Fight the Fake!
Read also: "Mixing Pots, the Boleslawiec collection of the Książyk families"
European and American markets are flooded by fake products claiming a made in Poland origin. Many of them have a misleading label or name suggesting such origins. The pottery of Bolesławiec is certainly one of the most counterfeit goods. Copyright laws are either too weak or not being enforced enough. Chinese and Japanese companies brashly reproduce shapes and patterns. Items are shipped en masse to Western department stores and many unaware customers are buying these forgeries.
Fighting the fakes is the responsibility of all of us. The pottery of Bolesławiec is a unique heritage transmitted since the 17th century. This production is made from the Bolesławiec clay by a handful of chartered manufacturers. Designs, shapes, motives, and colours are exclusive. Handcraft skills were preciously transmitted over several generations. All the pieces are produced with high standards and quality is graded either Gat1/Qtty1 “quality one” or Gat2/Qtty2 “quality two”, according to the finishing results. Some pieces are “unikat”: made by selected craftsmen, they are signed and have a greater value. Whatever the quality, all the pieces are unique and the pottery of Bolesławiec should be preserved from any reproduction.
Every pattern of Bolesławiec potteries tells a story. Inspired by the traditional Silesian folklore, they represent stylized flowers, trees, birds and all kind of other natural elements. The blue peacock’s eye is the most famous pattern. The sponge ware process is very long because every pattern is stamped individually. With time, manufacturers have developed additional shapes, motives and colours to accommodate the evolution of tastes. In my opinion, traditional models and designs have no equivalent.
How to spot a fake?
1. Check the provenance
Several Polish companies are manufacturing Bolesławiec potteries. The most notorious are Andy, Cergo & Millena, Ceramika Artystysczna, Manufaktura, Wiza, WR Unikat, Zaklady Bolesławiec. Each of them has a distinctive trademark. Every producer has developed an exclusive line of patterns. Most of the different styles mix and match perfectly.
Higher quality pieces are indicated with the “unikat” label and the initial of the artist. Exceptional "unikat" pieces have a reference number, a specific mark and they indicate the full name of the artist. Ceramika Artystysczna has an elaborated “unikat” grading with 3 different qualities: excellent “U2”, exceptional “U3” and unique “U4”. Vintage potteries can have great value when they are signed by a reference artist. Some signatures can be identified. Do not hesitate to contact manufacturers for further information about your “unikat”.
2. Check the quality
- Every piece is the same in shape but different in pattern drawing;
- The glaze of the earthenware is perfect, without delineation or asperities;
- The background is never white and always has the shade of a traditional cream ware;
- Every pattern is recognizable with an identified “series name”;
- Patterns of different series are never mixed together;
- Hand painted patterns are irregular in position, design and colours;
- The colours have a slightly washed-out appearance from the sponge ware process;
- The bottom mark of the manufacturer is stencilled;
- The position of the trademark in the bottom is never the same.
Last but not least: never not compromise with counterfeit products. Quality has a price and tradition is precious.
Misleading name: These items above are made in Japan. They are on sale at TK MAXX (picture taken in Cologne - Setember 2017). The patterns are an obvious copy of the original Bolesławiec style presented below.