  Van Patten’s #70.

“Cherry Blossom Hand Painted Nippon”, found in blue (shown), green & magenta.  No known manufacturing date(s).  Van Pattens #4.

“Crown (Square) Hand Painted Nippon”, found in green and green with red.  No known manufacturing date(s).  Van Patten’s #10.

“Miyako Nippon”, we have only seen this in green (as shown).  No known manufacturing date(s).  Please note the manufacturing defect that is going through the mark, this is the only pic we have of this stamp, sorry.  Van Patten’s #251.

“TS Fan Nippon”, we have only seen this in green (as shown).  No known manufacturing date(s).  Van Patten’s #111.

45 thoughts on “Nippon Backstamps and Known Dates of Manufacture

  1. Recently found this article pretty helpful in identifying marks on a couple of footed Nippon bowls. Very informative, nice work.

  2. Elise says:

    Thank you for compiling this photo list of ceramic stamps, it helped me authenticate my Nippon ware. I am just curious: would you know a source for finding the approximate value of a piece? I have a small powder box painted in the pastoral scene, bearing the “Rising Sun” stamp.
    Any advice you could provide would be great, thanks.

  3. Tinna Dove says:

    Thank you for doing this. I have just come home from an estate sale where the lady allowed a “set” to be broken up (a flat serving plate and bowl with a handle) because she didnt think they were a set. The bowl had roses on the underside where the server did not, although the front patterns were the same. I took pictures of both sides before she left with her serving plate. The buyer likes to serve food to her guests on such things. I offered my unasked for opinion by saying I didnt think they were meant to actually be used for food as I believed the decorations were made with real gold and could leak onto the food. She asked me what good they were if you didnt use them for serving. It took everything I had in me to wish her a good day and walk away from the situation. As you can tell, I am still fuming. The mark on both dishes is the royal kinran nippon you have listed above.

    • Hi there! You are correct, Nippon should not be eaten on or served from due to the lead in the paint on decorated pieces and the 24kt gold paint they used on the edges. Back then they didn’t know it could kill you.

      Royal Kinran is some of the most desirable Nippon you can find. They were usually elaborately decorated, and were not exported to the US, UK, ect, so they are hard to find here. It is said that Royal Kinran made the porcelain for the Japanese Emperor, hence they “Royal” name before Kinran. Some of my favorite pieces I have seen over the years have had the Royal Kinran stamp. They are always on my “to find” list when I visit estate/garage sales. :)

  4. Rach says:

    So when my husband and I moved into our first apartment at 18 (we are 25 now)we found nippon plates in one of the way back cabinets. I didn’t think anything of it and went to heat something up on it. the plate sparked never the less we never used them again and they have been with us and never used since. I got bored and started to look them up today and found this page. the mark on the back of my plate is “Spoke Hand Painted Nippon” does that mean they are a fake? I don’t know anything about nippon.

    • Hi there! The spoke hand painted Nippon is not a common faked mark, although I am sure it *could* be faked if someone wanted to be shady. If you’d like to take a pic and send it over to me via email, I’d be happy to look at it for you. Just drop me a note via eBay & I’ll send you my email addy, I don’t want to list it here because I’ll get spammed to death. :)

      Never put Nippon in the microwave. The gold paint is what caused it to spark, as it is actual 24KT gold leaf paint, so eating off them is not a good idea, either. They’re just for decoration now that we know the paint could harm us. :) Hope this helps!

  5. jon mcburney says:

    just bought a vase with royal nippon with a dragon of sum sort between them.under that it has studio hand painted.just wondering if real or fake as never seen the dragon mark before

  6. Jeanne says:

    I was wondering if any one knows if the royal nishiki nippon mark was ever blue? I am afraid that I may have bought a fake. The words trade mark 96/68 and the numbers 59/780 are in blue also. I have looked and all I can find are green world marks. Thank you

  7. Jeanne says:

    Thank you so very much!

  8. Kristen says:

    Hi, I have two “Nippon” vases that are a matching pair. Only one is stamped “Nippon” and the symbol is different from anything I have been able to find online. The word handpainted is done in a circle with a straight bottom. Under the straight bottom the word Nippon is stamped. Inside this circle with a straight bottom is a Japanese symbol/writing. Any thoughts?

    • Hi there! If you will use the eBay messaging system to contact me, I will send you my email address & you can send me a pic of these marks. There are literally hundreds of known Nippon marks, and I’d have to see it with my own eyes to ID it for you. Sorry I can’t leave my email here, the spam bots would have a field day. Hope this helps! :)

  9. ruhtina says:

    Hi, I have a cup and saucer marked hand painted Nippon and has a crown on it. I ‘m not able to confirm this is a true Nippon mark so I’m not able to date the cup. Are you familiar with a mark like this? I do have a photo.

    • Hi there! If you have a pic, send me a message through eBay (links are on our blog) with your email address, and I’ll drop you a note so you can email me back the pic. I’ll have to see a pic to let you know if it’s authentic, as there are hundreds of known Nippon marks. :)

  10. violet says:

    This article is very helpful, I will bookmark it.

    I have a mayonnaise spoon. The mark on it looks basically identical to the “Spoke Hand Painted Nippon” mark, except that it doesn’t say hand painted. It is just the spoke, with Nippon under it, in blue. Is this authentic Nippon? Thanks!

    • Hello! Could you take a picture of it and send it to me via email? You can send me a message through eBay and we can go from there – if I leave my email addy here the spam bots will have a field day. :)

  11. calais de'bragan says:

    Hello :)
    i bought 5years ago right after i moved to the US a 15″tall vase with no stamps at all … this year i saw in an antique store a bowel with the same pattern for $485 i was a little shocked as i bought my vase for $25 … the owner told me it is nippon from before 1900′ and nippon did not always stamped there pieces ???? is this right and how can i find out more about it ? i realy like my vase if it is $ 5 or $ 50000 worth i don’t care but i would like to know it :) thank you … calais

  12. […] you have visited our Nippon back stamps post, you may have noticed all of the questions we get about authenticating Nippon.  We’ve decided to […]

  13. Katherine Schuhr says:

    This has been the most informative site I have found thus far. I have a hand painted rising sun Nippon blue mark on the back of a 6″ plate that has a “relief style” (for lack of better description) picture of a boy. I can feel the facial features, fingers, and bow tie. Haven’t seen one like it. Please advise. Thanks.

    • Hi there!

      What you have is a “blown out” Nippon plate. They are highly collectible and are worth a lot of $$ if it is well taken care of with no chips or cracks. Type in “blown out Nippon” into eBay and you can see what I’m talking about. Be wary of fakes, though. If you’d like to contact me through eBay I’d be happy to help you authenticate it if you can provide clear pictures. :)

  14. Maggie says:

    I found a four piece tea set at a thrift store. I paid 40$ for it, knowing that it could possibly be worth a lot more. I was uncertain of the marks. There are two distinct marks on the same set. I am also confused by small stickers one saying ‘Kutani’ and one says ‘Imoto.’ Help!
    Also, I have a tea cup in the “water boy” pattern, although it has a green torri mark I havent been able to date it. Any suggestions?

    • Maggie says:

      ok further investigation…its a chocolate pot with four cups, not a tea set.

    • Hi Maggie!

      Since it’s so hard to ID something by description, if you’ll check out the link in bold at the beginning of the post & contact me through eBay, I’d be happy to look at any pics you may have to help you ID your chocolate pot set.

      Van Patten does not give any particular years for Torri manufacturing dates, so we can only assume it was between 1891 to 1921. Hope this helps! :)

  15. David Leffler says:

    I have a tea set of golden Lusterware (gold inside and out) including four cups and saucers, a teapot, creamer and covered sugar bowl. I believe they are from about 1911. The back stamp on the pieces is a rising sun with an RC beneath and Nippon under that. It’s a lot like the #534. Naturally, there is no “hand painted” above the rising sun (’cause there’s no hand painting involved). The cups are incredibly thin and light and the set is magnificent but I’m having trouble nailing the manufacturer and dating it properly. If possible I’d like to send you a picture of the back stamp so that I might verify the dates that research so far has attributed to this delightfully delicate tea set. Can you assist me? Thanks!!

  16. David Leffler says:

    I did find a an exact match of the back stamp on # 241but no information was available for dating or identifying the mark, sigh… If you can help I’d be very grateful. Tanks again!

    • Hi there! I’d love to see a pic of your set, as I looked up the RS Japan mark #241 in Van Patten’s book, and it states it was found on coralene pieces (but no date(s) are given for manufacture). Are any of the decorations raised and feel sort of like melted glass beads? If you’ll scroll up and use the link to contact me through eBay, I’ll be happy to send you my email addy so you can send me some pics. :)

  17. Edwin Colon says:

    Very helpful. Thanks

  18. Ron Mayo says:

    Very helpful info thank you. My question is : I have what I belive to be a mustard pot. Saucer, bowl, lid and spoon. The spoon has the Spoken Hand mark minus ” Hand Painted ” the bowl has the full Spoken Hand Mark and the saucer has no marking but its clear they are all a matching set. Is this normal or should I have concerns?

    • Hello! It is quite normal to have some pieces unmarked even though they are obviously a set. Most of the saucers/under plates for mustard jars are unmarked, so I wouldn’t worry about it at all. Hope this helps! :)

  19. charlene says:

    your information is very informative. i have some vases and also a tea set i would like to sell how do i find out the value thank you

    • Hello! If you will contact me through eBay, I will be happy to help. I’ll send you my email address & you can send me some pictures, if I leave it here the spam bots will have a party. :(

  20. Ann says:

    This was very informative and thanks for sharing this information. I have a Nippon bowl and six small saucers. All stamped in green CHIK USA (a sort of flower) the word Nippon under the flower. They are numbered and have distint marks. They are swimming in gold painted beautiful leaves . They did pass the light test, and I would like to send you a picture to try and date and authenticate the items. They were gifted to my great, great grandmother who was a maid.

  21. Dorothy Anne Eddington says:

    Amazing!. My father died and left it to me to clear out the house. I haven’t wanted to hire someone to come in because I am SURE there are valuable things here. I got out my grandmother’s china set and was getting ready to use it for special service. There were just 3 original cups so I wanted to try to find replacements (Its a service for 12 with all the service pieces.) The stamp on the cup is the Maple Leaf 52 and the stamp on the oval covered serving bowl says Noritake with an M in the middle of a maple leaf.

    As I read the comments, I realized that I should probably NOT be using them for serving food and may have a treasure here. How do I find out more. I feel this terrible responsibility to do justice to all of the things in the house that have been collected over the years but I also want to start clearing things out.

  22. Michael T says:

    Here’s *a* link to a place to get her books:

  23. Bruce says:

    Hi! I came across and now have a beautiful 6 sided 5 inch vase, generous gold painting touch of mint green classic cream and white. It has the “Spoke Hand Painted Nippon” mark #103 1912 on. in green. I noticed you said you have only seen that mark in blue. What do you think? thanks ! Bruce

  24. […] 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. […]

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