Identifying Danish Modern Ceramics
May 25th, 2012
I spent this past Sunday researching the date and maker of our newest arrival of modern Danish and Scandinavian ceramics. In early March, owner Steve Swanson and manager Phoebe Krejci traveled to Denmark to hunt for modern furniture and home furnishings. Phoebe focused on ceramics and art, and found a wonderful lot that has recently arrived at our showroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
While researching a Royal Copenhagen piece, I found that they have an ingenious yet simple way of recording the date of the piece directly and discreetly within their stamped logo. A variation of hash marks above or below the letters of Royal Copenhagen Denmark are used to denote the date. For instance, a hash mark below the 'h' of 'Copenhagen' means the piece was made in 1967. A mark below the preceeding 'n' indicates 1966, and so forth. A helpful website can be found here.
The mark of the artist is not always the easiest to decipher. Artists often marked their work with a stylized version of their initials, of which, the letters are not always initially apparent. The signatures can also change from earlier to later works. Some artists used symbols rather than initials, as it the case with Michael Anderson & Sons, who used the symbol of a boat with three fish. The mark looks more like a triangle with three parallel lines in the interior, but once you've recognized it, its unmistakable. The artist marks are often below the factory stamp. The stamp of Nils Thorsson is highly stylized and easily recognizable.
Johanne Gerber, Kari Christensen
The numbers painted on the piece do not indicate the number of that particular piece made, as many may assume. The top number indicates the pattern painted on the piece, and the number below indicates the shape of the piece. So, if you searched for "870/3726 Royal Copenhagen", your search would return a number of the same pieces from different retailers, and whatnot. The dishes shown below are the same shape, number 3726, but it are painted with a different patterns, number 870 and 635.
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics