For today's collector, the ambiguities that surround Noritake and Morimura brothers can be overwhelming. The loss of extensive company records during World War II also makes some questions forever unanswerable.
A brief chronology leading to the "ROSE CHINA" back stamp follows:
In 1876, Baron Ichizaemon Morimura IV formed a trading company called Morimura Kumi (Morimura Brothers).
A visit by Ichizaemon Morimura IV to the World Fair in Paris helped shape the idea of trying to manufacture a high quality, modern, western style dinnerware for export, in Japan.
In January 1904 the "Nippon Toki Kaisha Ltd" - the forerunner to the present "Noritake Company" - was formed. The factory was located near a source of good and plentiful raw materials and in a community rich with skilled potters. The site was the small village of Noritake near Nagoya, the center of Japan's ceramic production, on the main island of Honshu. The first Japanese registry for a "Noritake" back stamp is reported as 1908 for use in Japan.
Marks with the initials "RC" ("Royal Crokery") have a special place in the Noritake production. The initials are first found in marks registered in Japan in 1908, where "RC" ("Royal Crockery") is combined with a "Yajirobe" or a mechanical balance toy. It is said to symbolize the universal problem of finding a balance in business, such as between quality and price. It is not clear how long this symbol was used but in 1911, the first marks with the famous laurel wreath were registered in Japan, as well as a series of circular marks with the "RC" drawn in an Art Noveu style.
In 1926, a back stamp with "RC" ("Royal Crockery") with a right turned laurel twig was registered in India for the India and Southeast Asian markets.
After WWI most back stamps were changed to state "Japan" or "Made in Japan".
From the company's early understanding of western taste and mass production, Noritake understood western methods of mass marketing. It is not surprising that from the late 1920's, until the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 put a most unwanted stop to normal business, "Hand Painted Imported Noritake China" was offered as a premium.
In 1941, the export offices were closed and direct export to the US was not resumed before 1948. Noritake wares from circa 1948 to 1952 may bear a number of marks including "Made in Occupied Japan" and "Occupied Japan."
In 1963, the company started to use its English name "Noritake Company Ltd."
Early Noritake china dinnerware featured the "Hand Painted Nippon" design around the familiar wreath-circled "M" for "Morimura" on the back stamp of most pieces.
"Noritake" appears on back stamps of other pieces, with either "Japan" or "Made in Japan" present on most of these.
FOR A PERIOD FOLLOWING WORLD WAR II FROM 1945 TO 1948 "NORITAKE CHINA" WAS SOLD UNDER THE LABEL "ROSE CHINA".
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SECOND WW, "NORITAKE" WAS TEMPORARILY DROPPED FROM THE MARKS AND "RC" REAPPEARED WITH "ROSE CHINA" TOGETHER WITH A PICTURE OF A ROSE AND THE WORDS "MADE IN JAPAN."
Since the quality immediately after the war was not up to the pre-war standard, Noritake preferred to save the valuable "Noritake brand" name until later. By 1947, we find the "Noritake" name used together with the "Komaru" (overcoming difficulties) symbol, sometimes over the telltale line "Made in Occupied Japan".
In 1953 the letter "N" for "Noritake" in a wreath replaced the long used "M" in a wreath. According to collectors, the number of known different "Noritake" back marks are more then 400.