The word Nippon, which can be found stamped on the bottom of Asian china is literally translated as Japan. Fallowing an extended period of commercial isolationism, Japan began production of Nippon porcelain for export to the United States in 1865. When the United States enacted the McKinley Tariff act in 1921 prohibiting the import of items that were not plainly marked, stamped, branded or labeled in legible English words, the Nippon designation was no longer used.
Although Japan has been manufacturing fine porcelain wares for centuries, Nippon china was produced solely for consumption by the West. In an effort to accommodate Western consumers the Japanese government commissioned experts from the west to teach their craftsmen European techniques. The skillful artists of Japan mastered the western styles and were able to produce pieces with stunning similarities to their western counterparts.
The majority of Nippon china has been painstakingly hand-painted and intricately decorated that the Japanese considered garish. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), Nippon porcelain was often adorned with gold ornamentation. The gold embellishment used during this era proved to be fragile and has often been lost over the years.
Multiple Nippon marks were used, which represents the work of the many porcelain manufacturers working in Japan at the time. Some of these marks, particularly the M-wreath back stamp, represent the predecessor of Noritake, another famous Japanese porcelain producer.Back to Tips & Techniques