Fake Nippon first appeared on the market in the early 1980's. The early reproductions were poorly decorated and had fake back stamps which could easily be differentiated from the authentic back stamps by knowledgeable collectors. However, many novice Nippon collectors were fooled by these pieces and unknowingly added these "fakes" to their collections.
Over time the companies making these fake pieces have perfected the M-in-wreath back stamp. It is impossible to tell the authentic back stamp from this new fake! Additionally, other authentic back stamps such as the Maple Leaf and Rising Sun were also being used on fake pieces. While these fake back stamps were slightly different from the authentic back stamps and definitely not as perfect as the M-in-wreath fake back stamp, they could fool collectors.
Recently, thanks to the efforts of the Noritake Company, U.S. Customs has ruled that the fake M-in-wreath mark is counterfeit and not allowed for importation into the United States. Because of this ruling, wholesalers, for the time being, have stopped marking their fake Nippon with the Noritake Company back stamps (including the Maple Leaf, Rising Sun, and RC marks). Fake Nippon is now being sold 'unsigned'; that is, with no back stamp. The items come into the United States with a paper label identifying the country it was made in. Of course, the paper label is easily removed leaving the item 'unsigned.'
In addition to changes in the back stamps, the actual mold style and decoration of the fake Nippon has been improving. In fact some of the newer fakes are being copied from original patterns used during the Nippon era, making them reproductions not fakes. The quality of these reproductions, while much improved over past fakes, is still not quite right and the feel of the porcelain is wrong. However, the overall quality of these reproductions is getting better all of the time and it's imperative for collectors to be aware of this. The photos below show both an authentic Nippon cracker jar and the reproduction, unsigned counterpart.
Actual photos of many Nippon fakes, reproductions, and fantasy items are shown in the next several pages. Take time to recognize both the shape of the item and the decoration. Many times a particular decoration is used on a number of different pieces. For example, the decoration on the pieces pictured below (left) also shows up on a wall pocket, a bowl, candlesticks and various dresser items.