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What's the difference between china, porcelain and bone china? Plus some rare vintage Noritake china from Japan!

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So, someone asked me the difference between porcelain and china this week and I thought it'd make an interesting blog post for those of you looking to learn more about the wonderful world of vintage china dinner sets. That plus it gives me a chance to show off a really cool, collectibly rare, Noritake china dinner set made in occupied Japan in the 1940's that we just found.

Ceramics is the broadest term typically used for anything relating to the art of baking with clay. China is on the finer end of the ceramics spectrum and while delicate in appearance is strong and chip resistant due to the high temperature it is fired at. 

The main difference between china and porcelain is the temperature it is fired at...china is typically fired at around 2200 degrees Fahrenheit whereas porcelain is fired at a higher temperature around 2650 degrees Fahrenheit, making it stronger and more durable. The term 'china' comes from its country of origin and the term 'porcelain' comes from the Latin word 'porcella' meaning seashell used to describe its lustrous smooth white appearance. The term 'china' is often favored in the US whereas the term 'porcelain' is more prevalent in Europe.

China is a chemical combination of clay, kaolin (a type of clay), feldspar and quartz. Originating in China the earliest porcelains were made with kaolin and pegmatite (a type of granite). European producers started adding finely ground glass to the clay and in the early 1700's German manufacturers added feldspar instead of glass and that has continued to this day.

Bone china is china/porcelain with the added ingredient of bone ash (ground animal bones), giving the product a more translucent creamy/milky white color. Bone china undergoes two firing processes and has a warmer color tone than the finer white color tone of china. Bone china product tends to be thinner and with a smoother glaze than porcelain/china. While bone china looks softer than china it's actually less brittle and more resilient due to the bone ash content. Ivory china or ivory bone china is another variant with an ivory coloring added to the mixture for a warmer color tone.

We have a lot of China and porcelain in stock here at Cabootle, many pieces are sold before they hit the website so if you're looking for sets of china please get in touch with our concierge. Our vintage4design arm sells to designers and rental houses so if you're looking for a larger sized set give us a call.

The lovely piece shown below is a new arrival for us and vintage Noritake fine china dinnerware at its most glorious! This set is highly collectible and as you'll see from the 'Noritake Made In Occupied Japan' mark on the back, this was a mark Noritake only ran for 2 years back in the 1940s. We purchased this set at a recent estate sale and were told that it had been purchased from the President of the Occupied Japan Collector's Club in 1987. The set includes 12 dinner plates (10" diameter) and 11 salad plates (7.5" diameter) all a deep ruby color with a wonderful gold trim, featuring a pink floral spray that adorn a chandelier. If you'd like to view in more detail you can see our listing and pricing here.

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