Some imitations are so good that they become collectable. This is what happened to the imitations by Edmé Samson in Paris.
Edmé Samson was founded in Paris in 1845 and specialised in making replacements for valuable items of the French gentry and museums; porcelain is delicate, and of course it breaks now and then. But Edmé Samson became so good at these imitations that they eventually received the nickname "The Great Imitators".
This was not necessarily to fool anyone, but more to fill in gaps in collections that had arisen through breakage and wear. Another reason was to offer the new French bourgeoisie an affordable way to obtain pieces of top quality; this was the time after the French Revolution and there was a rising middle class who wanted to educate themselves and surround themselves with the cultural treasures that had previously only been accessible to the very wealthiest elite.
So this is how Edmé Samson came to create many items in the style of Sèvres, Meissen, Bow, Chelsea and Derby. The good Samson pieces are now highly collectable in their own right as they rival the quality of the originals, and you can often find them on the market confused with the originals.
So how can you spot an Edmé Samson piece? They are always well made - extremely well made. But often the quality of the porcelain doesn't add up to the style of the item. For instance, the two figures shown here imitate the Derby style, but Derby made them in greyish early porcelain, while these were made in hard, white, very perfect porcelain.
Another give-away is the style of painting; the Chelsea-Derby style frill vase is painted with birds that are less interesting than Chelsea birds would have been, and the colours of the decoration are paler than the very bright, fresh Chelsea colours of that time. The beautiful lilac vases are marked with the Plymouth mark. The Plymouth factory only operated from 1768 to 1770, and then the mark was still used by Bristol until 1784... but these vases are in an early 19th Century Derby style! Added to this, the flowers were painted in a Continental style; English flowers would have been softer and less formal.
So although Edmé Samson did not usually mark their items (or often they gave them well-painted imitation marks), you can usually spot them. But if you come home with what turns out to be an imitation, don't despair; these items are so incredibly well-made, and not meant to fool anyone but meant to give people the pleasure of top-quality styles and makes, that they have become collectors' items in their own right, and fetch good prices.
You can find several of these wonderful imitations here in my shop, and you can see all Edmé Samson pieces here. If you always want to see the latest additions, follow me on Instagram... I post pictures and a story every single day!
Happy weekend, and check any suspect pieces you have on your shelf! 🌸🏺🌺
This week's new treasures:
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