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Treasures: Limoges vase painted by amateur is charming, one of a kind

This porcelain vase was made in France but decorated in the United States.
This porcelain vase was made in France but decorated in the United States. TNS

Q: I inherited this vase from my in-laws. I was wondering what, if anything, you can tell me about it. It is in perfect condition, and I really love it.

D. O.

A: A large percentage of our mail is devoted to just one subject — porcelain made in the Limoges region of France. Such an outpouring of inquiries suggests there is a bumper crop of Limoges items out there and very few of them are rare or valuable.

This particularly applies to the dinnerware, especially the variety decorated with little flowers or the examples that just have a gold- or platinum-colored band around the rim. Current collectors and consumers have little or no interest in this type of dinnerware, and it does not sell well.

We are answering today’s question because the piece is charming and truly one of a kind, but that does not mean it is monetarily valuable. In addition, this vase has a problem.

Most of those who are interested in Limoges china are most enamored with the pieces that were artistically decorated in the factory. Next, they like Limoges pieces that were embellished by professional decorating companies such as Pickard, which was located in Chicago. Probably least desired are the examples painted by amateur china painters, and this is the problem.

At one time, there must have been thousands of china painters doing vases similar to the one in today’s question. The body of the ring-handled vase was made by Bernardaud & Co, which used the mark on D. O.’s piece between 1914 and about 1930. The predecessor of this company went into business about 1863, but Leon Bernardaud did not take over the facility until about 1900 (yes, there is some debate about these dates).

From 1900 to the end of the 1920s, Bernardaud & Co mainly made white wares to be decorated by American china painters, but they also made transfer printed dinnerware. D. O.’s vase, painted with daffodils or jonquils on one side and birds perched among flowering branches on the other, was painted by an American china painter named Leslie on Oct. 22, 1919.

China painting was a big hobby at this time. Clubs of both men and women got together to purchase white porcelain blanks (i.e. undecorated pieces of porcelain) and a kiln, which was used to fire the decorations the individual members applied to the blanks.

Before the outbreak of World War I, most of the porcelain blanks came from either France or Germany, but during WWI, many pottery blanks were imported from Japan. These Japanese pieces are much less frequently found and can be more valuable.

The quality of the work on the Limoges blanks varies greatly as do the prices. The work on the soon-to-be antique piece shown here is that of a talented amateur and should be valued in the $250 to $350 range if it is at least 8 to 10 inches tall.

Write to Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN 37927, or email treasures@knology.net. If you’d like your question to be considered for the column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus.