Shelley and Wileman Backstamps

The study of backstamps is a science in and of itself, and only the brave have dared to venture into this impenetrable thicket of marks, numbers, and names.

By way of background, Wileman & Company was formed in 1872 to run the Foley China Works (replaced J. F. Wileman), and a variety of backstamps were used over the years. In 1894 Wileman began earthenware production in a new earthenware works. Wares produced in the new works were labelled with unique backstamps. Beginning in 1910, the Shelley backstamp replaced Wileman and Co. backstamps.

Backstamps are often the first thing a collector looks for. Although a backstamp may be an indicator of authenticity, the backstamp alone is insufficient to guarantee genuineness. Counterfeit backstamps have been applied to ordinary pottery, and in some cases transfers have been applied to bona fide Shelley whiteware. To complicate matters, some genuine Shelley pieces have no backstamp at all, for example salt and pepper shakers.

Special thanks are owing to Mr. Bruce Sandie and the Australasian club for their generous assistance in providing research and artwork necessary to the creation of this page.

The UK Club has an extensive discussion of backstamps which they have shared with us.  This page shows many of the known backstamps which were used by the Wileman family potteries to include predecessor companies such as Elkin Knight:

Fine China Backstamps

Set forth below are some of the most common backstamps used on Fine Bone China and miniatures.


Wileman 1872-1880


Wileman 1880-1882


Wileman 1883

1884 Wileman 1884

Wileman 1884-1895

(rarely used up to 1900)

wileman 1872-1890

Wileman 1890 - 1891

Variations may omit "England" or include "Made in England"

Wileman 1890-1910

Wileman 1894-1910


Variations include "The Foley"

The Foley


on some china

Shelley Late Foley Shelley 1910 - 1916
Shelley 1910-1925 Shelley 1910 - 1925
Shelley 1910 var

Shelley 1910 - 1925

Variation of above

Shelley old sevres

Shelley 1910 - 1925

Variation of above for Old Sevres pattern

Shelley heraldic

Shelley 1910 - 1945

Used on heraldic miniatures

Shelley 1925-45 Shelley 1925 - 1945
Shelley 1945-66 Shelley 1945 - 1966
Shelley Mini Shelley Miniatures - 1950's

As noted, many variations of the above exist, usually occurring when Shelley or Wileman added a particular pattern name and/or number to the backstamp. In addition, earlier Wileman and the forerunners to Wileman employed numerous other backstamps. For further information, you are encouraged to visit either the Australian site at or the UK site at

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Earthenware Backstamps

Earthenware was manufactured by Wileman from 1894 to 1910. Backstamps typically indicated the method of decoration (see glossary for definitions and additional information). After 1910, earthenware was labeled with Shelley backstamps.



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Diamond Mark Registration

The earliest backstamps use the diamond mark registration system. These cryptic marks require decoding in orde1800-82r to determine the manufacturer. The mark to the right would be parsed as follows:

Class: Class IV - Pottery

Day: 18th Day of the month

Parcel Number: 5 - Fifth parcel filed on date specified identifies manufacturer

Year Code: L translates to 1882

Month Code: G translates to February


Registration Numbers

1884-1895In the late 1800's the Diamond Mark System was replaced with Registration Numbers. Early Shelley and Wileman pieces often displayed the registered number rather than a pattern number.  A registered number was allocated to Wileman/Shelley for each design submitted to the UK Patents Office. The number is usually six digits long but can be less. It is normally preceded by 'Rd'.  The numbers are recorded in the Official Journal of Patents which is available at the Public Records Office at Kew, London, United Kingdom.

The UK club has produced a list of known registered numbers for the Wileman and Shelley Companies which may be found here: The UK site also includes a downloadable excel file current as of June 2016.


Shape Letters

Collectors will note that the pattern number on an item of china may be preceded by a letter. This letter signifies the shape of that china.   Some letters were used for more than one shape, (although not at the same time), and many shapes were not given a letter at all.  The UK club has published a list of known letters here:

Shown below is a Regent Trio and its backstamp which shows the "W" shape designation for the Regent shape preceding the pattern number (12521) and, below that, the Registration Number (781613) associated with the Regent shape. The backstamp may be enlarged by clicking on the image.









Alphabetic Production Codes

In the early 1960’s Shelley Potteries began a system to date their wares. For china produced in 1962 and 1963, the letter “A” was placed under the word “England” on the backstamp. For 1964 and 1965, the letter “B” was used. The Shelley company was taken over by Allied English Potteries in 1966 and thus no further letters were used. This system was not used consistently during 1962-65; thus not all china produced in these years bears either the A or B.










Seconds Ware

Seconds Ware is uniformly identified as having a pattern number in the 2000 range. Occasionally, however, Seconds Ware was also marked with a circled number two enclosed in a fashion very similar to the present copyright symbol. Click on image below for enlarged view.

2nds mark

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