Villeroy & Boch Mettlach Stoneware marks

Merkur mark

As the most important trademarks in the golden age of Mettlach pottery from 1885 - 1910 there is the tower mark and the Merkur mark. In addition, there are also so-called relief marks (attached brand symbols, see the pictures below), which were used before 1880 .

The tower mark symbolizes the old Mettlach tower from the 11th century . The mark was introduced in 1883 .

The Mercury mark shows the winged head of Mercury with two sticks surrounded by snakes above the banner Villeroy & Boch. Mercury means the god of commerce. This mark was registered by the Imperial Patent Office on March 18, 1876 because on November 30, 1874 a trademark law was introduced in Germany, which came into force on May 1, 1875 .

In the V & B manufactories Mettlach, Bonn, Dresden, Saargemünd, Schramberg, Septfontaines, Torgau and Wallerfangen the mark was used in different colors and different features.

Tower and Mercury marks were incised on the bottom (steins) / back (wall plaques) or stamped (with ink).

But it is also not uncommon to find a stein without a mark from time to time (especially the very early steins around 1860 ) or a wall plaque, whose Merkur marks (ink) can only be recognized as a colored age-related spot . However, these are exceptions. Generally Mettlach ceramics can be easily recognized even without a mark:-)).

For most of the PUG, Rookwood and some Delft and Faience items, a decor number was stamped or painted next to the mold number . In front of the number, the letter " D " or the combination " DEC " was set. Mostly it is only a 3-4 digit number.

Villeroy & Boch marked its products very carefully, unlike many other ceramic manufacturers. Thus, for most products, the form number and the manufactoring year can be read very well. But also information on the size, the decor (usually in PUG, Delft, Fayence and Rookwood ) and a quality control number were shown.

In some cases you will find a golden or black painter number, a test mark (%) and a P (robe) mark . Especially the products with a incised P are in vogue by collectors, as these pre-series products often different (in color or design) from the original and are therefore very rare if not even unique.

If the term " Made in Germany " is shown, then one can assume that the product was intended for export (usually to the USA).

There are really only a few Mettlach ceramic that are not provided with a mark. These were decorative articles with a production date > = 1900 or relief products (as already mentioned) manufactured around 1860 . Also products that have been prefabricated and then (later) decorated to the customer's taste are examples for that.

I myself own a beautiful pompous vase from the period 1900-1920 , which comes from the serial production of Villeroy & Boch Mettlach and which was painted and signed by the director of the Mettlacher drawing school , Peter Winkel . The 60cm large vase (actually an amphora) has received no manufacturer's mark and is clearly attributable to the Mettlach company only by the signature of the named painter.

Mettlach tower mark

The following picture briefly explains the most important symbols when using the tower mark.They are applied either on the ground (in pitcher, vase, punch ...) or on the back (wall plaques) and are also used in the Merkur brand.

Tower icons

The form number is either 3 or 4 digits shown as Arabic numberals and usually found in the former published Villeroy & Boch catalogs. Goldmark

The year of manufacture is stamped in the right area of ​​the brand and is usually 2 digits. Only for a short period of time the month was prefixed as 2-digits (in sum then 4 digits). This type of dating can be found both in articles with the tower and Merkur marks.

If the decoration of a pitcher had gold painting , the number of the gold painter was usually written in gold lettering on the stein bottom (see picture on the right). These painter numbers also exist in other font colors.

In most cases, the tower mark was the version that was used from 1885 to 1930 with an embossed banner. Actually, there are 2 different marks, the tower mark and the banner.

Over the years Villeroy & Boch has used many variations of this tower mark, which differ in the shape of the Old Tower and the size of the banner.

It is said that one wanted to specify the work of the individual potters with their different product representation, but this is not proven.

Even today, the tower mark is still in use, but differs significantly from the former (old) form.

Presentation of stamped years

Rectangle by year From 1883 to 1887 , the year of manufactoring on the buttom (2-digits, only the year) were framed with a rectangle (see the picture left).

From 1888 this rectangle fell away and only the 2-digit number was used. For example, 95 means the year 1895 and 00 the year 1900 .

Determination of the production beginning of a Mettlach ceramic by using the mold number

If Mettlach articles were sold well, they usually were a very long time (often several decades) in the production program.

Robert D. Wilson of the United States (also known as "the Mettlachman ") has generated a formula that allows us to roughly determine the production beginning of a Mettlach item , that means the year the product was first produced in the factory.

Formula : F + 1 / 3F + 65 (where F = (mold number / 100))

Example :

  • the form number 1200 gives -> 12 + 1/3 * 12 + 65 = 16 + 65 = 81 and thus the year of origin 1881
  • the form number 3088 gives -> 31 (rounded up) + 1/3 * 30 + 65 = 41 + 65 = 1906


A special dating system with points was often used in the Mercury marks..

This is somewhat complicated and therefore requires a more detailed explanation below. There exists more than 30 variations rom the Merkur marks. This dating system was used from 1874 to about 1909 and was mainly on PUG products, mostly stamped in the colors green (often), brown, blue or black. Often, these marks were not covered by a glaze, so that these were very illegible over time. After 1909 , this dating principle was no longer used in the company.

Mettlach Mercury mark

Under the so-called scrollwork banner with the inscription " Villeroy & Boch " of the Merkur mark are 2 semicircles (there should also exist some with 4 semicircles) in which the name " Mettlach " is stamped in an arched way (other Villeroy & Boch factories have other city names ). This is followed by a jagged semicircle, which is occupied by 10-13 points.

And these are the points that builds the code for dating, which I'll explain in more detail below:

Merkur mark without code dating

If a Mercury mark contains more than 10 points below the jagged bow or something else is listed instead of the dots (e.g. the copyright "Geschützt" or "Gesetzlich Geschützt" or (for the export products) "Reg. US Pat. Off."), Then the mark does not encode a date.

Merkur mark with code dating

The following descriptions describes the rule of application of this encoding. But I also know cases in which an assignment is not possible or even the code dating does not match the additionally imprinted 2-digit year.

  • Dating from 1870 to 1889 with the 13 prong system: If there are less than or equal to 10 points, but 13 prongs, you should add the number of existing points to the year 1870 to get the year of production. If some prongs and points are missing, then points 1 to 9, read from the right, mean the year 1881 - 1889.
  • Dating from 1890 to 1909 with the 10 prong system: If all 10 prongs have a point, it means the years 1890 or 1900 (indistinguishable). Otherwise, the points usually read from right to left means the years 1891 to 1899 and read from left to right 1901 to 1909 . But there are also exceptions to this rule. Guess that these were just application errors, as they are relatively rare. For 1910 there is no coded Merkur mark.


Merkur mark from 1921-1956

From 1921 to 1935, the Merkur mark generally included the addition " Made in Saar-Basin ". This takes into account the special status of the "Saar domain" after the First World War, which was separated from the "German Reich" from 1920-1935 and was under the sovereignty of the League of Nations (see also Versailles Treaty Articles 45-50).

After the Second World War, the addition was changed again. The addition was then "Made in France-Saar - Economic Union" or "Frabriqué en Sarre" from 1947-1956, since the "Saar domain (and thus Mettlach)" was under the administration the French government up to the "Saar Statut" .

Mettlach decor numbers

Based on the used decor numbers it is possible to draw conclusions regarding the period or year of first use on Mettlach products . Because also these were numbered consecutively (like the form numbers).

The smaller the number for the assigned decor in a 1000 interval (1-999, 1000-1999, etc.) is, the older it should have been concerning its use in production (so my theory). How long the decors were then really used, I can only examine in the future with the help of other items.

In the following I have roughly listed the assignment of decor number intervals to the probable period / year of initial use. The list is not complete and certainly still in need of improvement!

Decor numbers 80-565 -> 1881-1910

Decor numbers 566-736 -> 1886-1893

Decor numbers 737-940 -> 1893-1894 (series with military motives)

Decor numbers 941-16xx -> 1895-1931

Decor numbers 5000-5444 -> 1893-1908

Decor numbers 6000-6087 -> 1895-1912

Decor numbers 6100-6149 -> 1902 (used on Rookwood products)

Decor numbers 7200-7202 -> 1909

Decor numbers 8000-8033 -> 1909-1910

Decor numbers 9000-9044 -> 1910-1911

Faenza -> ~ 1912 (no decor numbers were used but gave the articles names)

Coding system of the Merkur mark at Villeroy & Boch Wallerfangen (Vaudrevange) from 1881-1889

Although this web-book deals exclusively with the Mettlach ceramics, I would nevertheless like to mention briefly the Merkur mark used in the Villeroy & Boch production plant in Wallerfangen.

This was used from 1876 in Wallerfangen and was executed until 1893 in black color . Then it was used by order of Wallerfangen Director Richard just only in brown color .

The Wallerfangen Merkur mark has 13 points in its maximum characteristic.

If the stamp has between 10 and 13 points, then no year number is readable and one can determine the ceramics only (by using further characteristics) between 1876 and 1931.

For the period from 1881 to 1889 and less than ten spikes , one can notice a certain systematics in the arrangement of the spikes when using the stamp.

If the stamp has, for example, 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 points ( odd number ), these are arranged in the middle of the stamp semicircle . If the number of points is even (2. 4. 6 or 8), the points are placed to the right and left of the semicircle .

I have listed 2 examples in the following pictures.

The following are examples of some Mettlacher marks with dating code or stamped year listed.

Merkurmarke mit Datierung

The following are examples of some Wallerfangener marks listed with dating code.

Stamp WallerfangenStamp Wallerfangen 1

Other used Mettlacher relief, embossing and stamps (please click on the symbol to enlarge)


1. Stein Collectors International: The Essential Mettlach Marks by Walt Vogdes, page 1-3

2. Gary Kirsner: The Mettlach Book, fourth edition 2005, pages 16-27, pages 36-37

3. Mettlacher Turm (Issue March 1986 / No.29): Club magazine of the Mettlacher Steinzeugsammler Verein, Article: Robert D. Wilson: Mettlacher objects dated with year and month

4. Wallerfangen earthenware : History and products of the manufactory Villeroy / Vaudrevange (1791-1836) and the earthenware factory Villeroy & Boch Wallerfange (1836-1931), by Beatrix Adler, 1999

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