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French ceramists and businessmen founded the majority of these factories, but it took an American to make Limoges an international household name. market, and over the years the various firms that have used the Haviland name produced more than 20,000 patterns of china and dinnerware.
In 1842, a New Yorker named David Haviland built a factory in Limoges that would become the most famous Limoges brand of them all. In 1880, one of those Haviland patterns led to a commission from the White House, which boosted the firm’s growing reputation.
By the 19th century, Limoges was so popular in Victorian England that so-called Limoges ware was being made in Worcester.
But this sort of cross-fertilization was not the mere plagiarism that it might at first seem. Later, in the 20th century, the Japanese porcelain manufacturer Noritake would base many of its designs on those made by companies based in Limoges a century earlier.
Even though the word Limoges is synonymous with fine bone china, it was not until the late 18th century that the chief ingredient for porcelain, a mineral called kaolin, was discovered in the nearby town of Saint-Yrieix.
In 1771, the brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet established the first Limoges porcelain factory.
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At one time there were just under fifty china factories operating in Limoges.By the beginning of the 1800s, the porcelain industry was no longer under control of the Royal family.Private factories began producing Limoges china and their pieces were highly desired both in Europe and America.One of the most well known manufacturers of Limoges china is Haviland China.Although the company was originally founded in 1841 by David Haviland, there were actually four different Haviland companies that manufactured the beautiful translucent dinnerware.