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Collector Alert: Altered NAO Marks
For me, one of the advantages of collecting
NAO has always been its apparent insulation from the "seconds"
sold in the regular Lladró line. Recently, however, two different readers of this
site have submitted questions to me, with accompanying pictures, about NAO items with genuine marks
in which the ship logo has certainly been scraped off (see example at right).
In the regular Lladró line, an altered mark on a regular catalog
piece can mean one of three things: a "second" rejected as first quality
at the factory and sold at a discount, a Lladró "outlet" purchase in which first quality items
have the logo scratched away to allow sale at a discount (and ostensibly to
avoid competition with authorized dealer sales), or a "gray market" purchase
in which non-authorized dealers acquire items outside the authorized export pipeline
and alter the logos for discount sale.
In all three cases, the operative phrase is "discount sale" at the retail
level. Since it is notoriously
impossible to determine why a "second" gets to be that way (as any defects
are not obvious) - and since, in the field of antiques and collectibles,
the mark has traditionally been regarded as an integral part of a porcelain
model - serious collectors avoid all Lladró products with altered marks
as "seconds." That means there is a very limited market for them and the value
is only a fraction of the same model with an unaltered mark.
Genuine NAO Marks
The NAO mark has had an evolutionary history that pretty
much parallels that of the Lladró mark, beginning with items without marks,
then progressing to an impressed mark, and ultimately to a backstamp that
in turn underwent various iterations to arrive at the contemporary backstamp
we have today. The marks are illustrated in the column at right. The
very first NAO marks looked in outline like the first backstamp shown at right
but were impressed into the porcelain and uncolored. Often, these impressed
older marks did not fully imprint.
On this site, you can also see examples of suspicious and counetrfeit
marks. See the link at the bottom of this page or click on the "Fake NAO Marks"
link in the floral banner at left.
First dark brown NAO backstamp. It was
preceded by an impressed mark in the very same style (used in the 1960s; the stylized, almost
Grecian letters of the name didn't always impress fully in the
mark and can be difficult to read). Note the absence of a logo or attribution to
Lladró. This first stamp was used c 1970 to the mid 70s.|
This backstamp with logo, the words "by Lladró" and the
© DAISA Lladró copyright notice, with or without date, was used from
about 1977 through the decade of the 80s. The increasing
"clutter" in the mark made it fuzzy.
This streamlined backstamp, with logo that
integrates the name, was used through the decade of the 90s. In this photo,
you can also just barely make out the item's serial number etched into
the base, paralleling a similar (though earlier) development in the core
collection. The second line reads, "Hand Made in Spain by Lladró."
The latest backstamp, introduced sometime early in the
the new millennium. Note that the logo is no longer
visually integrated with the name. That's not all that's
separated: the phrase "by Lladró" has been eliminated
from the mark, leaving only the copyright acronym "DAISA" to identify NAO as a Lladró product.
(The small print says "Hand Made Porcelain, Valencia, Spain,"
followed by the copyright acronym and date.)
A Cautionary Word about Unmarked Items
The Lladró company has already noted that some of its very early items
were unmarked. A distinctive mark or stamp was developed
almost as an afterthought, once it became clear that this company and its
products were actually going to catch on. Unmarked items don't present
attribution problems when the item is catalogued because it can be matched with
known items to assure authenticity.
The problem is that many of these unmarked items would also be uncatalogued (as we're talking the early era,
when detailed production records were not kept, let alone organized) so that
attribution has to be done on the basis of aesthetic and technical
affinities of a given unmarked item to other known Lladró
products. Even when this is done by an expert in secondary market
Lladró, proof is likely to remain an abiding issue, and
if you've ever seen the flat-out junk at Internet auctions
being represented as "unmarked Lladró," you'll understand why the process
of authentication for unmarked items has to be approached with prudent caution. That process
has been further complicated by the recent discovery that Lladró made a brand called
"Rosal," which was often marked only with a sticker that easily came off, leaving the
item without an attribution. A similar brand called Tang, whether or not it was owned by Lladró
or Lladró sculptors, called "Tang" was also marked with stickers.
An example of an unattributed model of a young girl with
butterfly. This item isn't even marked "Made in Spain," but I believe it to
be an unmarked Lladró, in some one or other of its brands, despite the slightly heavier-than-usual application of the
eyebrows (which look darker in this picture than they are). (Photo by the author from her own collection.)
Some unattributed items do offer us at least a clue to origin because they
are marked "Made in Spain," either impressed or in a cobalt blue stamp. Some of
these are of high quality. I have seen a number of such items that
I believe to be exampls of one of the Lladró brands. For more on these
otherwise unattributed items marked simply "Made in Spain," see the "Made in Spain
(No Brand Name)"
link on the floral banner at left.
A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró
by Peggy Whiteneck
Old Line Publishing, LLC
The publisher for this book has ceased publication, and I am now at work on a revised
and expanded edition, with a couple of promising leads for a new publishing option.
For the moment, then, this book will only be available on the retail market from
advance-ordered stock. You can still buy it used - but avoid the scalpers
and DO NOT PAY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR THESE SECOND-HAND BOOKS! There are plenty of
reasonably priced secondary market copies still available at online book sellers. Stay tuned to
this site for future news on the revised edition!
Ever since its founding in the 1950s and its subsequent, stellar rise to global prominence,
collectors have been fascinated with the singular modeling and attention to detail in
Lladró Spanish porcelain figurines. Eventually, collectors discovered that Lladró
wasn't just one brand, but several. At the same time, other companies began to sprout up all
over Spain, particularly around Lladró's own region in Valencia, working
"in the Lladró style" and hoping to catch a ride on the tailwinds of its popularity.
This book is written to acquaint readers with retired figurines in all the Lladró and
Lladró-affiliated brands and to help distinguish them from the work of other Spanish
companies. The book features substantive chapters on the Lladró "core brand,"
NAO by Lladró, Zaphir, Golden Memories, Rosal, and Hispania, complete with
representative photos for each brand.
Retail Price: $29.95