Polish Pottery 101
If you've ever turned over a piece of Polish Pottery you've certainly noticed that each piece has a different stamping or signature on it. We're here to help you make sense of it all.
Step 1: Identifying the Factory
There are dozens of Polish Pottery factories, some are more well established and produce higher quality stoneware, some produce gorgeous designs with lesser quality stoneware. There is a range for all tastes and budgets. 99% of our inventory comes from the highest regarded Polish Pottery factory: Ceramika Artystyczna. Ceramika Artystyczna (CA for short) is world renowned for both their artistry and quality. CA pottery is exceptionally high in quality. Pieces that have been used for 15 years can display as new. Cracking and crazing are extraordinarily rare in Quality 1 pieces (we only carry quality 1). The stamp for the Ceramika Artystyczna factory is pictured below.
We also carry seasonal items from Manufaktura, Vena, Galia, Kalich, and Andy. These factories create gorgeous pieces of pottery, but we have not found their bakeware and tableware as durable as that from CA, which is why we do not carry those items on a regular basis.
You can find different stampings from different Polish Pottery factories below.
Please note, the rest of this blog post will be specific to finding information regarding patterns and information about pieces from CA.
Step 2: Traditional vs. Unikat
There are broadly two categories of patterns within the Ceramika Artystyczna factory: traditional and Unikat. The patterns are both painted on the same high quality stoneware, but the time it takes to complete the pattern, along with the level of artistry and price increases with Unikat patterns. Pictured below is a Unikat stamping (left) and a traditional stamp (right).
There are many stratifications of Unikat patterns, U2, U3, U3 (930), U4, U5, and Limited Edition. However, they can be roughly grouped into four categories, simple Unikat (U2), regular Unikat (U3, U3 (930), and U4), U5, and Limited Edition.
Unikat, or signature, pieces have the pattern number and the name of the artist who designed the pattern stamped on the back of the piece. The name of the artist who designed the pattern is the "signature". The artist who paints the piece is very, very rarely the artist who designed the pattern. The initials at the bottom of the stamping are those of the artist who actually painted the piece. Pieces that are painted by the artist who designed the pattern are not valued higher than those who are not. Below is an example of an "original" signed piece.
There are large jumps in artistry and difficulty between U2 and U3, and for that reason we price our U2 patterns the same as our traditional (unsigned pieces).
To shop traditional and U2 patterns, click here.
The level of artistry between U3, U3 (930), and U4 patterns is sometimes noticeable, but not always extraordinarily significant. We price these patterns are regular Unikat, and they are grouped together in our system.
To shop Unikat, click here.
The level of artistry, time required to paint each piece, and therefore also price, between Regular Unikat and U5 is very significant. U5 patterns required the highest level of artistry and time to paint that you can order from the factory. These pieces are very expensive, and are often gorgeous masterpieces.
To shop U5, click here.
If you are identifying a signature pattern, it is very easy to find the pattern number. It's simply stamped on the back! Pictured below is a Unikat stamping.
Traditional pattern numbers are more difficult to identify, because the pattern number is not individually stamped on the back of each piece. We post pattern numbers of all traditional patterns we carry, so feel free to browse our website to see if the pattern number you are looking for is there. Otherwise, reach out to the retailer where you purchased the piece and ask for the pattern number. We are happy to provide pattern numbers for any traditional piece that is purchased from us, and are often happy to look up pattern numbers of pieces you already have in your collection. However, please understand we are not always able to find the number since there are thousands of traditional patterns at this time and more are being created every year.
In terms of CA's quality measurement system, both quality 1 and quality 2 pieces are safe for use in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher. Quality 2 pieces typically only have cosmetic imperfections.
All pottery your purchase should have a sticker signifying which quality level the pottery is. Quality 1 pottery purchased from the factory store in Poland will come with blue stickers, quality 1 pottery ordered for production will come with white stickers. Other quality levels will have different colored stickers. Always verify your pottery is clearly marked from any seller.
We hope you found this guide informative and helpful and are always happy to answer any Polish Pottery questions you may have!