This is a beautiful hand painted cup and saucer set by Nippon. There are gilded moriage decorations and beading on both pieces.
Style: Art Deco – Unmarked
Age: C late 19th – early 20th century
Nippon is not the name of the manufacturer as many think, but rather the country of origin. Today, Nippon items are among the most sought after collectibles on the antique market. In October of 1890, the “McKinley Tariff Act” required items entering the United States be marked with the country of origin. In September of 1891, the Nippon era began and lasted until 1921. During that time, merchandise from Japan, had to be marked Nippon, the Japanese name for Japan. After 1921, the United States required that imports carry the word Japan or made in Japan.
During the Nippon manufacturing era the Japanese government commissioned a number of foreign artisans to come to Japan to instruct them in the production and painting of porcelain in the European style. They were highly successful in their efforts at imitation, and much Nippon porcelain that was produced bears a strong resemblance to such European porcelain products as Limoges, Sevres, KPM, R.S. Prussia, Beleek, Wedgwood, Gouda, Royal Bayreuth, and the list goes on and on. The advantage to the American consumer of the day was that hand painted Nippon porcelain could be acquired at a fraction of the cost of its European counterparts.
Early unmarked Nippon is of higher quality. The artwork and decorations are superior. The gold was used quite lavishly on the pieces exported during this time. However, much of this gold was not very durable and today we find that a number of these pieces have much of the gold worn off.
Nippon has secured a reputation as fine art in the world of porcelain. This is because its superb techniques are being re-evaluated and the art deco and moriage (1) of Nippon are not just viewed as second-rate western style porcelains. They are viewed as outstanding artistic porcelain works.
(1) Moriage or “raised enamel decoration”: is a special type of raised decoration used on some Japanese pottery. It is the art of laying “beads” of porcelain on the item prior to firing in the kiln. Most typically it was decorated later in gold. Sometimes pieces of clay were shaped by hand and applied to the item; sometimes the clay was squeezed from a tube in the way we apply cake frosting.
Examples of Nippon Porcelain
The authentic cracker jar is on the left. Note that the gold on the reproduction cracker jar is darker and looks burnished.
Again, note the color difference in both the porcelain and gold.
Note that the inside rim of the authentic cracker jar lid (on the left) is shaped differently than the inside lid of the reproduction.