A Brief History of Import Marks and the Dating of Japanese Pottery

A Brief History of Import Marks and the Dating of Japanese Pottery

Prior to 1891 – items imported into the US did not have to be marked with their country of origin.

Most Japanese ceramics are not backstamped or marked with the name of the artist or maker in Japanese.

1891 – 1921 – From March 1891, after the McKinley Tariff Act went into effect, all goods imported into the US had to be marked in English with the country of origin.

In 1914 the Tariff Act was amended to make the words “Made in” mandatory in addition to the country of origin. This was not strictly enforced until about 1921, so some pre-1921 works can still be found without the “Made in” label.

Most Japanese items from this period are marked “Nippon” or “Hand Painted Nippon”. They will quite often have a company logo. You will find several pieces from this era simply marked with Japan, and several without any markings.

1921 – 1941 – In August 1921, the US Customs Service ruled that Nippon could no longer be used and all goods must be stamped “Made in Japan”. Some items entered the US only with a “Japan” stamp. In an effort to save labor costs, not all parts in the setting were stamped back. This means you can have an 8 seat setup that is imported as a 12 seat setup without any stamps. Before World War II, the few paper stickers that made it to the US were very fragile and stuck on with very weak glue.

1941 – 1945 – This was WWII so there were no imports from Japan. Imports from Japan did not actually begin until the summer of 1947.

1947 – 1952 – The U.S. occupation of Japan began in September 1945, but no items reached the U.S. from Japan until about August 1947. All imports from Japan until 1949 must be stamped “Occupied Japan” or ” Made in occupied Japan”.

In 1949, the US Customs Service ruled that “Occupied Japan,” “Made in Occupied Japan,” “Made in Japan,” or just “Japan” where acceptable. Most pieces were stamped in black ink. Later in this period, fragile paper stickers began to appear on more and more items. Most of them were removed or fell, so these pieces can be removed.

1952 – Present – Most of today’s imports are marked “Japan” or “Made in Japan”. This is when paper or foil labels came into existence. The two most common labels now seem to be:

1 – Small oval or rectangular paper sticker. They will most likely be done in blue or black with white lettering.

2 – Black or red foil label with gold or silver lettering.

Some imported goods are still stamped today, but not many.

Please note – many copies were imported from China in the 1980’s to early 2000’s and to a lesser extent are still being supplied. They are so well made that recognizing these fakes just by looking at the back seal is almost impossible.

#History #Import #Marks #Dating #Japanese #Pottery

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