The history of Limoges boxes dates back to the 17th century.

 

Limoges is a  city in the Limousin region of France. It became famous in the 18th Century due to the kaolin found in its rich soil able to produce the perfect mix of elements to create marvelous porcelain dishes, plates, center pieces, dinnerware and the French Limoges porcelain boxes that would make this city famous all over the world. 

Going back in history, we find the first porcelain pieces coming from China. In France,  a soft paste porcelain production was started in 1600s trying to find a similar item as the porcelain  that had arrived to the old continent from Asia. The French realized that the paste had to be fired at very high temperatures and found the earth surrounding the city of Limoges had the same minerals found at the mount Kao-Ling in China. A German alchemist discovered the perfect mix  to produce the base for the white mold of the Limoges porcelain box as we know it today in the earlies 1700s.

 

The city of  Limoges was already the home of very artistic pottery making  and by the late 1700s  Mr Turgot who was King Louis XVI's  businessman realized its importance for the economic development of the country.  The first Limoges porcelain plates and dinnerware were made under commission of the Royal Court of France. The first plates had to be marked with royal crests or initials.

Sevres was the Royal porcelain factory. Limoges porcelain became Limoges Royale as it was basically commisioned by the court. The French Fleur de Lys was the symbol used to stamp the Limoges porcelain items in those days.

The French Revolution was the end of this exclusive royal commission type of industry. By the end of the 18th Century the Limoges industry started making progress with a commercial independent business sense. Limoges saw the establishment of many Limoges factories and creative designs would be allowed from that day on. The later part of the 19th Century can be considered the booming time for Limoges as international interest increased and production of Limoges dinnerware and Limoges porcelain improved with better techniques.

Among the very well known Limoges companies was  Limoges Haviland who supplied lots of dinnerware sets all over the world including the USA by the late 1800s. It was such a privilege that it soon became fashionable among the high society mansions and estates to have a collection of Limoges porcelain plates and centerpieces. After the great depression in the USA the Limoges porcelain plates and decorative accessories were not so affordable anymore and  these heirlooms  increased their value.

A Limoges piece can be valued by its decoration and its source. In terms of the French Limoges boxes it is very important for each Limoges box to have the inscription "Peint Main" which means handpainted in French and Limoges, France next to it. According to its origin it will also have the stamp of signature- initials-- of the artist who painted the box.  Among the very well known Limoges companies was  Limoges Haviland who supplied lots of dinnerware sets all over the world including the USA by the late 1800s. It was such a privilege that it soon became fashionable among the high society mansions and estates to have a collection of Limoges porcelain plates and centerpieces. After the great depression in the USA the Limoges porcelain plates and decorative accessories were not so affordable anymore and  these heirlooms  increased their value.

 

Having gone through the Royal era and being part of the carnet de ball of French and European aristocracy ladies, the Limoges box as we know it today had its origin in the late sixties when a renaissance of the big tabatieres or French snuff boxes used to store tobacco were brought back to life. We can say that David Haviland gave the first breath of internatiobal glamour to the Limoges porcelain dinnerware and tabletop items adapting decors suitable to the USA market but we owe to Charles Martine the founder of Chamart Exclusives the pioneer work to have brought and introduced the French handpainted Limoges porcelain box into the USA market. Following his footsteps, other distributors like Rochard or manufacturers like Artoria  have tried through the years to  create  Limoges boxes for the collector. At The Cottage Shop, we did follow the evolution of the Limoges box from its origin to the present.

For the last 25 years we have had the pleasure to bring  to our customers the most exquisite assortment and high quality authentic French Limoges porcelain boxes featured in our  catalogues we have distributed through the years. We go back to the days of the first introductions into the USA market: the Limoges  big snuff boxes  adapted into a tabletop Limoges box which had no use or apparent meaning at the time for the USA customers.

 

 

 

 

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