Incised or Impressed Mark Example

Markings found on pottery and porcelain help identification and dating

Incised Pottery Mark of the Lorelei Vase by Van Briggle Pottery

Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0] 

Incised, also known as impressed, marks are figures or letters carved by hand or stamped by machine into the surface of an object. The term in the antiques and collectibles realm usually refers to a mark on the bottom of a piece of pottery or porcelain stamped so that there is a visible indention in the earthenware or ceramic material.

Sometimes manufacturers used this type of mark to identify their products, as with the elaborately hand incised Van Briggle logo with date beneath shown here. Many different manufacturers used incised marks at one time or another, however. Other times incised marks may simply be a series of letters or numbers, like the datemarks found on Spode bone china pieces, and they may be used in conjunction with another type of mark.

In some instances the term “engraved” has been used to describe an incised mark, although that description is more common (and accurate) with metal products such as sterling silver rather than earthenware and ceramics.