History of Limoges

History of Porcelain Limoges

 

Marco Polo’s famous 24 year trip to the Orient was where the notion of porcelain and Chinese ceramics originated throughout Western Europe. The Chinese were so distinguished for their porcelain production that they influenced European style for centuries. The first Europeans to bring porcelain making to Europe during the middle ages were the Venetians and Portuguese. The most important ingredient to making porcelain is Kaolin, which is a white clay that is a silicate of aluminum found in China, Germany and Limoges France. Europeans didn’t think that such an ingredients could be found in the earth and had their alchemists try to artificially make this substance.For years Europeans used a soft fake substance for porcelain that was more of a soft paste and like that of glass. They couldn’t find a substance like the middle East had made their fine porcelain from. In the early 17th century Kaolin was discovered in Germany and the secret to Chinese porcelain was finally disclosed throughout Europe. It was in the mid to late 18thcentury that Kaolin was discovered in Limoges France in 18 miles southwest of Limoges at St. Yrieix. It is shortly after that time period that the first porcelain Limoges box factory was established. Louis XVI soon bought the Limoges Box factory, and Limoges porcelain box blanks were taken to Sevres to be hand painted and decorated.

No one knows exactly when and who made the first porcelain Limoges snuffbox. The soft paste Faience snuffboxes began to be produced sometime around 1730. These antique snuffboxes can't either be identified by back stamp marks, for none were put on 

them. Nor were they signed or dated. There is no easy way to know if a antique Limoges snuff box is authentic beyond having a 

grasp of the history of the styles they made in that time and the Four big factories that made them, Chantilly(1725-1800), Saint Cloud(1677-1766), Mennecy(1734-73), and Vincennes(1740-56), which became Royal Sevres(1756-present). Sometimes a popular artist at the time would place his signature on the antique Limoges snuffbox. The discovery of Kaolin and the creation of hard-paste Limoges porcelain in 1768 brought many new companies into the scene who began creating Limoges porcelain boxes 

in competition with the big Limoges porcelain box companies. Identifying an 18th century Limoges snuffbox is just as difficult for they also did not mark their Limoges Boxes with back stamps and competitors were producing knockoff's of one another and stealing one another's porcelain formulas and enamel recipes. For back stamps were used it is still difficult to distinguish for many companies in competition would forge one another's Limoges Box back stamps. It is in the 19th century that the soft-paste 

porcelain ceased to exist and only genuine Limoges porcelain boxes were made of the special clay Kaolin come solely into play. But in the 18th century snuff became unpopular and the factories declined in snuff Limoges box making and made more other subjects with porcelain. It was at this time that the Limoges porcelain industry all centered in the actual area of Limoges and it's outlying areas.

Limoges Box is a small hand-painted box made of Limoges Porcelain that has been man-made in Limoges France. 

The Limoges Hinged Box was invented in Paris in the early 1700's, and were popular among the French aristocracy as snuffboxes. The

 Limoges Box virtually disappeared around the French Revolution and came forth again in the 1840's as the aristocracy once

 again began to build. During the Victorian Era the Limoges boxes lost popularity again until the 1970's when people began to carry their pills in the limoges porcelain figurine boxes. Originally Limoges snuffboxes were considered apart of ones wardrobe. They were carried in one 's pocket like a fancy cigarette case. In the 20th century they became popularly used as pillboxes. Although Snuff went out of style long ago. These Limoges boxes in the modern era have developed into a friendship and love collectible dec

orative objects or the most part Limoges Boxes today are used as A special figurine gifts between lovers and friends and used for aesthetic and symbolic value thereof.

Hard paste porcelain is a high quality porcelain that was first developed in China and later used in Europe. This hard paste Limoges porcelain uses the clay called Kaolin. Kaolin Limoges clay is translucent, durable, nonporous and pure white. consists mainly of silicon oxide and aluminum oxide, with a low content of iron oxide and other metallic oxides. White-firing China clay, an essential ingredient of Chinese and French porcelain. Limoges porcelain is a special kind of pottery made with the clay Kaolin that is hardened by heating. It consists mainly of silicon oxide and aluminum oxide, with a low content of iron oxide and other metallic oxides. Limoges porcelain combines a very fine, pure, white clay (kaolin) with pulverized feldspar and quartz. The milling, sieving, and kneading of the clay is a laborious process. Limoges porcelain is often very translucent and consistently smooth in texture and often rings when it is struck.

To be authentic a Limoges Box figurine must be made of Limoges kaolin porcelain.  A back stamp saying Limoges France is a great indication if the box is authentic. There was a law that was passed in 1841 stating that all Limoges boxes must be stamped this way. Some Limoges boxes are better quality that other depending on the degree of detail and quality of the painting, the complexity of the sculpture, and the colors which depict the knowledge, as well as number of firings. Many studios operating within the Limoges area may mark their porcelains Limoges France The number of factories producing Limoges Boxes currently estimate at about 35 different companies. These factories employ anywhere between 6 and 400 workers. These companies can be identified by the marking of Limoges France on the bottom of every trinket or figurine box.

 

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