Mysteries

Is this counterfeit Mauviel? (Solved: False alarm.)

VFC

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I suspect so, but I’m not sure. Update: I think it’s genuine.

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Reader Zoë sent me photos from a listing on a second-hand website in Asia for a set of Mauviel M’150S — steel-lined cookware with stainless steel handles. Please take a good look.

 Photo 1: Stewpot

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Photo 2: Saucepan

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Photo 3: Skillet

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Photo 4: Sauté pan

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Photo 5: Group photo

Is this counterfeit Mauviel?

Zoë thinks the steel-lined pieces are not steel-lined copper but instead copper-plated steel, and I think she might be right.


Update, 23 September: These aren’t faux M’150S but rather mischaracterized Mauviel for Williams-Sonoma tri-ply. I didn’t recognize them as such because I’m focused on vintage copper and I don’t track Mauviel’s current product lines.

Williams-Sonoma has always commissioned “exclusive” lines from Mauviel, usually minor modifications to existing products. In this case, Williams-Sonoma’s “Mauviel copper triply cookware” is steel, aluminum, and copper, essentially Mauviel’s M’Urban tri-ply stainless line with an outer layer of copper instead of steel. That’s why the rim looks to be all silver — the copper is just .5mm thick, the inverse of M’150.

But the difference between tri-ply and M’150S is more than structural: there’s a big price gap as well. According to current Williams-Sonoma pricing, tri-ply retails for 30% less than M’150S. A screaming deal on M’150 that happens to be tri-ply instead may not be as deep a discount as it seems (not to mention that you’re not getting actual M’150!).

The lesson for me? I need to do more research before jumping to conclusions. I’m leaving this post up in the spirit of transparency and as a reminder to myself to do my homework. But my embarrassment is tinged with a hint of reassurance to learn that the packaging and inserts are not unnervingly convincing counterfeits after all. My thanks to eagle-eyed readers who recognized the same discrepancies as I did, and my apologies to all for raising the alarm!


The immediate red flag for me is the rim of each pan. Mauviel M’150 pans are composed of 1.3mm of copper bonded to .2mm of steel, so the rim of an M’150 pan is roughly 85% copper and 15% steel. If you haven’t already, look closely at the rim of each pan above. They are mostly steel with a very narrow outer band of copper. This cross-section suggests to me that the pans above are at least 90% steel. (It’s worth noting that these are straight-lip pans so they could not be mislabeled Mauviel M’6S multi-ply.)

A second red flag is the word “Mauviel” on the handle of the stewpot in photo 5. Look closely — the typeface does not look like the correct Mauviel style to me.

And a third red flag is the lack of copper stamps. I believe Mauviel M’150 of this era should also have a “Mauviel 1830” stamp in the copper to the left of the handle, but I can’t see any stamps at all.

Zoë kindly agreed to share this with all of you to get your opinion. What do you think?


Val Maguire at Southwest Hand Tinning sent me two helpful photos: a close-up photo of a genuine “Mauviel 1830” stainless steel handle baseplate, and the “Mauviel 1830” stamp. Take a look. Photo 5 above doesn’t provide a clear view but I still think the stewpot baseplate looks funny. It could be a trick of perspective or a reflection, though. But I still don’t see stamps on any of the pieces. Val pointed out that the Mauviel stamp is quite finely detailed and might be difficult to counterfeit properly.

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19 Comments

  1. It sure does look like either copper plated steel or a bi-metal sheet with a very thin copper layer. In any case i don’t think this thin copper layer would add much to the thermal properties of the pans and stainless steel by itself is not known for outstanding thermal properties as found in copper. Is it possible the bottoms of the pans have a metal sandwich construction to improve cooking properties? Maybe this is a new line of cookware coming from Mauviel?

  2. The stainless steel looks very shiny and lightly ribbed on these examples, Mauviel stainless tend to be more of a satin texture rather than so ‘bold and brash.’ The hilts are not as flush as I would expect and I totally agree about the font, the stainless/copper ratio too. (Good work VFC.) Anyone would be taken in by these, completely. Recently, I was approached by a manufacturer in India (spam on Etsy) saying he could manufacture anything we wanted and showed some Mauviel pans as an example – so we are right to be on our guard! It would be interesting to get the weights of the pans too for a comparison to actual Mauviel? Best FC

    1. Hey Fid — Credit goes to Zoe, the reader who spotted these in the wild. She had immediate doubts when she saw them and I think she is correct.

      What makes me worry is the packaging — I don’t have recent M’150 to compare it to, but it looks very convincing. Notice the waxed paper bags! I wonder if the product inserts are straight copies as well, down to the “inspected by…” paper slip. If these are indeed counterfeit, there seems to be a great deal of effort made to replicate the packaging. Is there that much profit to be made in this business?

      The sugar pan boxes have a product sticker with M’Passion and “Made in France for Williams-Sonoma.” Could these be legitimate pieces?

      1. The market is enormous for good quality Mauviel at the moment, many shops in the US have had record sales over the past months. Yes the packaging is exceptionally good – the boxes are identical to ones I have seen. There are a couple of items on Etsy at the moment with the packaging showing the same bags and box. They may be genuine but I don’t think that the stainless and copper is right. Difficult without getting your hands on them!

  3. Nothing escapes the eagle eyes of VFC. Every argument is 100% convincing. I think it is highly unlikely that Mauviel will launch a cheap series that offers a wafer-thin outer copper coating as a visual incentive to buy. Other manufacturers do that, but they don’t have a reputation like Mauviel to lose either. If the set is offered as the Mauviel M’150S, I consider it a fake.

    1. Zoe said that the listing claimed they are Mauviel M’150S, but sellers can make honest mistakes. But I haven’t yet been able to find a Mauviel product line that is majority steel with only a cosmetic outer layer of copper.

      1. And to add to that thought — I wonder if that’s why they’re not stamped. Perhaps the copper layer is so thin that it won’t take the stamp properly!

  4. Nestling them in the wrapping paper to obscure the handle attachments and the bases is a bit suspicious. The skillet looks like new spun aluminium to me.

  5. The packaging looks like a very good copy. But that is no problem at all for counterfeiters these days and can be produced cheaply in Asia. The market is full of fakes, especially with more luxurious products (high-priced branded clothing, perfumes …). Some buyers buy these goods knowing that they are counterfeit, only to be able to show the label on clothing or shoes. Turkey, for example, is a paradise for such buyers.
    Simple solution to the riddle: Send the photos and the link of the shop to Mauviel. Their legal department will be happy (or not about the work).

  6. Many well-known brands in the USA and EU have many parts of their products manufactured in Asia for reasons of cost. The know-how is therefore available in these countries. These skills in production can also be misused.

  7. An opposite hypothesis: Some manufacturers of premium cars have their cars re-designed exclusively for the Chinese market, as the Chinese have a penchant for “baroque” sparkling details. It is also conceivable that Mauviel will produce a special series for the Asian market that is neither listed on the website designed for the EU-US market, nor offered in this market segment.

    But again, only Mauviel knows the solution to the riddle.

  8. Nice detective work VFC! I think the mystery is solved. There are other triply copper pans offered by Mauviel but they have the beveled pouring edges.

  9. Congratulations,VFC!

    As an EU citizen, I am not even allowed to see the aforementioned website.

    “PAGE IS NOT AVAILABLE IN YOUR REGION
    TO OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS,
    We regret that due to technical challenges caused by new regulations in Europe, we can for the time being no longer accept orders from the European Union…..”

    1. Sorry, Martin! I forget that Williams-Sonoma hasn’t adopted GDPR and so they block their website in the EU. Take a look at this eBay item instead:

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mauviel-Triply-1-75-Quart-Copper-Saucepan-with-Stainless-Steel-Handle-PLUS-Lid/273954513158

      The seller has a couple other pieces from the same line so you can see them as well.

      Martin, it was your comment about special production lines that made me remember that Mauviel has produced a variety of “exclusive” custom copper lines for Williams-Sonoma. I took a look at the W-S site and their “exclusive Mauviel triply” is steel lining/aluminum core/.5mm copper exterior. It looks similar to Mauviel’s M’Urban 3 but with a copper exterior and a flat-cut rim instead of a pouring lip.

      I’d like to hear from a couple more readers but I’m inclined to think this is a seller mis-labeling a set of W-S tri-ply as M’150S. An honest mistake perhaps, but there is a significant price differential to consider: the W-S tri-ply 9.5 inch saute pan retails for $270, while the equivalent M’150B retails for $400.

      What do you guys think?

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