The WL1895-mark was the first really obscure mark I encountered after starting to develop my interest in porcelain back in 2003. Some of the items offered were very high-priced and most of them came with a peculiar background story, most of them actually mentioning the William Lowe Pottery that existed long ago in England and was claimed to be the manufacturer of these products. All pictures of the mark I encountered showed it perfectly stamped and colored, something that was impossible to achieve during the claimed production period and which also contradicted with the coloring and overall design of these items. To cut a long story short: I was soon convinced that these 'antiques' were actually modern decoration items made in China. Proof followed in form of the discovery of items with original 'Made in China' stickers and finding out who actually imported these items (in Europe).
After publishing my initial findings in various forums, I was offered an explanation by a fellow that told me that the mark represented a subsidiary of the Wong Lee International Co., the Wong Lee Productions Co., which was claimed to have been founded in 1995 and started to export around 1999. So far I was told, the date '1895' was chosen in commemoration of the end of the war between Japan and China exactly 100 years before the Wong Lee Productions Co. was founded. However, that background was far from flawless as I learned later: 'Wong Lee' is as common as 'John Smith' and a Wong Lee International Co. company was actually established in 1976, not being related with the Wong Lee Productions Co. at all. In addition, a few people mentioned it could rather be either 'Wa Lee' or 'Wah Lee' (depending on who actually translated it from Chinese); those folks also often tried to link the mark to Wa Lee Pottery, which never made such items and on top of that had already closed around 1968.
In the meantime, my claims had caused quite a stir and a bunch of people (mostly sellers) of course tried to defend their 'antiques' tale by stating that my proof only existed in my twisted mind. However, people not so easily convinced had started to check my findings and were eventually able to verify my claims, also coming up with freshly imported WL1895-marked objects carrying 'Made in China' stickers or even having impressed Chinese additions.
Shortly before that however, a guy named Bob Hudson published an article on his homepage and started to take apart my Wong Lee theory, making a blazing effort to bring up the claimed manufacturers William Lowe and his partner John Tams in line with the reproductions. He went through quite a stretch trying to prove that the 'pro-Wong-Lee' faction and especially myself were completely wrong and at one point I even asked myself which repro factory was actually paying him, especially after items had been discovered that obviously were made to reflect periods which Lowe and Tams could never have witnessed (e.g. Art Deco vases). Needless to say, he eventually had to pull back after himself finding out what I had been pointing out all the time ...
Thanks to some extremely helpful and observant eBay 'Pottery, Glass & Porcelain' board members I was able to inform many people about my findings and many regulars took it into their own hands and informed other websites about the truth behind the WL1895 mark. I will gladly admit that my initial background findings (and the way I published them) were far from perfect, but what really counts is that these items are not antique, no matter what somebody tries to tell you. The facts remain: WL1895 items are not William Lowe antiques but modern decorational items made in China.
As final note I may add that Mr. George H.M.J. Mulders informed me in August 2009 that identical bronze/ceramic items formerly sold with the WL1895 mark were being offered under a different brand (⇒JBT1906), this time imported and distributed by a certain company from the Netherlands.
The last image shown below reads 'AM' instead of 'WL', but uses the same crown, wreath and typeface and is therefore shown on this page. There are various slightly altered versions of this mark form around, for example there is a ⇒GM1898 form which consists of a slightly altered crown, shield and laurel wreath.
(Picture by Ghislain Fichot)
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