Three stunning putti supporting a bowl draped with hydrangeas make this a truly stunning porcelain centre piece. Attribution and dating of antique porcelain is a tricky business, but two rules of thumb can help a great deal – if a piece says ‘England’ on the bottom then it was made between 1891 but before 1902 when ‘Made in England’ came into use. Companies were able to use the ‘Limited’ suffix from 1861 although they may not have adopted it immediately. When watching TV Antique programmes where a rough date of manufacture is given they will often say circa 1880; this is because many factories only began to use ‘Limited’ from this date and if the piece has a Trademark then it was made after 1875.
This porcelain centre piece has a registration mark – a diamond shape with a series of numbers and letters within and around it. These were used between 1842 and 1883 denoting that the design was registered at the London Patent Office and therefore protected, although this does not mean that you can be sure the piece is English as European manufacturers also used this system. Two types of mark were used; between 1842 to 1867 a letter denoting the year of manufacture was featured in the top section of the diamond but this moved to the right-hand section for marks made from 1868 to 1883. After this date the diamond shape was discontinued and a consecutive numbering system was introduced with the prefix ‘Rd No.’
Initial exploration of the mark on the bowl shows a diamond shape so we can be sure it was registered before 1883 and as the year letter is on the right-hand side this happened after 1868. The beauty of the diamond mark over the consecutive numbering system is that the arrangement of the letters and numbers allows us to pinpoint the exact day on which the pattern was registered. The date letter on this bowl is ‘Y’ denoting 1879 and the letter ‘B’ at the bottom of the diamond gives us the month of October. The final clue is the number in the top section which is the exact date of the month and we are able to confirm that this pattern was first registered on 16 October 1879.