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Noritake China

Noritake Co., Limited, commonly known as "Noritake," grew out of a trading company established in Tokyo and in New York City by the Morimura Brothers in 1876. In 1904, key members of this trading company created the Nippon Toki Kaisha, Ltd. ("the Company that makes Japan's Finest China"), in Japan. This forerunner of the modern Noritake Company was founded in the village of Noritake, a small suburb near Nagoya, Japan.

For more than a century, this multinational “Kaisha” has engaged in prosperous partnerships, developments, spin-offs and mergers, so that many companies have come under the umbrella of the Nippon Toki Kaisha, Ltd. Most of the company’s early wares carried one of the various “Nippon” back stamps to indicate its country of origin when exported to Western markets. Today, most collectors agree that the best examples of “Nippon-era” (1891-1921) hand painted porcelain carry a back stamp used by "Noritake" during the Nippon era.



Noritake celebrated its 100 year anniversary in January of 2004.

Baron Morimura was born into a merchant family in 1839 who acted as purveyors to the Tokugawa Feudal Shogunate Governing Lords 1603 - 1868 and more. At the Age of 20 he joined a high level delegation to the US after for reciprcial trade negotiations in 1859 after the visit by Commodore Perry in 1852 to Japan.

In 1876 'the founder' Baron Ichizaemon Morimura founded 'Morimura Bros Inc.', not long after Japan opened its doors to the world (end of the Feudal Sogunate Governing Lords 1868), and established export office in Toyko and a retail and wholesale office in New York trading as 'Morimura Brothers Co'. With his astute business acumen he realised that the American market was positioned to receive imports of Japanese porcelain. The range of products imported during this period to the U.S.A., were china, gifts and other decorative products sourced from independent factories around Nagoya.

The original company comprised the following directors -

  • Magobei Okura (father - later founding Okura Art China 1919)
  • Jitsuei Hirose
  • Yasukata Murai
  • Kazuchika Okura and (son - later founding Okura Art China 1919)
  • Kotaro Asukai
In order to ensure that his exports were of the highest quality, 'the founder' recognised the need to control production. In 1904 he established the 'Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha' (the forerunner of the present Noritake Co., Limited) and the first factory was constructed in the then small village town of Noritake, Nagoya, Japan.

Six years later, in 1910, the first china products from the new company, called Nippon Toki Kaisha, left Japan for the U.S.A. market.

The mark used on these wares was the 'M' (standing for Morimura) in the wreath (and was also the crest of the Morimura Family) with the words Hand Painted Nippon. This early period of porcelain production was known as the NIPPON ERA 1968 to 1921. This coincided with the reign of 2 Japanese Emperor's Meiji - 1868 - 1912 and Taisho - 1913 - 1926.

The use of the name 'Nippon' on products imported into the USA at the time was a requirement resulting from the 'McKinley Tariffs & Customs Administrative Act of June 10, 1890', (McKinley Act - highest protective measure ever proposed to Congress) which required in part
  • It advanced duties ad valorem on a considerable number of commodities, both raw materials and manufactured articles.
  • All foreign goods imported into the USA be marked with the country of origin in English.
Japan decided on the use of the name 'Nippon,' as the translated work to english for Japan. In 1921 the USA, deemed the use of the word 'Nippon' unacceptable and required the country of origin name to be 'Japan'.

In 1941 the export offices were closed and the 'M' was changed to an 'N' for Noritake post WW2 Japan. However some pieces with the letter 'M' were produced till around 1953.

There is believed to be more than 400 variations of back marks used on products associated with Noritake which include the founding companies of the Moriumura Brothers.

In 1981 the company changed its name to Noritake Co., Ltd.

Today, the Noritake Company has diversified its 'core ceramic technology' to a cutting-edge company base, which operates five business groups -
  • Industrial Products,
  • Tabletop,
  • Electronics,
  • Ceramics & Materials, and
  • Environmental Engineering
The Noritake Company still holds true to the philosophy set out by Ichizaemon Morimura VI in 1919.

Source: Noritake Collectors Guild

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