by Sharon Micenko
What do all the marks mean?
There's lots of information on the back of plates, if you can work out what
it means. Some of these are very obvious, others more obscure.
The BACKSTAMP identifies the maker. Steve Birks has organised a wonderful
site detailing a vast amount of history of Staffordshire pottery. It can be
found at http://www.thepotteries.org/pottery.htm In particular, the history
and pictures of many of the varied backstamps for J&G Meakin can be seen at
http://www.thepotteries.org/allpotters/725.htm if you follow the various
The WARTIME CONTROL MARK. During the second world war production was very
strictly controlled Patterned ware could be produced only for the overseas market;
solid colour 'austerity ware' was all that was allowed for the home market.
Various price bands were assigned to items in 1942 and this continued into the 1950s.
Initially the bands were A, B and C but these were later modified and after 1947 became
BY CY and CZ.
Any of these marks on your Meakin will help to narrow down the date of manufacture. The marks were no longer required after 1952 but many manufacturers continued to use the BY
mark for some time after they were legally required to do so.
The DESIGN REGISTRATION MARK. This mark is in the shape of a diamond before
1883. After 1883 a very simple numbering system is used and the mark is
simply abbreviated as REGd. No. or variations of this. On Meakin the SOL
backstamp usually has REGdSOL391413 somewhere in the pattern. Don't be
confused. The registration can apply to the body shape, the pattern design
or even in some cases the trademark itself. You can also have two numbers on
the one piece, one referring to the shape and the other the pattern. You
cannot really date pieces from the registered design but it will give you an
earliest possible date. Your pieces could have been made at any time after
that. Here's a very good article on design numbers where you can work out
IMPRESSED MARKS are stamped into the damp clay by a metal die. They usually
refer to the date of manufacture, eg 633 would be June 1933. Others will be
the manufacturer's mark used instead of a backstamp.
PAINTER'S/GILDER'S marks. These are tiny handpainted initials or symbols to
identify the worker. These sometimes are accompanied by the pattern design
number. These were mainly used in the factory to identify the particular
workers as they were paid piece-work rates. You may have plates in a dinner
set painted by several different people. Gilders' marks, of course, will be
AUSTRALIAN REGISTERED DESIGN. No, your plates were not made in Australia or
solely for the Australian market. Australia had a trade agreement with Japan
to prevent designs being copied. British manufacturers, frustrated by
blatant copying, resorted to registering their patterns in Australia to
safeguard their shapes and patterns. The best example of this will be found
on Carlton Ware pieces.