As many collectors may already know, few records exist from the production years at Gonder Ceramic Arts. We do not have factory records that document glaze names, mold numbers or production volumes to assist us. This has led to speculation and confusion among dealers and collectors for the many pieces produced at Gonder.
Collectors and dealers will often attribute unmarked pieces with drip or crackle glazes to Gonder, even though there were many potteries using similar glazes on their wares. A quick search of Gonder on eBay will nearly always produce at least one unmarked drip or crackle glaze piece being attributed to Gonder.
However, we are fortunate in that nearly all production pieces are marked and have an assigned mold number. There are of course, exceptions, and a handful of pieces contain no mark.
Gonder items are marked on the bottom. Items were generally marked Gonder, Gonder Original, or Gonder Ceramic Arts. Marks may be incised or embossed; block style print or a fanciful script. Marks generally include U.S.A if room permitted. Most pieces are also marked with the mold letter and/or number.
As was common practice at many potteries, markings changed over the life of the pottery. Because most potteries documented these changes in markings, collectors can more easily determine the age of their piece based on the style of mark. This is especially helpful for potteries that produced wares for many, many years. While no hard documentation exists for Gonder marks, it is generally accepted that the style of mark on a piece of Gonder can also assist in dating the piece.
Block Print Mark
The block print mark is believed to be the first marked used on wares produced by Gonder Ceramic Arts. The block mark consists of the word GONDER in capital letters. The mark is incised. Its primitive appearance indicates some early pieces may have been hand incised. It is more likely that as production increased, a stamp was used to impress the mark. This mark is generally found on pieces from the Standard (B, E, H, J, K, L, M, P series) and Imperial Lines. The mold number and U.S.A. (rarely MADE IN USA) are usually included on pieces marked with the block style mark. The font size of the mark will vary with the size of the piece. There are at least three variations of the block style mark. You may find GONDER displayed in the middle of the bottom, or in a curved fashion following the edge of the vase. You may also find GONDER with the middle letters in a slightly smaller font size. I've noted this particular style on the #508 Large Shell Ewers.
The script mark was the next mark introduced by Gonder. Pieces are marked Gonder in a modified cursive script. The script mark makes use of the long tail of the letter G and also adds a similar tail to the letter d. Note the letter E is also modified from lower case to upper case. This creates a beautiful and unique signature. This mark was also used on pieces from the Standard and Imperial Lines. The mark is most often raised but may be incised. The raised mark was likely part of the mold and is consistent from piece to piece. The mold number and U.S.A. are usually included on pieces marked with the script style mark. The font size will vary with the size of the piece. There have been some subtle variations found to this script mark. In particular, the letter G has been found with several variations.
Gonder Original Script Mark
The introduction of the Gonder Original line was accompanied by a new mark. The script mark was reused and the word Original was added to denote the new line of wares designed specifically at and for Gonder. The lower case letter g in the word original made use of the long tail and mimics the tail from the G and d in Gonder. The mark is impressed and will include the mold number. The U.S.A. notation is not found with this mark. As in the script mark, there have been some subtle variations found in the Gonder Original script mark. Oddly, I have noted several pieces that have a raised mold number, while the mark Gonder Original is inscribed.
Gonder Ceramic Arts
The well known figural pieces produced at Gonder – many with buckets, baskets, and bowls – commanded their own unique mark. These pieces are marked Gonder Ceramic Arts in block letters. Letters are upper case and generally preceded by circa 1949 or circa 1950. This mark is incised and usually found on the back of the figure near the bottom. Difficult to locate, it is often overlooked by those unfamiliar with Gonder. It may also be obscured due to heavy glazing.
Gonder Ceramic Arts Ink Stamp
The circa 1949 version of the Asian Water Bearer figures (#777) are marked with an ink stamp mark. COPYWRITE GONDER CERAMIC ARTS is stamped on the bottom of the figure. Because the bottoms are unglazed, these could be marked in such a manner. The ink stamp is prone to fading and may be difficult to see. With the exception of the La Gonda line, the editor knows of no other Gonder pieces marked by ink stamp.
La Gonda Stamp
The La Gonda line of Luncheon ware also secured a unique mark. These pieces are ink stamped with the phrase "This piece individually handcrafted by Gonder". The ink stamp is blue and also prone to fading. The mark on smaller pieces from the line is often difficult to decipher due to extremely small font size. The quality of the mark is often poor and/or illegible.
Gonder supplemented the marks above with paper labels. It is not known if every piece leaving the factory was accompanied by a paper label. As you can imagine, paper labels were often removed by the owners and few remain. Gonder used several paper labels.
While the silver and blue label generally does not warrant an increase in value for a piece, collectors will often pay a premium for pieces with the Chinese Interpretation or Antique Gold Crackle labels due to their rarity.