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A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró

Genuine Figurines & Their Marks

by Peggy Whiteneck
Deals with all Lladró brands!

For those interested in glass figurines, Fenton Art Glass Beasts, Birds & Butterflies is another of Peggy's books!

Also for those interested in glass, Fenton Art Glass Fairy Lamps & Lights is Peggy's latest book! It focuses on small, candle-lit "lamps" that were first used in the Victorian era to light dark hallways before the invention of gaslight or electricity.

Again, the publisher for these works has gone out of business, but I am pursuing other publishing options for revised and expanded editions of all three. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you can still find advance-ordered and used copies of these books at online booksellers.

Suspicious (and Probably Spurious)
NAO Marks

Up to now, one of the strongest points recommending NAO to collectors has been that its "under the radar" status has made it relatively immune to "seconds" and tampering with the mark (either through authorized and unauthorized discount outlets or by amateur sellers), counterfeits, and other problems to which the core collection has been prone over the years. But I suppose it was only a matter of time...As consumers have become more aware of the NAO brand and as collector demand for it has heated up - especially in the UK - NAO was bound, sooner or later, to attract the attention of scammers.

So it is that, only very recently, there have begun to surface some alleged NAO items that look "wrong" to me for various reasons having to do with anomalies in the mark and/or the modeling. I'm running an article about this development here because these items provide an opportunity for collector education toward developing a discerning eye for genuine items.

The first item (pictured below with its base) is a boy with lamb that is marked NAO. The style of the lettering is Grecian, as is characteristic of older marks, and is not particularly easy to reproduce. Still, there are several things "not right" about the mark, beginning with the blue color (as if a counterfeiter had heard a lot about the famous "Lladró blue" mark and hadn't actually realized that the NAO mark was first impressed and later stamped in a dark brown, not blue). However, it could also be that an impressed mark was "colored in" by an amateur photographer to make it show up better in the picture. Nevertheless, what makes me think there may be an intent to deceive is the absence of "Made in Spain" (or, later, "Hand Made in Spain") that appears in all NAO marks, even the oldest impressed ones - a finer point of marks authenticity that counterfeiters (who are often ill-informed and not particularly bright) wouldn't necessarily have known or taken the time to find out. [9/23/07 Update: When I first saw this mark, I thought the blue color alone was enough to disqualify it as genuine. However, just this week, I purchased two early NAO models, both of which are genuine (i.e., actually catalogued), and both had the first NAO backstamp, but in cobalt blue - the first time I have ever found or been able to confirm the mark in this color. However, the mark on my items also included the necessary country of attribution ("Made in Spain").]

A picture of the entire base of the figurine in question. The mark, as it turns out, was done on very early models in cobalt blue though it is most typically seen as a dark brown. But where's the "Made in Spain," found unfailingly on all Spanish- made pieces that are marked at all - even the ones with no maker's mark?

Looking from the mark to the figurine itself (at left), we see a model of a boy with a lamb - a favored early subject done in multiple forms in all the Lladró brands. (For comparison purposes, see, in the NAO catalog on this site, NAO #177, Shepherd on Style. The posture is virtually identical to the item pictured at left, but, though it's difficult to tell from its "thumbnail," the quality is much better on the catalogued #177.) The first thing we might note about the item pictured here is that it is uncatalogued. An uncatalogued item with a suspicious mark is always a red flag; manufacturers of counterfeits are typically not the most competent artisans in the firmament, so they try to avoid making direct copies of known items that can be easily idenitified as fakes by comparison with an original. I must say, however, that counterfeiters usually choose clowns or other popular and more expensive themes in order to leverage their risk, so it's odd they would have chosen a pastoral theme in this instance.

The picture of the item in question isn't particularly sharp, but it's probably still sharp enough to show that the facial modeling is not up to the usual quality of NAO. Nor is the modeling on the rest of the piece exceptional, although I give the artisan(s) points for the separately articulated hands and the ears on the lamb, as less competent manufacturers usually don't go to the extra trouble.

To recap, the subject matter and the style of the lettering in the mark would be factors in favor of concluding that this is a genuine NAO. But the lack of a country attribution ("Made in Spain") and the modeling quality (including facial detail) make it at least questionable. I should also stress here that I am working from pictures and have not actually seen the item in question. Therefore, I am not in a position to make a definitive judgment as to its authenticity, so it must suffice to say that I find it merely "suspicious."

(More on Suspicious Marks)

At Last - A New Lladró Book!

The Lladró Guide; A Collector's Reference to Retired Porcelain Figurines in Lladró Brands

At Last - A New Lladró Book!

The Lladró Guide; A Collector's Reference to Retired Porcelain Figurines in Lladró Brands

My most recent Lladró book has revised and expanded content and remains the only book in print on this topic that isn't just a catalog. Covers all Lladró and Lladró-affiliated brands (regular collection, NAO, Zaphir, Golden Memories, Hispania, Rosal, and Tang) and tells how to distinguish them from imitations and counterfeits. Revised and expanded content includes many new photos and a new chapter on future directions for collectors and the company now that it has passed from family hands. The book is in hard cover, which eliminates that annoying curl-up that happens with paperback books. You can order the book directly from the publisher, Schiffer Books, on Amazon, or from your favorite bookstore using the ISBN 13 number 978-0764358395.

Warning: If you're looking for a catalog of every retired figurine Lladró ever made, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for beautiful, full-color photos of representative models and more in-depth and well-researched information about Lladró and its history and production than you can get in thumbnail photos with captions, this book is what you're looking for.

Retail Price in Hardcover: $45

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