Recently on our Facebook page I posed this trivia question:  What company did Nippon become?   

Answer: Noritake and here’s…..

…the rest of the story.  Nippon existed as part of a trade group from 1876 onward.  It wasn’t formalized as a separate company until 1904 and its full name was Nippon Toki Kaisha, Ltd., which loosely translates to “Japan’s Finest China Company.”  The factory was located in, yup, you guessed it, Noritake, Japan.   From 1904 – 1921 various forms of a “Nippon” mark were used because Nippon means Japan.  Two are below but others were also used.  1891 – 1921 are considered the golden years for quality Nippon.  

Nippon Morimura mark

The Nippon Morimura Brothers mark. The brothers were founders of the trade company from which Nippon originated.









From 1908 – 1911 they introduced and used Noritake marks on some Nippon ware but most pieces were marked Nippon. 

In 1921 the US passed a law that imported wares must be marked with their company of origin in English and after that date the Nippon marks were rarely used.  

Did you know?

  • American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed tableware for Noritake in the 1920’s.
    frank lloyd wright noritake china

    1984 reproduction of Frank Lloyd Wrights china design

  • due to an inability to maintain quality standards after WWII the company stopped using Noritake on their marks and used ‘Rose China’ alongside a rose with ‘Made in Japan’ or ‘Made in Occupied Japan’ for a short time
  • The first Hollerith tabulator (later IBM) in Japan was installed at Nippon Pottery in September 1925, making Noritake IBM customer #1 in Japan.
  • the company name was not officially changed to the Noritake Co., Limited until 1981.  The name change was initially prohibited because Noritake is the name of a place.
  • the full company name is Kabushiki-gaisha Noritake Kanpanī Rimitedo.


Prices vary greatly depending on the piece.  Unfortunately in the 1960s many fake Nippon pieces were produced and this negatively impacted the market.  If you plan on purchasing an expensive piece of Nippon please do some homework first, fake marks are detectable and there is lots of information about them on the internet.

Queen Louise vase sold for $13,000 in 2016

Fisherman plaque sold for $5,000 plus buyers premium in 2010

Coralene Iris vase sold for $2,000 plus buyers premium in 2004

Want to learn more?  Join us on our Facebook page (@AToBVintage) for more trivia and games and get a #sneakpeek at upcoming items before they’re listed.

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