If you can't read a potter's mark, are you stuck?

Fori is not pleasedDecember 17, 2009

I'm trying to ID a vintage pitcher and the manufacturer's mark is pretty bad. It's downright sloppy, half missing. The pitcher is nice, though.

Is there anything left to do if you can't read a mark and the item isn't common? It's got the English registration diamond (with useful parts unreadable) and (possibly) the company's name in a ring around that. But the letters I can read don't seem to fit into any manufacturer lists soooooooooo I'm stuck.

Any suggestions? Do I just impress what there is into my memory on the off chance I eventually run across a properly-imprinted version? I'm not a collector, but I do like THINGS. And y'all seem to be pretty knowledgeable and helpful. (= So direct me if you can!


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Can you take a picture of it? Is the mark impressed-if so, does a soft pencil rubbing help to reveal the unreadable parts? If you can't link to images for us to examine and try to help, you could take that picture with you to the bookseller's or library and try to find something in references. Images of the entire jug would be helpful too. We all like THINGS, and I believe that inside every antiques lover there is also a mystery lover.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 7:56PM
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Yep....what fori said..
That mark was used between 1842 and 1883....so that narrows the time frame.
Pictures please!
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 8:49PM
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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the suggestions. I tried taking a rubbing (it's an impression) but I think I'm doing it wrong. Do I need vellum or something?

This THING is my favorite Christmas decoration--I know it predates the poinsettia tradition, but it passes.

I took some pictures, although the mark isn't that clear (much like real life). Playing with photo effects didn't help. To me, the letters read:
--RENADE S*A**--
Above the diamond it's almost totally smooth inside the ring.

(And now, thanks to Google, I know there were pottery grenades in WWII!)

Great photo huh?

I will try to get a better image of the mark.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 9:02PM
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Sometimes rubbing with a piece of carbon paper, with carbon side toward the pottery/china, will highlight the letters in black making them readable. The carbon residue will wash off.

Easy to see why it's a favourite....would be mine also!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 9:18PM
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Wonderful pitcher!!!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 10:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

It's cute, isn't it? Not quite as clean looking as in the photos though.

Now, carbon paper. That's something I haven't heard of in many many years. :) Maybe I can find a substitute.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 11:50PM
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Joanne's has it called graphite paper now. Altho an office supply place might still have carbon paper. I checked my 2 Kovel Marks books & that mark isn't in either of them.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 12:15AM
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shows you how good Kovel's is!
I do think I saw the IV in the top part of the diamond...indicating earthenware! LOL!
Try doing a rubbing of the mark....place a piece of white paper over it and rub with the side of a soft pencil.
Look up gravestone rubbings...that will show you how.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: rubbings

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 9:09AM
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Fori is not pleased

Yup, the IV is the only part of the code that's readable, and I was able to figure that out without it! heehee. They must have let the new guy do the stamping that day.

I'll try rubbing with different materials and see if I can't find some modern carbon paper. But I don't know--the base is slightly concave and with the stamp not centered, it didn't have much of a chance.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 10:52AM
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I also see the ******renade,(possible serenade) but don't continue reading the letters after that because they'll be upside down, lol. The print is in two lines, around the circle one banner above the other. It looks like the last letters of the next easily visible printing are *******MO(Y?)LS or MOYES

Take a light with a very strong beam and shine it across the relief of the mark from the side at a very sharp angle to throw the indentation into sharp shadow. If you using a camera with flash, you may want to snap a shot that way. I do photographs of old gravestones for my research and this often works better than rubbing.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 11:00AM
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That's a beautiful pitcher! I'm a total novice so can't help you at all but wondered if anyone saw the same thing I did in that last photo. The lines of the pitcher handle remind me of a woman standing with one shoulder thrown back and her hand on the curve of her back over her rump! Try squinting. No, I haven't been in the eggnog yet, why do you ask?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 2:52PM
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Fori is not pleased

I think it's the eggnog.

So, I was almost convinced that bit on the right read "shape". (I admit I have a slightly better view than you all. Only slightly.) I saw some items being described by their shape, but didn't know that a manufacturer would put "Xxx Shape" on their product but look! Is this it or what?

I don't know what that web site is about...I'm not gonna pay to find out. But I'll be looking into "Boote" I guess.

Bahhh picture isn't embedding properly...

Here is a link that might be useful: this looks like it!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 3:47PM
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Fori is not pleased

So...I've IDed the potter I think--looks like this company really does imprint the name of the shape of the piece! T. & R. Boote.

I still want to read those smudges in the diamond but that's not likely to happen.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 3:53PM
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Boy, good sleuthing! So the ********erenade is actually Grenade. LOL. It's a beautiful, beautiful pitcher. And if it is Boote there's a lot written on them with time lines. Is this a small pitcher? Most of the examples of Boote pitchers were very small, like for cream or sirup.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 5:18PM
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Fori is not pleased

I definitely got lucky on this one. Or it's a lot more common than I expected. It's 8" tall, so big for cream, but small for water. I'm still going to try to get a good rubbing done, but I'm not sure there's anything left to rub. The word "shape" is pretty smeared and the letters look as believable upside down as right side up. Past that is barely an impression at all.

But I have to try it...

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 5:55PM
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Great sleuthing! And it looks very "T. R. Boote"...dense and very very white not at all grey.
Easy for me to say, now that you have found the picture!!
It's a milk pitcher. I suppose for on cereal and in coffee?
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 7:28PM
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Why I thought it wasn't shape, is I copied your photo and ran it through an imaging editing program, playing with midtones, shadows and highlights. When I finally tweeked it as much as I could, you could see a lot more writing. I can email you the edited one, and let you look at it, if you think it could help.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2009 at 8:05PM
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Fori is not pleased

I'd love to see what you came up with, Calliope! Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 2:01PM
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