El Portal Porcelana

"For People Passionate About Spanish Porcelain"

Home Page

LLADRÓ
   Regular Collection
   NAO
      (NAO's History)
      ("Clones")
      (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)
   Rosal
   Tang
   Zaphir
      (Zaphir Catalog)
   Golden Memories
       (GM Catalog)
   Hispania
     (Hispania Catalog)

Made in Spain
(No Brand Name)

Nadal

Other Companies
   Nalda

FAQ PAGES

Glossary

Favorite Links

Slide Show


Now Out of Print


Latest Lladró Book!

A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró ;
Genuine Figurines & Their Marks

by Peggy Whiteneck
Deals with all Lladró brands!

Click here to order!



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

Click here to order!



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.

Click here to order!

NAO Herons: A Case Study
in Comparing Models and Marks

Updated 7/18/10

Well, these cobalt blue NAO marks keep surfacing, and I had originally thought that all of them were fakes, appearing on copies that were good enough to fool an expert. As I noted, counterfeiters generally prefer to leverage their risk by developing "fantasy models" that were never actually catalogued. In this way, the fakes, which are nearly always inferior in demonstrable ways to the product they try to mirror, can't be compared with legitimate originals. Thanks to an alert collector, I'm able to offer on this page a side-by-side comparison of a genuine NAO model, one of its oldest and most popular, and a model that looks much like it but which, for reasons I'll lay out here, I wasn't (at least initially!) convinced was genuine.

First, it must be conceded that, if my original instinct was right, this is a pretty good fake as fakes go. Counterfeiters like animal and bird models, not only becaus they're popular with consumers and thus help to leverage a counterfeiter's risk, but also because the very distinctive form of a Lladró face makes the human models a special challenge to duplicate successfully.

On the other hand, I've already noted that counterfeiters almost never try to imitate known models, and they usually try to steer clear of complex models such as this one, which have multiple projecting parts requiring extra molds and are, therefore, both expensive and challenging to make.
At left, the genuine model of NAO's "Flying Herons" (model #44), at right an item about which I was originally unsure - for reasons explained in the text of this page. Hint: it's not the color. Color variations from pale to relatively pronounced are common in hand-painted models.

Nevertheless, there are subtle differences in the two versions of the model. First, note that the legs and feet on the birds are disproportionately thick in the questionable model (above right) and that they extend beyond the birds' tails in a manner they do not in the genuine article at left. (We leave aside here the matter of whether the flying birds' legs should extend beyond the tail. One of the ironies here is that, in the questionable model, the position of the feet vis-a-vis the tail is probably more faithful to the anatomy of a flying heron!)

A close-up view of the heads on the questionable model.
It's an improbable connection for birds in flight!

The treatment of the heads in the questionable model is less succecssful. Note that the heads are parallel in the genuine model and that they actually touch - or "collide!" - in what may have been an ultimately unsuccessul effort by imitators to duplicate the original but which could just as easily have been an earlier genuine effort by actual NAO artisans that was subsequently perfected in the model. This decision to have the heads touching may have been dictated by the technical difficulties in getting those long necks and heads to suspend in space as they do in the known model. Lladró artisans are noted not only for their aesthetic but for their technical mastery - their ability to get long arms, legs, necks, and wings to occupy space as if they were suspended in it - or as if the air itself were holding them up. It's one of the telltale problems for counterfeiters, who generally don't have the technical expertise to be able to pull that off. On the other hand, that technical expertise is acquired over time, and it could be that the less successful rendition of the model is simply an earlier version that was later perfected.

I had originally been convinced, when I first wrote this web page, that a cobalt blue NAO mark was so definitively "not right" as to be the sure sign of a fake. Since then, however, I have myself purchased, in an antique shop in Northern New England, two companion models of NAO groupings with blue backstamps that I am absolutely convinced are genuine. Original NAO marks were, of course, etched or imprinted, without color, directly into the porcelain. It could be that the very earliest NAO backstamp, perhaps only used for the shortest of time periods, was actually cobalt blue, a sort of interim stamp before the brand came up with a distinctive dark brown mark color of its own.

In this particular example, I'm not bothered by the "dangling mark" (a term I use in my books on Lladró to describe a backstamp in which the paint chip doesn't completely unfurl). I am bothered by the poor definition of the NAO lettering. Though the pseudo-Greek stylization is faithful to the genuine mark, note the truncated left leg on the "N."

Still, on balance, I'm not as ready as I initially was to conclude that this blue-marked example is a counterfeit. It could, after all, be a very early example of the model, whose coarser modeling aspects were subsequently corrected as NAO artisans became increasingly skilled at making it.

(Finding More Info on Retired NAO)

Now Available!
A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró

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

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
S & H: $5.95

Click Here to Order!

Also available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com
or through any bookseller by ISBN order #13: 978-0-9845704-6-1.




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.