Most of the antique porcelain marks or pottery marks that the beginning collector will encounter on ancient Chinese ceramics are originating in the Ming or Qing dynasty, or are from the republic period. Few of us will ever be able to lay hands on marked porcelain of the Song or even the Yuan dynasty. They are extremely rare.
|While European porcelain manufacturers usually applied a factory mark very early on, antique porcelain marks on ceramics from China rarely show which kiln actually made an item. The manufacturer's name was virtually never mentioned before the late 19th century - there were almost no maker's marks in existence in ancient China. |
See Antique China Marks - a comparison.
Yes, there do exist antiques with so-called shop or factory marks, but they represent only a very small fraction of all the Chinese marks known. Only items specifically made to order for local clients or overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia seem to frequently show shop or manufacturer's marks.
One of the most common antique porcelain marks found on ceramics throughout the ages is the reign or period mark (Jinian Mark).
Some Chinese antiques' porcelain marks or pottery marks contain dates of the Chinese 60 year cyclic calendar, but these are actually quite rare. Cyclic calendar dates started to appear mainly on Qianjiang-style dated porcelain in the second half of the 19th century. But these are not marks proper, but rather part of the signatures of porcelain artists.
Antiques' porcelain marks more often than not show the emperor's reign title (period name). During the Kangxi reign pictorial marks were popular, symbol marks and double circles were especially frequent. These had already existed earlier, but only in a limited manner. Otherwise, the majority of antique porcelain marks consisted of of hand-written characters.
Later, in the 20th
century this mark came into use for apocryphal Qing dynasty marks on
copies and imitations of earlier porcelain. These 20th century marks are
using a slightly different writing style, however, and are generally
easily recognized as apocryphal marks.