Friday, May 24, 2019

Majoilica or 'Due Diligence'.

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I’ve seen a lot of posts here and on Facebook vintage groups tossing around the word ‘Majoilica’ referring to any glazed ceramics. Finding a piece of Majoilica can mean a 150 year old piece of Minton, or a plate from Pottery Barn, or a vase purchased from Hobby Lobby in the last 20 years. 

Just because some dealer has a piece listed for $99.00 on ebay ---doesn’t make it real or worth anything at all. Unmarked ceramics and even marked (impressed or printed) ceramics or Majoilica may not be authentic 19th century or older ceramics.

The best way to know what you have found or what you are selling (and staking your reputation on) is to do –due diligience in research. DUE DILIGIENCE -reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling something.
In other words---not knowingly lead others astray. In this day and age of having the world at our fingertips--we SHOULD all use due diligence in attempting to find out what it is we are actually selling.
We are often guilty of searching in all sorts of high-end places when we think we have found something ‘special’. But, ln Victorian Majoilica---fakes, reproductions and mass produced inferiors abound. What we have to do---is search for the fakes.

For this article I simply googled “fake majoilica” or majolica and here is what I came up with in a few minutes.

Excellent article on reproduced or replication of Minton Majoilica

I remember similar pieces appearing on Hobby Lobby shelves in the late 1990s and early 2000’s.

Color is the biggest giveaway---for reproductions. Originally majoilica was produced with tin glazes and lead-based glazes---more can be found here on the EPA blog about lead in ceramics.

When you remove or restrict lead in glazes it affects colors and glaze behavior, so colors are sometimes, just a bit off from the original lead glazes of the 19thcentury. Too bright and too on the surface color and not really imbedded within the original two glaze process of original majoilica.

Reproductions are most often from Asia, but European markets abound in contemporary majoilica pieces in Spain, France and Italy. Often the identical piece can be purchased in several different locations all proudly hand signed with the made in ---‘town’, Italy. Tuesday Mornings have some great ‘Made in ‘town’ Italy pieces in the majoilica style.

Look at this beauty---be still my heart!

Here is an Antiques Roadshow piece---from a video---that has since been disabled. But, I snagged a screen shot---and fully attribute this shot to

I would be tempted with this piece---The dripping glaze is something that does occur in tin-lead glazes, when the kilns are a bit too hot---causing wonderful pooling and sometimes gorgeous muddling in pieces. Made in Japan ceramics from the 1940’s became very adept at creating ‘majoilica’ like glazes, with fully leaded glazes. 

A consistently excellent source of information on real Majoilica and fakes is Jimbo at the Glazed and Confused thoughts on Pottery or

Or the Etrustcan Majoilica He has been posting for over 10 years on majoilica and the fakes that have popped up over this time and is the author of a book on Etruscan Majoilica.

Does this look familiar---that daisy pitcher....? The top photo is an original--the bottoms are the reproductions.  I think I have seen this before on a vintage site.

This one I would have fallen for

I would have grabbed this piece in a second for any price….unless it didn't 'feel' of the down-sides of buying online---that touch--test, and wear marks---ps---be wary of 'stained feet and bottoms on 'fake' pottery. Wear use is often uneven and multicolored, not an even gray wash.

I think this was a Hobby Lobby piece----or similar Asian for the design trade. They did an entire lines of ‘fake majoilica’ including serving pieces with that horrible ‘not for food use labels on the bottom. Why have a tureen or baking dish you can’t use--BUT, they make great flower arrangement pots.

At least Hobby Lobby doesn't pretend they are antiques. I actually saw one of their HL 'cache pots' in the front window of an Alexandria, Virginia antique store...this was before Hobby Lobby had encroached on the East Coast. BUYER BEWARE!

Any of these below look familiar---notice the bright fresh colors, or the lack of depth in the glazes. 

A great pinterest Fakes page

I lost the reference of the above photo---but they are all fakes.

This is a magnificent fake---almost perfect---well too perfect maybe. Colors seem right and some glaze pooling---now if it was 150 years old---would it be that perfect??

These two glasses were probably a part of a Japan beverage set---popular in the 1940's. I have biscuit jars and serving dishes from this period---specifically for their fun colors and designs.

So definitely buy what you like---but don't call it Majolica because it has pretty colors.
 research of Real and Fake so you don't lose your reputation for selling something that isn't an antique or even vintage. 
 None of the above photos are mine---and I have tried to attribute them to their source. Please visit the pages sourced.
Thank you for your cooperation, 


  1. Wow! This is super helpful, Sandi. I buy a lot of things online through local estate sale/auctions. There have been a few times I've been disappointed when picking up my "great deals". Sellers don't always have the knowledge, and as you so correctly put it BUYER BEWARE! I love the real thing, and have a FEW pieces that I know are real. Thank you for providing this knowledge and for the links.

    1. You are welcome, Cynthia. I rode out the carnival glass reproductions with my Mom in the 1970's. Suddenly the market was flooded with reproductions---and thanks to Kovel at the time--they were quickly pointed out. Sadly, she had been taken by a couple of glasses that matched a 'real' decanter she had---She kept them together on a table in the living room as a reminder---of do your 'due diligence'.

  2. Thanks, Cynthia. I know what you mean---sometimes it is the feel of the thing--and you just know it is old---and special. That's really hard to learn. My mom used to put a piece of Heisy glass in my hand at an antique show and tell me to close my eyes, and just feel the piece. I've had some great glass pass through my hands over the years that I bought totally on feel, and made a pretty penny on it, selling it for full worth. I wish I could put that experience into words useful---for today's thrifters. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Very interesting post!Thanks for sharing!Hugs,Sandi.

    1. Oh, goodness and you are in the land of beautiful REAL Majoilica...I would love to hunt the bazaars and shops with you, Maristella!

  4. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and for doing the research. I had no idea that there was "fake" Majolica out there so I would have been easily fooled!

    1. I didn't go into it, but REAL Majoilica is really old, way back to the Renaissance. Of course those pieces are only in museums now. Thank you for visiting!

  5. SO much great information -- it really does pay off to do your homework! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm.xo Kathleen

  6. thanks for sharing this Sandi, thank goodness I've never paid more than 20 dollars for anything I have. The real pieces I have were chipped or not perfect. New pieces are pretty easy to spot.

    1. Thanks Debra, I know---it's really a shame that with the internet, pinterest, instagram that people toss around names-antique-vintage very loosely without really bothering to check real stuff out. I really didn't even go into real museum Majoilica from Europe that takes your breath away.

  7. Sandi, I am always heartbroken when I see people paying big sums of money for something they swear is an antique or vintage only to find out it's a fake or a really good reproduction piece based on an antique design. I've noticed more and more how antique shops/booths are including repros in their design aesthetic so this post is definitely a timely one. Hugs, CoCo

    1. For sure CoCo...I wonder who got stuck with that huge compote from Hobby Lobby in that antique store on KING STREET in Alexandria. I shudder actually. I worked for Hobby Lobby for a few years---right when all this stuff was coming in. Now, I see these pieces all over the internet---because they were unmarked and only stickered in the store. It's one thing to pay a couple of dollars at a thrift store---but to be dumped in an antique/vintage store gives all of us a bad name.


Thank you for any and all comments. I will be happy to answer any questions or comments in replies or email! HUGS!