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Nippon Porcelain

Nippon is not a specific manufacturer of porcelain, but rather refers to ceramic objects stamped with the word Nippon on their bases. This began in 1891 as a result of the U.S. McKinley Tariff Act forbidding the import of items that weren't clearly marked in legible English words. Nippon is the English spelling of what Americans called Japan at the time. However, in 1921, the name was ruled Japanese in origin. From then on, U.S. Customs no longer accepted pottery stamped with Nippon, and imported china was instead stamped with Japan. Nippon-stamped porcelain is among the most desired collectibles on the antique market and is more highly valued than those marked Japan.

During the Nippon era, Japanese potters were trained to imitate European styles such as Limoges and R.S. Prussia. Created exclusively for selling to the United States, these pieces were elaborately hand painted in a style that was unappealing to the frugal Japanese tastes of the day. A wide range of items were produced including vases, punch bowls, butter tubs, and even dolls. These ornate pieces were less expensive than most European porcelain, and thus highly sought after by many porcelain collectors in the United States.

Keeping with the lavish nature of these pieces, gold was often used between 1891 and 1921. However, it was rarely durable and has worn off in most cases. Collectors should be wary of dealers who add gold paint to these items. Many pieces were painted in a moriage technique, which refers to clay relief decorations. Tapestry texture is also common on Nippon items and is similar to those found on Royal Bayreuth pieces.


Quick Facts

  • Many collectors of Nippon-era porcelain agree that the finest examples of hand painted porcelain were produced by the Noritake factory in Nagoya, Japan
  • In order to keep their decorating techniques a secret, the Noritake factory trained workers to master just one small part of the decorating process so that no one knew the whole process
  • The word "Nippon" was derived from a Chinese phrase meaning "the source of the sun"

Recommended Items at Auction

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3 Vintage Nippon Hand Painted Porcelain Nut Dishes
Feb 27, 6:00 PM EST
3 Vintage Nippon Hand Painted Porcelain Nut Dishes
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$97 Bids
ANTIQUE NIPPON STYLE PORCELAIN CHOCOLATE POT SET
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
ANTIQUE NIPPON STYLE PORCELAIN CHOCOLATE POT SET
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
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Vintage Nippon Imperial Porcelain Hand Painted Vase
Feb 27, 2:00 PM EST
Vintage Nippon Imperial Porcelain Hand Painted Vase
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $10- $200
$101 Bid
Early Hand Painted Nippon Vase
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Early Hand Painted Nippon Vase
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $150- $300
$250 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON & FRENCH TEA SETTINGS
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON & FRENCH TEA SETTINGS
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
Porcelain Salt Dips and Butter Pats
Mar 01, 11:00 AM EST
Porcelain Salt Dips and Butter Pats
by Nest Egg Auctions
Est: $100- $150
$200 Bids
Antique Pioneer Ny Co Nippon Hand Painted Wall Hanging Vase Angels
Mar 15, 9:00 AM EDT
Antique Pioneer Ny Co Nippon Hand Painted Wall Hanging Vase Angels
by Figlio Designs LLC
Est: $150- $300
$140 Bids
MORIMOTO NIPPON HAND-PAINTED RIVER SCENE AMPHORA VASE
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
MORIMOTO NIPPON HAND-PAINTED RIVER SCENE AMPHORA VASE
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
ART NOUVEAU NIPPON STYLE FLORAL BONE CHINA PITCHER
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
ART NOUVEAU NIPPON STYLE FLORAL BONE CHINA PITCHER
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $50- $100
$250 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON & JAPANESE TEA SETTINGS
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON & JAPANESE TEA SETTINGS
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON SETS
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON SETS
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON PITCHER & CUPS
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON PITCHER & CUPS
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON DISHES
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON DISHES
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON VASES, MUG & DISHES
Mar 04, 6:00 PM EST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON VASES, MUG & DISHES
by Atlee Raber Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$50 Bids
Hand Painted NIPPON Moriage Vase
Mar 03, 10:00 AM CST
Hand Painted NIPPON Moriage Vase
by Rivich Auction
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Group of Four Hand Painted Tea and Coffee Pitchers
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Group of Four Hand Painted Tea and Coffee Pitchers
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $1,000
$100 Bids
ROYAL NIPPON NISHIKI HAND-PAINTED PORCELAIN FLORAL TANKARD PITCHER
Mar 02, 9:00 AM CST
ROYAL NIPPON NISHIKI HAND-PAINTED PORCELAIN FLORAL TANKARD PITCHER
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $80- $160
$400 Bids
Antique 19pc Japanese Nippon Moriage Eggshell Porcelain Dragonware Tea Set c1920
Mar 02, 12:00 PM EST
Antique 19pc Japanese Nippon Moriage Eggshell Porcelain Dragonware Tea Set c1920
by Winfield Auction Gallery
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
HAND PAINTED NIPPON SUGAR BOWL W/LID
Mar 09, 11:00 AM CST
HAND PAINTED NIPPON SUGAR BOWL W/LID
by Dees Auction Company,LLC
Est: $15- $25
$20 Bids
Early Hand Painted Nippon Porcelain Vase
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Early Hand Painted Nippon Porcelain Vase
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $1,000
$100 Bids
Signed Nippon Hand Painted Floral Porcelain Bowl
Feb 29, 10:00 AM EST
Signed Nippon Hand Painted Floral Porcelain Bowl
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$10 Bids
Nippon Hand Painted Porcelain Vase
Feb 29, 10:00 AM EST
Nippon Hand Painted Porcelain Vase
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$10 Bids
NIPPON Hand Painted Floral Country Scene
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
NIPPON Hand Painted Floral Country Scene
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $200
$100 Bids
NIPPON Gold Beaded Floral Vase
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
NIPPON Gold Beaded Floral Vase
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $200
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Nippon Porcelain


Premier Auction Galleries

Premier Auction Galleries

Atlee Raber Auctioneer

Atlee Raber Auctioneer

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Berner's Auction Gallery

Berner's Auction Gallery