Hand Made Italian Ceramics: how to spot a fake

Italian ceramics - Raffaellesco tuscan pitcher by FIMA (Deruta)Before you close the deal of your life and pay an incredibly low price for what looks like a stunning piece of Deruta pottery, STOP and read these simple guidelines.

Stores are full of rubbish, believe me.
Lots of nice looking ceramic pieces which are machine stamped and sold as original hand made Italian Ceramics. Possibly from reputable regions, like Deruta.

Spotting a fake is possible and quite easy. Follow these simple steps.

1 – Turn the Italian ceramic piece you’re interested in upside down and make sure there is an unglazed area.

Italian ceramic bottom - visible unglazed areaThis area, usually a circle, shows the natural brownish orange color of the terracotta (bisque). The bisque is sometimes made of white grayish clay, often used for small pieces, but it’s still clearly visible.

Now you’ll be wondering why this detail is so important.
Let me remind you how the humble terracotta changes into a priceless Italian ceramic. Before the actual hand painting the artisan dips the terracotta deeply into a sieve containing fast drying liquid glaze. This fine powder will prevent the colours
from spreading and blurring into each other during the painting and will bond with the subsequent coloured glazes during the final firing.

The glaze however gets quite sticky during the firing. That is why the clever artist makes sure that his or her fine Italian ceramic pieces are not in touch during the firing and carefully removes the glaze from their base.
The damage would be otherwise irreversible.

2 – Touch the unglazed area. It must be rough.
If it is white and smooth then its not an original Italian ceramic, made with traditional materials and techniques.
Sometimes it is still possible to detect the marks of the long pincer the artisans use to glaze their pottery: it’s two tiny dots usually positioned near the rim of the pieces.

3 – Brush strokes must be visible.
Italian ceramics are alwaysItalian wall plate - Julia Bella by Alvaro Binaglia (Deruta) hand painted and if you look at them closely you will be able to see the single stokes that contribute to the beauty and artistry of your piece.

You will never forget the emotion of a close look to a Renaissance portrait and will find it hard to believe that those colourful, lively characters are painted with no more than 4 or 5 colors.

Now you own the key tools to spot a fake.

If you are passionate about Italian ceramics, though, I have a suggestion for you which goes beyond technicalities.

My suggestion is: look at as many Italian ceramics as possible.

Browse Internet, read books, visit museums, go to exhibitions, visit the stores of your city and touch them. Your senses will grow accustomed to their patterns, their shapes, their look and feel. And in a few years your expertise will match your passion.

In the meantime if you wish to start your own collection of fine Italian ceramics, buy from a reputable dealer. Someone who is willing to tell you more about the piece than just its price, who is happy to spend some time to educate you, who knows the name of the artist and offers a clear return policy.

That is what we try to do at http://thatsarte.com, the web site I set up together with my best friend Manuela, also a lover of quality pottery.

About one year ago Manuela and I decided to step change our professional lives and turn our passion into a real work.
We spent quite a lot of time traveling around the best known Italian ceramic centers to choose the pieces of Dinnerware, Tableware and Decoration accents we most liked.

Tough life, you must think.

We collected more than 4,000 beautiful Italian ceramic pieces hand made by the most talented artists in Italy. Have a look at it. You’ll also find information on Italian ceramics history, tradition and making and a lot more. You will enjoy every minute of it. Click now http://thatsarte.com

98 thoughts on “Hand Made Italian Ceramics: how to spot a fake

  1. We have a white picher type that may be a water pitcher, it has the number and letter v/l on it, it also says pauls products D.y.p. and under that it says este.underthe v/l it says made in Italy. Could you possibly tell us its value.? There is a gold sticker that says pauls products, est 1898 and in the middle of the sticker it says e.p.p.and cmpany new york and the stcker also says made in Italy The vase has roses and may be two sunflowers on it.

  2. We have a white picher type that may be a water pitcher, it has the number and letter v/l on it, it also says pauls products D.y.p. and under that it says este.underthe v/l it says made in Italy. Could you possibly tell us its value.? There is a gold sticker that says pauls products, est 1898 and in the middle of the sticker it says e.p.p.and company , new york The sticker says made in italy

  3. Hello, i have a blog Reading Italian Maps and I was wondering if it would be possible to reblog this post, with full credits, of course, and a link to your site. You have my e-mail, let me know if you’re interested.


  5. Hi,
    I have an elaborate vase with lid.It has a duck-like spout and snake-like handle.It is matt finish of light brown background with darker brown flutes.This background is covered with a blue/yellow flowers and green leaves.
    On the baseis a PH monogram,Deruta,457/30,DIPIMZOAMANO?
    The rim on the base is unglazed and dark brown but quite smooth
    Any ideas?
    John on the Wirral.

  6. I have a service for 6 of C.A.S. Vietri bird dishes with serving bowl,platter, sugar and creamer. These pieces have the number 690 hand written on the bottom. These were given to me in 1970. These pieces are orange with blue trim and a white bird in the middle.
    Are these are the REAL thing and approx what a service of this type would go for?

  7. I have a vase that I believe came with my grandma from Italy, the colors are bright flowers and look painted by hand. The bottom shows F.B.C. ITALY, then numbers, I think, h0-7577.But, the bottom has a chip and shows white chalking material, not terracota. I can not find anything on it, What do you think, thanks, K

  8. i have a pair of marble horse head bookends and wont to know how much there worth what website would i go to please

  9. I have a piece of Pauls. It has to go back to the late 40’s as I am 60 and my parents always had it in their home. It says 220/41/

    Can I send a pic to identify it? Also to see how much it may be worth

  10. I have a carrot shaped (maybe candy) dish that is orange with green top and a bamboo handle. On the bottom is painted black but is not painted where it sits on the bottom and is marked ITALY and numbered 5 . 207. Just curious because I love almost everything that is vintage. It has been in my family at least 45 years.
    Thank you

  11. Hi im billy
    I have a bowl, maby a fruit bowl or a pata bowl, i dont know. It has 1 pepper 1 pickle 1 plum and 3 beats on it, it has brush stroke and a orange brown bottom ring. On the bottom it says ITALY 25/A and its all in caps just like that. If yo have any ifo on it please let me know.


  12. DESIMONE Pottery;


    “Here is an absolutely breath taking and amazing piece of pottery by Italian Artist Giovanni Desimone, a student of Pablo Picasso.” False, he was not a student of Picasso!

    Buyer beware; These E-bay descriptions for Giovanni Desimone pottery are incorrect. Most of these items were not made by Giovanni, buy were made in the De Simone factory.

  13. My Neighbor is 91 and i am trying to help him sell some treasures 16-17th century Majolica Game Pie Tureen with So Much Detail WOW..Most Gorgeous thing I have ever seen!! Museum Quality Piece.I know it is a Rare find who Can I trust to give me Accurate Information on My Piece. It was appraised in new york in the 1960s for 10,000.00.I am Desperate for Information!!!would like to make this a Dream come True!! for Him if anyone Can help me.Thanks in Advance email at lazykujo at Comcast dot Net!!

  14. I have a very large Soup Tureen with a pedestool base,
    a very large 15 3/4″ platter, and a large leaf shaped ladle. The handles on the soup Tureen are shaped like a leaf. The lid handle is a folded leaf. It is cream colored with green trim. On the bottom it has; made in Italy, Italy is printed in green script with the number 46/2.
    I am trying to find the value of these pieces.
    Can you help me.
    Thank You

  15. Dear Manuela;
    I was recently given three ceramic bowls by a friend whose mother (from Toronto, Canada) left them in her estate. The undersides are bisque and rough, numbered and marked ‘Italy’. They look hand-crafted; however, they are a unique style that I haven’t found on any of the Italian pottery catalogues or websites I’ve seen. I have photos and wondered if I could send you one to look at. I’m interested in your opinion as to whether they are truly Italian and possibly from what region. I can see by the comments posted that you must be deluged by such requests so please forgive me for imposing on your time. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Warm wishes, Sue

  16. I have a pitcher cream and brown in color with orange and yellow flowers on one side. It’s approximately a foot tall. The bottom is rough with Tonya the word ITALY in caps. Can you please tell me more about this or direct me to someone. Thank you

  17. Hi everyone, I have 2 pieces signed SCU in a triangle with intertwined PR itialy . I believe the are Rubboli and would like to know more about them and their value . Thanks! Love your blog! Rose

  18. i bought a large plain white ceramic pitcher today at a flea market and wish to know more about it. it is approx. 12″ tall and 8″ wide with various sculpted fish on it. it is marked, “made in italy 7715” it does have an rough spot on the bottom however it is white, not terra cotta. any ideas?

  19. i have a deruta urn stlye vase its white back ground with orange and brown flowers and leavera on it rough on the under edge it also has a brown spot near the name deruta ive had it a least 27 years but was in my family before that

  20. I found this vase that people are telling me may be Italian. Somewhere along the line someone put a rubber bottom on it that I have only been able to pull bits and pieces. I have not uncovered a mark yet. Is there anyway to send a picture? Looks almost like picasso painting.

  21. I have a ceramic / Clay Bell it has what looks like a fish or camillion or lizard looking creature on top that is orange on one side and purple on the other the bell is painted white with a green design. Inside it says DESIMONE ITALY 62. Is this a one of a kind? I can not find this item anywhere and can you tell me the worth? This was in my Aunts hutch for many years and I just recently inherited it.
    Thank You

  22. Just bought 4 coffee mugs by desimone, numbered 21. I have another vase made by him and these mugs are really heavy – very ‘chunky’. Is this standard or could I have gotten fakes? Thanks.

  23. I bought a shallow ceramic dish at the “Leonardo” Autogrill, which are the roadside chain restaurants along the Italian turnpike. I accidentally broke this cute-looking dish, that I paid less than five euros for, and looked on EBay to see if anyone would have it for sale. It had sentimental value as it reminded me of my trip to Italy. Imagine my surprise that the prices for such a dish were fifty dollars and up! Sure, it’s made in Italy, but it’s not rare (it has no unglazed area). I guess I”ll have to go back to Italy to find one that’s reasonably priced.

  24. I have a small ceramic container that has a lid on it and it is beautifully painted with 3 children,mountains in the background,trees and grass. The lid and top of container is trimmed in gold. On the bottom it has 64/73 Italy,no type of symbolis there. It belonged to my grandmothers sister and I would like to know more about it. Can you help?

  25. Hello:

    I have acquired a vase that seems to be ceramic, with what seems to be wooded decorative handles and base. On the base underneath it says, “hand made, Italy design, M.Y.E. Could you help me with this please. I could send a picture if that would help.

    Many thanks.


  26. I have a ceramic hanging 13″x13″ of the Nativity with the wise men by Desimone. On the back, which is not glazed, in black paint? it says Desimone Made in Italy for Vietri. Then the numbers 16416 or is it /64/6 not sure?

    I purchased this from the Estate Sale of Jack Palance in 2005. The late Actor. His art collection was huge as he traveled the world. The auctioneers were from Pennsylvania and could not tell me anything about it.

    Do you have any idea of value?

    Thank You,

    Kathy Farris

  27. I found a piece of pottery and at the bottom it states Nazareno Picch…(can’t read rest) lavorato a mana Deruto and the numbering is 205,100 and Made in Italy. (It is very multi-colored.). To explain it when you take a paper bag and kind of crumble it it is folded in places. This piece I have is exactly like that. It is gold, red (not a bright red), and kind of a teal green. Can you possibly tell me what I have here. It is not large .. about 8×6 and it has two handles on either side. Please email your responses. I would be most grateful.

  28. I have a pottery bowl or vase with three legs and on each leg has a women, I know its not a fake but I cant find any information on this piece. It has markings on the bottom that says Italy E C. Can you tell me who is the maker?
    Thank you

  29. Hi we were given by an elderly Italian neighbour 2 Desimone vases. They were given them by visiting friends a few years ago but do not know the history. How can we tell if they are Desimone? Thanks

  30. hi i have a bowl it looks like it might be a pencil holder on the bottom of it it says made in italy v1.3./51??? i have no idea what that means but ive been reading on ur blog on how to spot a fake and this is defently a real i know it is

  31. So happy our blog post about how to identify authentic Italian pottery was of help!

  32. The pottery by De Simone is always signed “DE SIMONE” and the signature is usually visible on the piece.

  33. I have a blue glazed vase with gold trim and gold seahorses at the rim. The bottom markings are in gold printing “Paul’s 400/3072/A Italy. Also a circular green and gold sticker that has a globe with E P P & Co. Est 1898. I would like to know how old this vase is and if it’s of any value.

  34. I have a porcellain Devil’s Head. It’s face is scary looking and whte. It has really curly hair, a red tongue and torqoise thorns. I know it wold have to be over 50 years old. I ot it from my deceased father’s home. The name on the back is signed P Malioni. The gold sticker says ceramiche darte marioni. F Italy. Thankyo in advance if you can tell me anything about this. M

  35. We found some info for you. Paolo Marioni founded a small pottery factory in Calenzano (Florence) in 1966. His production is quite interesting, as relevant Italian and International artist designed the pottery pieces that he manufactured in limited quantities.

  36. I have what I think are grandmas dishes from Italy. On the bottom it says FBC. ANAC. One has 5505 on it. Are they authentic ?? Thank you

  37. I have a piece of ceramic, floral in design, red rose and blue flower with yellow center and multiple green colored leaves On a cream colored background, about 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide, footed, rough terracotta ring on bottom, signed by hand
    ITALY 987


    I can’t find any information. It appears to be rather old but somewhat primitive. Any information will be so very much appreciated!

  38. Does anyone know if Desimone signed all of his pieces. I have a piece that has italy signed on the bottom with a handdrawn flower but looks like one of his.

  39. I have a covered cantagalli sugar bowl with additional markings. Next to the cockrell on the bottom are the letters Z B underlined above the number 952. The world Italy also appears and at the bottom is the number 23. Can anybody identify the age, artist or meaning of the markings.

    The sugar bowl cover has “ears” which are jutting out leaves.

  40. I have several platters, serving dishes and lidded baking dishes that are ceramic/stoneware. They are white with some type of black berries and leaves. Each piece is numbered on the bottom and there is a rust-colored triangle that says “ITALY, MONTELUPO, and MANCIOLI” (not sure about the MANCIOLI?) I have searched online a lot and cannot find any pieces that look like this. I can send pictures if you can help with the identification. Thanks so much!

  41. I have a ceramic painted 11 inch rooster figurine. On the bottom is painted “Italy” in blue paint with a marking that looks like a T over a C., also in blue. There is also a small green sticker with “H.23” handwritten on the sticker. Can you tell me if it is real Italian ceramic and the approximate value. I can send a picture if needed. I know it is at least 50 years old.

  42. I found some pottery that has the marks written 40/10 m. n. lo Italy and the t in Italy looks like an umbrella. Any idea as to when this would have been produced or by whom?

  43. Hi I live in New Jersey USA and recently a member of my family passed away leaving a lot of my grand parents ceramics My grand father was from Naples. Can you tell me who I can contact to see if any of these items are Italian ceramics?

  44. I recently acquired a glazed terracotta plate (12″diameter) that says Nicolo’ Giuliano at the bottom. It is glazed with a blue background with a yellow, green and white floral background. I followed your guidelines in determining the authenticity and it applies to this piece. Yet, I can not find anything online that comes close to this plate…I’m seeking to understand if I possibly have an authentic Nicolo’ Giuliano piece and the approximate age. Is there a way I could send some photos? thank you

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