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Identifying Royal Copenhagen & Other Danish Factory Seconds

Aluminia (Royal Copenahgen) Factory Second Marking

Identifying Royal Copenhagen & Other Danish Factory Seconds

It is important to know if you are spending a lot of money on a piece of Royal Copenhagen if it is a factory FIRST, or factory SECOND as often the appearance of the piece will often give no indication of it being a second. Any pieces coming out of the Royal Copenhagen (and Alumina) factories which did not meet the standard for perfection are marked as “seconds”.

This was done by etching a very fine short line, through the 3 Royal Copenhagen lines with a diamond cuter. A second mark will usually mean that the piece is worth less depending on the rarity and popularity of the piece, as seconds were sold at a 25-30% discount at the factory shop.

The pieces I come across most often marked as seconds are those from the 1950s and 1960s from the Tenera and Baca series under the direction of Nils Thorsson. Some designs in these series were inconsistent in how they fired in the kiln – and if too far from the desired look, they were marked as seconds and sold in the factory outlets. In other cases pieces could be marked as seconds because of tiny firing cracks (figurines mainly) or other small faults. However sometimes there seems to be nothing at all to indicate why it is a second.

Often this marking is invisible to the naked eye unless it catches the light, so with every piece of Royal Copenhagen it is best to run a finger over the back stamp, and you will feel immediately if the piece has been marked as second quality.  Sometimes the fault is visible, sometimes not.

The second marks are very hard to photograph because they are usually so fine – but you should be able to make them out in the images below:

Royal Copenhagen Second Mark

Royal Copenhagen Second Mark – you can just make it out across the centre of the 3 RC waves.

Aluminia (Royal Copenahgen) Factory Second Marking

Aluminia (Royal Copenhagen) Factory Second Marking – just visible through the centre of the 3 waves.

Many people do not realise that not only Royal Copenhagen marked their second quality items. Soholm Pottery on Bornholm for example also marked their second quality items – with quite strong scratched or etched lines on the base of the product. Usually the flaws on a Soholm piece are easier to detect than with Royal Copenhagen seconds. This practice doesn’t seem to have been consistently applied though – as I often come across pieces with obvious glaze flaws which aren’t marked as seconds.

Soholm Denmark, Factory Second Marking

Soholm Denmark, Factory Second Marking – you can clearly see the lines through the Einar Johansen cypher here.

If you are interested in what all the other marks on the backstamp of a Royal Copenhagen pieces actually mean, including how to date when they were made – then go to the official Royal Copenhagen website, or for even further explanation there is another valuable resource at ( I have not put links as pages can often change location)

Other Danish makers I have come across who marked factory or studio seconds in this manner are Palshus and Dansk Designs

Palshus Denmark - Studio Second Mark

Palshus Denmark – Studio Second Mark (right hand side of base on the photo)

Dansk "Flamestone" Sugar Bowl

Dansk “Flamestone” Sugar Bowl with a factory second mark on the base (left hand side of photo – 2 short lines)

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  1. Carmen King #

    Hi, I have a polar bear figurine bearing the three blue wavy lines, the word Danmark (hard to read) and the initials OP. I have not found that mark anywhere. Any ideas?


    August 23, 2020
    • Ray #

      The 3 lines are the Royal Copenhagen mark which is often hand-painted on “art ware” , but I dont know the OP initials sorry. The polar bears were a very popular series, and there are a lot of images on line – maybe do a google image search, and see if you can match the Polar bear you have to its artist.


      August 23, 2020
  2. Marion #

    I have the mermaid has the royal stamp and three wavy is numbered Y356 and the initial Ry


    January 21, 2022

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