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Our Love Affair with Limoges

I remember the first time I examined a piece of hand painted Limoges, I thought my heart would skip a beat.  It was the most exquisitely painted work of art I had ever seen.  My eyes were mesmerized.  I embraced it as if it were a precious jewel.  It seemed to emit an aroma of elegance and I could hear it calling my name.   My senses were stimulated, altogether captivated, I was in love with Limoges.

The artistic details expressed in the workmanship was a labor of love and I could clearly detect and appreciate the efforts of the artist.  I imagined that the various colors and shadings took days to complete.  My mind was infatuated, I had to know more about Limoges.

At the time, my mom was operating a marvelous antique shop in Chatham on Cape Cod.  I tagged along on one of her buying trips, it was then that I was instantaneously attracted to Limoges.  She was very well versed on the subject of porcelains and I was eager to learn all I could from her.  She shared her tips on picking out great pieces and taught me how to properly examine every piece for signs of damage and wear.  Her own standard was to buy only perfect pieces and I found that advice to be sound.  I have since applied that same practice to all my buying habits.

So what is it about Limoges that has caused a frenzy amongst porcelain collectors?  Over the past 17 years of dealing with French china,  I have asked this question to many buyers.  For the most part, I find that people are, in general, beguiled by anything that comes from France. Whether is be French perfume, imported wine, exotic French foods, furniture or Limoges porcelain, people love buying treasures from France, particularly from Paris.

But the connoisseur of French porcelain collecting has a different take on that question.  


Limoges enthusiasts know that the clays from the quarries of Limoges, France produced the finest, purest white porcelain in the world, occasionally referred to as white gold.  It's Kaolin deposits provided the white hue and flexibility for shaping, the Quartz reduced deformation during firing and Feldspar, required for glazing, gave the porcelain it's superior translucent qualities.  These materials and others, needed to make this luxurious French porcelain, were a gift from nature.  How thoughtful of our Creator to include these marvelous ingredients for our pleasure.

Limoges porcelain has received the greatest recognition throughout the decades.  By the mid 1800's there were more than 35 porcelain factories operating in the vicinity of the region of Limoges.  The Haviland factory opened it's wares to the foreign market, shipping the first exports to New York City in 1842.  Other factories were soon to follow their lead but it has been four generations of Havilands that have led the production of Limoges porcelains with their innovative designs.

During the latter half of the century, acclaimed artists from around the world migrated to Limoges to practice their artful talents.  They painted some of the most sought after pieces today.  The American's could not get enough of these delicate and fine wares.  They decorated their homes from kitchen to bath, from the dinning table to the dressing table.

It is the hand panted antique Limoges pieces that have caused the biggest uproar in recent decades.  By 1980, some collector's were hoarding every extraordinary piece they could find and by the late 1990's, hand painted Limoges porcelain was all the rage, driving prices to unprecedented levels.  Vases were desired, the bigger the better.  Wall plaques, vanity sets, chocolate pots and dinnerware pieces are all adored and cherished. 

Today, porcelain buyers and collectors are just as inquisitive as ever with the single most frequently asked question being, "Is it Limoges?"  Our love affair with Limoges continues to grow, it is a bond that is not likely to be broken.  My relationship with Limoges stems from the simple enjoyment of finding pieces for you.

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