Noritake china set

Q: Hey Michelle! Mom has a Noritake tea set that was bought in Japan in the mid to late 1950s. It is in perfect condition as it has been kept in a curio cabinet all these years. If I send you photos of it, can you give me an estimate of its worth? Let me know! Thanks!

A: In 1876 Baron Ichizaemon Morimura IV formed a trading company called Morimura Kumi (Morimura Brothers) with offices in Tokyo and retail and wholesale venues in New York for the export of traditional Japanese products such as china, curios and other gift items. Morimura was a supporte20160131_130832r of the modernization of Japan.

Besides running a china decorating facility of their own from 1878 to 1884, Morimura Kumi also purchased and distributed porcelain blanks to nearby areas to be decorated by independent porcelain painters. The quality of early Noritake wares varied dependent upon the skills of the individual decorators.

In 1900, Morimura IV went to the World’s Fair in Paris (The Exposition Universelle) and came upon the idea of trying to manufacture a high quality, modern, western style dinnerware for export. In Jan. 1, 1904 they formed Nippon Toki Kaisha Ltd, the forerunner to the present Noritake Company. The company was founded in the small village of Noritake, a town rich with the raw materials to create beautiful porcelain and filled with talented painters to decorate the wares. In 1908, the first Japanese registry for a Noritake back stamp is recorded for use in Japan.

From around 1890 until 1921 the Nippon Toki Kaisha Ltd. marked their export porcelain with their country of origin as “Nippon” to comply with the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, which stated that all imported items had to be marked with the country of origin. In 1921 American import law changed and required the place of origin be marked in English. Therefore, back stamps were changed to “Japan” or “Made in Japan”.

In 1910 the first china producthandpainted nippon marks from this new company were ready for export to the U.S. In 1911 the first U.S. registry for a Noritake back stamp was recorded for export purposes. The early Noritake back stamp of the letter “M” in a wreath and the words “Hand Painted” was used from around 1914 to 1940. As a general rule, the earliest dinnerware plates were decorated with a lot of gold because it was thought that this would have great appeal to the U.S. consumer.

Noritake quickly learned American mass marketing techniques. From the late 1920s throughout the 1930s and until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, which put a stop to normal business, “Hand Painted Imported Noritake China” was offered as a premium by the Larkin Company of Buffalo, N.Y., to its millions of customers purchasing soap, beauty and home products by mail. Some patterns appear to have been designed exclusively for the Larkin Co. such as “Azalea”. Typical marks from c. 1925 to 1940 include the green Noritake mark #190.

Early Noritake china dinnerware featured the “Hand Painted Nippon” text around a wreath-circled “M” for “Morimura” as the back stamp of most pieces.

“Noritake” appears on back stamps of other pieces, with either “Japan” or “Made in Japan”. After WWII from 1945 to 1948 Noritake China was sold under the label “Rose China”. In 1953 the letter “N” for “Noritake” in a wreath replaced the long used letter “M” in a wreath. From 1945 until early 1952, occupation of Japan by the Allied Occupation Forces had been in place and many back stamps for this period say “Made in Occupied Japan”. Today the number of known different Noritake marks total more than 400.

Noritake-made wares marked with “RC” have a special place in Noritake production history. The mark was first registered in Japan in 1908. In 1911 the first marks with the famous laurel wreath was registered. In 1911 a series of circular marks with the RC drawn in an Art Nouveau style were registered in Japan.

In 1946, the word Noritake was temporary dropped from the back stamps and RC reappeared as “Rose China” along with a picture of a rose and the words “Made in Japan.” The post-war quality was not up to the pre-war quality standards so Noritake decided to remove their valuable brand name from production wares.

The bottom line is that your lovely tea set made at the Toki Kaisha factory dates to no earlier than 1953 when the wreathed M was replaced with the letter N. With over 400 known back stamps the variety of patterns is well in to the thousands and I was unable to find your exact pattern name in any of my books or resources. However, the current resale value for the set, which is based on a traditional Japanese tea set, is $125-$150.

 ** All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about ½ or less of resale value.

Please send your questions to Questions with photographs will be considered for publication. There is no guarantee that your question will be answered or published.

 If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to Michelle Knows Antiques for a one on one appraisal.

Written by Michelle Staley

Michelle Staley has over 35 years of experience as an antique collector, picker and dealer. She has done hundreds of insurance and IRS appraisals in addition to just satisfying another collector or dealer’s curiosity concerning what an item is, does or its worth. Other experience includes her work as a forensics consultant and in archeological identification and dating.

See all posts by

  1. Hi Michelle
    How do I find the value of my moms China. It is Nortake with a big M IN the middle and it says hand painted Japan. I have a complete set.
    Thank u so much for ur help.

    • Michelle Staley

      Thank you for visiting my appraisal page.

      Please go to the Submit Appraisal page to get the information to me. I would need to see photos of the pattern, number of pieces (dinner plates, etc) and a photo of the mark.

      Thank you, Michelle

    • Michelle Staley

      Thank you for visiting my appraisal page.

      Please go to the Submit Appraisal page to get the information to me. I would need to see photos of the pattern, number of pieces (dinner plates, etc) and a picture of the mark.

      Thank you, Michelle

  2. I have my mother’s Noritake dinnerware set. There is an N with blue wreath with bow on the back and the word Sheridan plus the number 5441. Is it worth keeping or selling?

  3. Hi. I have a Noritaki complete set of 5556 for twelve with berry bowls purchased by my parents from the PX while stationed in Japan between 1955 to 1957. The set has never been used and is in the original packing undisturbed except for recent inspection by me. How much is this set worth and do you have any suggestions of how and/or where to sell it. Thank you.

  4. I just bought RC plates from the thrift shop. It isn’t the RC in a circular wreath but more of a rectangular shape. Also the words nippon toki kaisha. The plates are just gold rimmed with another circle of gold inside the plate. Am I correct in guessing these are Noritake plates for domestic sale?

  5. Hi Michelle!!
    I find all of this very interesting as I have a polar bear and a rooster – both bearing the imprint “Bone China” with a wreath and below it says NIPPON TokiKaisha. The bear is in mint condition. The rooster has a small chip in its beak. When I have time – I will take pictures to send to you. I really would like to find someone who can do appraisals in the Washington, DC area. Are you ever in this area?? Thank you so much!!

  6. Hi Michelle, I have 10 dinner plates, bowls, serving platter and serving bowls in the progressive Blue haven pattern. Is it worth much? Thanks, Paula

  7. Hi Michelle, I have 2 small decorative bowls with Nippon Hand Painted and Pagoda marking and I can’t find any others that look like these. Would you be willing to look at them and tell me their worth?

    Thank you

    • Michelle Staley

      I would need to see photos of the mark on the bottom and do a full appraisal on it please visit Submit an Online Appraisal. Once payment is received you will be directed to the email address where you can send the photos.

      Thank you, Michelle Staley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *