Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Arnart Creations, Japan Tea Set: Collecting Japanese Export Porcelain

I found this vintage Arnart Creations, Japan tea set [pic] more than 2 years ago while treasure hunting at my local thrift store in North Hollywood, California. I was struck by the mid-century design and pattern, along with the qaulity of the porcelain.

It turns out that it was a reproduction of an English pottery design by Spode China, England. The pattern was shown on a demitasse cup and coupe-shape saucer (design shape is different), along with two other modernist shaped patterns by Spode China, 'Coupe Savoy' (plate) and Royal College (teapot), c. 1950's(1).

The tea set has a hand painted green and gold symmetrical geometric pattern of squares, lines and crosses, made of a translucent porcelain and marked on the bottom with a back stamp that reads: crown logo with registered trade mark symbol for Arnart Creations [Japan], ROYAL CROWN [trade name, registered in 1965 and used until 1987], BRITTANY [pattern name], 2675 [pattern number], MADE IN JAPAN [blue and white oval-shape paper label; appearing on one saucer], c. 1960's.

The use of the oval “MADE IN JAPAN” paper labels are often absent on these pieces, because they are easily removed during cleaning or fall off with age. This can add confusion of the country of origin, i.e., misrepresentation of the manufacturer versus being a reproduction of some kind.

The marks, design and shape of this tea set exemplify that of the high quality production of English potteries, but in reality they are just another great example of Japanese export porcelain. Hence, the crown logo with cross, the English pottery 'Windsor' shaped creamer jug in the set and the choice of trade name, 'Royal Crown'.


Japanese export porcelain like this one were the type of innovative designs that the English potteries, German and other competitors were marketing to the U.S. consumer during the turn of the century. They and their U.S. agents had a number of challenges, i.e., Americans were illusioned with the idea that all English china looked like “Grandmother's China”, not the modernist designs being marketed to them and the Europen market during the 1920's through the 1960's.

Although, the modernist shapes like the Arnart, Japan tea set were one of many designs being instigated by the English potteries and its competitors. The geometrical, futuristic and innovative ideas in design were not readily accepted by the European or U.S. markets, but would become popular in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

The 1950's and the ten years that followed were pivotal turning points for the English, U.S. and other Europen potteries when it came to adapting to the ever changing attitudes of the younger generation of consumers. This was a new audience to them, along with the resurgence of the Japanese competition after WWII.

The Japanese exporters were able to produce a lesser quality porcelain by English pottery standards, i.e., Spode, Wedgwood, etc. by employing a cheaper labor force, along with hand painting most of its goods to give the appearance of high quality English china. The Japanese export porcelain business was successful and flooded the U.S. market throughout the 1940's, 1950's and early 1960's.


Arnart Creations [1953-2001] was an export business based in Japan and later established a U.S. office, located at 212 5th Avenue, N.Y., New York in 1957 and introduced the use of the Arnart 5th Ave. trade name, which can be found on some pieces used with the trade name, ie. 'ROYAL CROWN'. The company used the Arnart Creations mark, crown logo, sometimes represented as a blue and gold paper sticker foil label [Original Arnart Creation] on items marked with trade names, such as, 'Royal Chintz', 'Royal Crown' [registered 1965], 'Royal Carlton' [registered in 1957 for porcelain tableware], 'ArMark', 'Original Arnart Creation, Japan', 'Original Arnart Creation, New York' and 'Arnart 5th Ave.' [registered in 1957].

These marks were disguised to represent Western or English pottery marks. Arnart Creations, also used a number of marks that were similar to other famous potteries, ie., “Porzellanmanufatur Kalk”, crossed feathered arrows; K.P.M., crown mark; Capodimonte, crowned “N” mark; variations of beehive marks, along with others to allude to being of English, German, etc. origin.

In 2001 the Arnart Creations company became known as Arnart Imports, Inc. located at 230 Fifth Ave., Ste. 2004, N.Y., New York, discontinuing many old marks, along with withdrawing some of its U.S. patent registrations.


This is an exciting category of collecting, especially because Japanese exports like the Arnart tea set are less expensive than English fine china. There will be opportunities to collect exceptional reproductions of English, German, among other potteries that are well known for producing high quality porcelain. It will sometimes take an astute collector or antique dealer to recognize the original from a reproduction.

Check out this Arnart tea set and other treasures on my website at Thanks for stopping by and happy treasure hunting!

Written by Karen Scott at Karen's Little Red Wagon

(1)Page 213 of “China and Glass in America 1880-1980: From Tabletop to TV Tray”, publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc., copyright in 2000 by Dallas Museum of Art.

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