El Portal Porcelana

"For People Passionate About Spanish Porcelain"

Home Page

   Regular Collection
      (NAO's History)
      (NAO Marks)
      (Fake NAO Marks)
      (More Fake Marks)
      (Compare a Model)
      (More NAO Info?)
      (NAO Catalog)
          (Retired 2004)
          (Retired 2005)
          (Retired 2006)
          (Retired 2007)
          (Retired 2008)
          (Retired 2009-10)
          (Retired 2011-12)
      (Zaphir Catalog)
   Golden Memories
       (GM Catalog)
     (Hispania Catalog)

Made in Spain
(No Brand Name)


Other Companies



Favorite Links

Slide Show

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)

A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró

by Peggy Whiteneck
published by
Old Line Publishing, LLC
Hampstead, Maryland

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

Back to Top of Page ·  Back Home ·  Contact Us

The logo background and side border graphic on this site are provided courtesy of Absolute Background Textures Archive (www.grsites.com/textures). All other content and graphics on this site are © Peggy Whiteneck. No reproduction of any part of this content is permitted without the express permission of the web site author.