When the precursor to Noritake Co., Limited was founded in 1904 in the village of Noritake outside Nagoya, Japan, the choice was not accidental. The land around Nagoya was rich with kaolin, the type of clay most favored by manufacturers of fine porcelain. Since one of the company’s goals was to produce Japan’s finest china, Noritake needed to be close to the best source materials available.

It didn't take long for the company to achieve its initial goal—by 1910 it could claim Emperor Taisho among its customers. Noritake made dinnerware for the Japanese Navy, and by 1911 its cups, saucers, plates, and bowls were sold in department stores throughout Japan.

This early success was obviously welcome, but Noritake had a second, loftier goal—to supply Western-style china and dinnerware to the West. The first breakthrough on that front was a pattern called Sedan, which was exported to the U.S. in 1914. The ware was simple, predominantly white, with a cream-colored, hand-painted, flower-dotted border.

Other lines of dinnerware were characterized by their liberal use of gold glaze. By the early 1920s, Noritake had introduced assembly-line techniques, which allowed the company to more widely distribute its dinnerware around the world.

Around the same time, Noritake produced a "fancy line," which borrowed from Art Nouveau and Belle Epoque styles. After the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, Noritake’s fancy-line products shifted to embrace Art Deco.

Steering the company in the direction of Western tastes was an Englishman named Cyril Leigh. He promoted both floral and geometric designs in the Art Deco style. He pushed his colleagues to read publications such as Vanity Fair and Vogue, and to study the work of illustrators such as Erté and Homer Conant.

In particular, Noritake designers would borrow liberally from Conant, copying details from his prints of the 1924 Broadway musical Madame Pompadour for their hand-painted plates and plaques. Other classic Noritake imagery depicted nostalgic scenes of quiet ponds or solitary farmhouses in rural settings...

As Noritake expanded its export of dinnerware and fancy pieces, it created a cherry-blossom backstamp for ceramics shipped to the United States; the backstamp, which included the words "Made In Japan," was used from 1921 through 1941. A second backstamp, previously called Komaru and now known as Maruki, featured a symbol that resembled a six-legged spider and was used on pieces shipped to the United Kingdom. A third backstamp from 1914 to 1940 had an "M" set within a wreath; these were stamped on pieces imported by Morimura of New York.

Noritake’s popularity in 1920s America coincided with the acceptance of cigarette smoking by women. The company responded to this opportunity by creating whimsical ashtrays, cigarette boxes, and humidors, many in the shape of women with bone-white skin, often holding or puffing a cigarette. Sometimes the women depicted in Noritake pieces were dressed as harlequins; other times they resembled flappers in iridescent gold dresses.

Other ashtrays with a decidedly feminine look were those with figurals of cats, dogs, and birds perched on their edges. And since cigarettes and cards were joined at the hip during this period, many Noritake tobacco pieces were decorated with hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, each of which would have a stylish woman’s face at its center.

Two of the most collectible types of Noritake from the 1920s are the so-called Gemini and Sisters bowls. The Sisters consisted of figurals of identical twins on either side of a bowl, whose interior was often decorated with flowers or butterflies. The Geminis were similar, except the figurals faced away from each other and their arms were bent back to create a handle for the bowl. Other bowls had one to four handles in shapes that ranged from wicker baskets to serving platters—windmills at sunset, birds in flight, and fountains in courtyards were typical of the company’s imagery.

For the dining table, Noritake produced honey pots in the shapes of gaily colored beehives, complete with gold-glazed bee figurals buzzing about their outside surfaces. Sugar-and-creamer sets were quite common, as were salt-and-pepper shakers, many of which were shaped like women’s heads or painted in styles that suggested Pennsylvania Dutch influences.

In the bedroom, Noritake fans could purchase "dresser dolls," which resembled the female-shaped cigarette containers but were designed for powder puffs. Hatpin holders, perfume bottles, and trinket trays in rich, lustrous glazes were also produced. The "lemon plates," which sport a single black or golden loop handle, are great for beginning Noritake collectors because they are so plentiful, with the exception of plates decorated with a woman fanning herself. The lemon plates were designed to hold lemons for afternoon tea, so naturally tea services were also manufactured.

Finally, Noritake produced a wide range of vases and containers for plants—from low, square or round vessels for ferns to ornate and even garish flower frogs. Some vases resembled tree trunks, albeit ones with iridescent bronze surfaces; others used traditional Greek shapes as canvases for floral motifs, birds, and the ever-present farmhouses and windmills. Particularly arresting are the vases whose mouths have been bent back so they resemble a pitcher plant, as well as the various styles of fans vases and sconces, which are known as wall pockets among collectors of vintage and antique Noritake.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Art Deco Porcelain 1920s 1930s Green Gold Rare Pattern Noritake Coffee Set Art Deco Noritake Japan Pair Tall Twin Handled Gilded Handpainted Vases 1920'sNoritake Christmas Ball No. 175 Porcelain China Set Of 12 Tea Cups & Saucers NrNoritake Christmas Ball No. 175 Porcelain China 5 Dinner Plates & 3 Soup BowlsNoritake Christmas Ball No. 175 Porcelain China Set Of 6 Luncheon Plates No ResNoritake M Japan Hand Painted Green Porcelain Napkin Ring Butterfly Pre WwiiBeautiful Noritake "shenandoah" Bud Vase 9729 / Take A Look!Beautiful Noritake 9729 "shenandoah" Shell Shaped Dish/rare!Noritake Christmas Ball China Dinner PlatesNoritake Christmas Ball No. 175 Porcelain China Set Of 8 Berry Bowls No ReserveBeautiful Noritake 9729 "shenandoah" Gravy Boat & Under Plate/ Look!Noritake Christmas Ball No. 175 Porcelain China Group Of 4 Serving Dishes No ResNoritake Anticipation 45 Items Total" Retired " Noritake Mr. Snowman Dinner Plates Pattern Epoch E115Set Of 4 Noritake Royal Hunt - 10 1/2 Inch Dinner Plates Excellent ConditionVintage Noritake #175 Gold Christmas Ball Set 6 Wide Soup BowlsVintage Noritake Ivory China Cervantes 7261 Pastel Pattern ~ 29 Plates Noritake - Floreal #76839 - 2 Soup/cereal BowlsNoritake China SetNew ~ Noritake Brookhollow Covered Vegetable Dish (l@@k) $150 Off Reg.Noritake Foxboro Dinner Plate 10 5/8" Salad Plate 8 3/8" + Bread Plate 6 5/8"!!!Noritake Barrymore Rimmed Dessert Bowsl Set Of 10Set Of Noritake China With Serving PiecesNoritake Gold And Sable Salt & Pepper 438489 - Sealed In Original PackagingNoritake Foxboro Salad Plate, Birds On Cobalt Blue With Gold Trim Pattern # 4302Hand Painted Nippon Perfume Vanity Porcelain Bottle Vintage Noritake Nippon Toki Kaisha Floral Porcelain Vase Artist Signed 1950'sBeautiful Noritake 9729 "shenandoah" Suger And Creamer Set/ Look!Set Of 4-lot Of 4- Noritake Colorwave Purple Coffee Cups-mugsNoritake Foxboro 12" Oval Serving Platter, Birds On Cobalt W/ Gold Trim Noritake Ivory China, Rothschild, Gravy Boat And Under Tray, In Mint ConditionNoritake "m" Japanese Porcelain China Set Of 10 Plates 7 1/2" DiameterNoritake Shenandoah Oval Vegetable BowlNoritake Royal Hunt 3930 Covered Sugar Bowl W/ Lid Gold Trim NewEnameled Porcelain Vase Nippon Noritake ?Vintage Set Of Two Noritake Cyrano Double Handle Cream Soup Bowls Made In Japan Noritake Royal Hunt Mug ChristmasNoritake China Trojan 4 Cups & Saucers SetNoritake Mr. Snowman Pattern Epoch E115 Set Of 4 MugsNoritake Gourmet Harvest Tea Kettle 2 Quart Porcelain Enamel On Steel -nibFine China-noritake Windham Contemporary Collection-set Of 12 Plus Serving PieceVintage Noritake Hand Painted Candle Stick Holder Rare Vintage Retired Noritake Goldkin 4985 15 Piece Coffee/demitasse Set 1950's Noritake "m" Japanese Porcelain China In 10" Diameter Set Of 10 PlatesNoritake Ivory China, Rothschild, Round Serving Bowl, In Mint Condition.Noritake Foxboro Dinner Plate, Birds On Cobalt Band,scalloped,gold Trim, JapanNoritake Twas The Night Before Christmas (8100) Creamer & Sugar NewMint 1st Quality Lenox 5 Rutledge Piece Place SettingNoritake China Blue Moon ~set Of 6 ~ Dinner Plates Excellent Condition4 Vintage Rare Noritake Orange Amberina Provincial 6 1/4 Glass Water Goblets Noritake Carolyn Contemporary Two 5 Piece Place SettingsNoritake/nippon Chocolate Pot/carmen PatternNoritake La Prada 5 Piece Place Setting(s) Bone ChinaBeautiful Noritake "shenandoah" Salt & Pepper Set / Excellent!Set Of 8 Noritake Crystal Sweet Swirl Midnight Dark Blue Iced Tea Glasses Goblet(2) Noritake Gala Cuisine 7915 Conservatory Fruit / Berry Bowls4 Dinner Plates Linton Noritake Ivory Gold Line Trim And Verge 10 1/2" Free S/hNoritake Foxboro Bread & Butter Plate Pattern #4302 Birds On Cobalt Band Set 4 Noritake Elegant 7 1/8" Bright Pink Drink Water Glasses Goblets StemsNoritake - Pheasant - Large 16" Platter

Recent News: Noritake China

Source: Google News

Kovels.com Top 20 Antiques and Collectibles Searches for November 2014
Press Release Rocket, December 11th

2014, collectors were searching for prices of: 1) Fenton, 2) Occupied Japan, 3) Stoves, 4) Coca-Cola, 5) Furniture, 6) Dinnerware, 7) Depression Glass, 8) Wedgwood, 9) Jewelry, 10) Delft, 11) Capo-Di-Monte, 12) Lamps, 13) Hull, 14) Banks, 15) Pepsi...Read more

Creative settings that help bring the season's spirit to your dining tables
Inquirer.net, December 5th

The Yuletide season calls for parties with friends and loved ones. Everyone enjoys visiting homes decked in the most lovely of decorations for the holidays. Home interiors complete with Christmas trimmings and lights look most festive this time of the...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: December 5-7: Estate Sales: Holiday Countdown Edition
Austin Chronicle, December 5th

1980 "Saturday Morning" serigraph by Austinite Teresa Farr, prints by William Duryea (1911-1986), vintage Air Force prints et al; 1940s handmade American "Fan" quilt; Waterford, amberina, ruby red and other glass and crystal; Noritake "Casablanca...Read more

In search of the perfect wine glass
Livemint, November 21st

As a college student, if you had told me that people would pay good money for dishes from Rosenthal, Noritake, Villeroy & Boch, and Versace, I would have sputtered out the hot hostel bondas that were served on greasy, grainy stainless steel plates with...Read more

Collecting Q&A: Noritake china has been imported since 1914
NewsOK.com, October 26th

They established an importing firm in 1878 in New York City. By 1914 they began producing dinnerware that appealed to Western tastes. They had factories in Kyoto, Tokyo and Noritake. Most pieces were marked with the letter “M” in a wreath until the 1950s...Read more

Noritake Introduces a new Sample Program allowing customers to Choose ...
PR Web (press release), October 15th

In response to the lack of tactile experience in shopping for dinnerware online, Noritake has launched the Sample Selection Program on NoritakeChina.com. This program allows for risk-free purchasing of multiple dinnerware patterns, in order for...Read more

Chess set, family portraits, Noritake vase and carved wall shelves: Attic Finds
The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com (blog), October 3rd

Question: I've had this chess set since my father passed away in 1996. It was made by ALCOA apparently in the early 1970s. The playing pieces are cast aluminum and all are characters from "Alice in Wonderland." The book in the center is a manual...Read more

Premium highballs; Noritake dinnerware fair; Hennessy pop-up bar
The Japan Times, September 16th

Two special blends of highball are now available for a limited period at the Royal Park Hotel The Shiodome in Tokyo. Customers who visit The Bar on the 24th floor of the hotel can enjoy the night view from the bar lounge while drinking a “Masataka and...Read more