Please pay careful attention to my guide ratings! You'll notice the number of unhappy sellers that are attempting to trash my ratings because the information contained here calls attention to their shady business practices. Keep those negatives coming!
For those of you honest people, I hope that this information helps you and that you will give me that acknowledgement.
The market is flooded with fake and reproduction Nippon items being pawned off as authentic. Before buying on ebay or anywhere, you should know what to look for so you don't fall victim to uneducated sellers or those that know darn right well that their item is not "the real deal". You should try to aquaint yourself to the quality of an authentic Nippon piece as well as to the authentic backstamps. You should also study the known fakes and reproductions (their patterns and backstamps).
Most of the fake marks started showing up in the late 1970s and 1980s and are still used today. The majority of the repro/fakes are being manufactured by and imported from China and Japan. Much of the gilding on the fakes is "burnished" gold, while an authentic piece will have a more true gold color to the gilding and you will see at least a little gold wear. Following are examples of fake and authentic marks.
Fake Hour Glass Mark/Green or Red Fake K mark
Just plain ole' fake Nippon marks. Found on Chinese made plates, trinket boxes, shoes and Coffee/Chocolate Sets.
Fake Maple Leaf Mark Real Maple Leaf Mark
Fake usually in bright green or blue; sometimes missing the word Nippon. Fake mark leaf is 1/2 inch. Authentic mark leaf is 1/4 inch. Lettering and shape is quite different as well.
Fake "M in Wreath" mark Real "M in Wreath" mark
Most fake "M in Wreath" marks are a bright green but are also found in other colors. The mark is larger than the authentic mark and usually sports a rounded "stem" on the bottom rather than the protruding, squared off stem. There are also two other fake "M in Wreath" marks; each is messy looking and muddy and generally in the bright green color, some missing the stem altogether. The real marks are not found in the bright green color. Authentic "M in Wreath" marks (M is for Morimura Brothers) are found in a deeper green, maroon and blue.
Fake Rising Sun Mark Real Rising Sun Mark
There are two other fake Rising Sun Marks, one has the "uncolored in" sun with Nippon above it; the other has the "uncolored in" sun with 6 to 8 "rays" protruding from the sun. The fake marks are generally found in the bright green color. The authentic mark is found in the color shown.
There are many more fake marks to look out for as well. Many items that is flooding the market right now have the fake IMPERIAL NIPPON mark which is simply printed as shown on the bottoms of the items. Of course this item comes to our country with a Made in Japan or Made in China sticker which, unfortunately, can be easily removed by unscrupulous sellers who will try to pass of these items as authentic.
There are so many fakes on the market, that buyers should really get educated and ASK QUESTIONS before you buy. If you are looking at an item on ebay proclaiming to be Nippon, make sure there is a clear mark shown in the listing. If not, ask for a clear photo or scan. Some sellers don't post a photo intentionally. Others show the mark and state "It is marked Nippon" or "has the Nippon mark" when it is clearly a fake. If you purchase at auctions, "antique shops" or from "little old ladies", don't rely on what they "say" the piece is; make sure of the authenticity. I can't tell you how many ebay sellers have told me that "the auctioneer said, the lady said or the shop owner said" when I have sent them the info regarding the fakes that they had listed. Of course, its too late and they know they were duped.
See Part II of Fake and Reproduction Nippon for Photos of actual fake items to steer clear from!!! Good luck to you!