“Made in France”

“Made in France”

There’s more to this stamp than meets the eye.

Starting around 1960, French copper cookware began carrying “Made in France” stamped into the copper. From what I can gather, this was due to country-of-origin labeling requirements for the European Economic Community (the precursor to the EU) formed in 1957.

Some makers and stores had the word “France” already in their name or logo but others had to redesign their stamp or add a separate stamp to meet the labeling requirement. Sur La Table, for example, does not have the word France in its logo and so needed the additional origin marking on its imported copper. Mauviel, ramping up to mass production during this time, seems to have decided to stamp “Made in France” on everything, which may explain why pots stamped “Williams Sonoma France” sometimes have a separate, apparently superfluous, origin stamp.

Can these “Made in France” stamps be used to identify copper that is not stamped by its maker?

  • Part 1 is a summary of my findings: the “Made in France” stamps I have observed, their key differentiating characteristics, and a few notes on usage.
  • Part 2 is the evidence: photos of pans of known make with the corresponding Made in France stamp, and the same stamp on other unidentified pans that I think are by the same maker.

Part 1: Summary of findings

Type Notes
One line, pre-1957 "Made in France" Appears on pans from late 19th and early 20th century imported into the US.
One line, post-1957 “Made in France” Appears with a Gaillard maker stamp, but may not be exclusively Gaillard. Also possibly used by Havard.
Two-line, oval shape “Made in France” Appears with a Mauviel maker stamp. Possibly used later than the “short M” version below.
Two-line, rectangular shape, long M “Made in France” Appears with a Gaillard and Jacquotot maker stamp; possibly also used by Mauviel and other Villedieu makers.
Two-line, rectangular shape, short M “Made in France” Appears on Mauviel and Atelier du Cuivre pans from the 1990s to early 2000s.
Three-line
Made in France
Stamped by L. Lecellier
Appears with Atelier du Cuivre and L. Lecellier maker stamps.

Part 2: The evidence

One-line, pre-1957

Reader Bryan P. has shared with me two examples of pots stamped for two New York cookware stores that are most likely late 19th to early 20th century. The pots themselves are almost certainly truly French in origin; it seems possible that the stores added the stamps to make clear that the copper was imported from France and therefore especially valuable.

The “Charles C. Ruegger” stamp dates the pot to sometime between 1874 and 1929 (after which he opened Bazar Français). The housewares store Lewis & Conger was founded in 1891 and seems to have operated into the 1950s (though I haven’t yet discovered its end date). Both of these date ranges suggest that the pots were stamped well before 1957.

I have two examples. The store stamps are different but the “Made in France” portion seems strikingly (no pun intended) similar. Note the curiously curled letter r in France — it is identical on each pot. My guess is the two stores were buying from the same importer.


One-line, post-1957

“Made in France”
There is also a one-line stamp that appears on pieces that are most likely produced after 1957.

Typographically, it’s most similar to the two-line “short M” version you will see below — the point of the M goes only halfway to the baseline. However, the letter C in this stamp is boxy-looking, while the “short M” version below has a rounded C.

Update: There may be a second one-line stamp without the boxy C — see below. So far I’ve seen it on a Havard-made piece.

Examples

“Made in France”With maker stamp

So far the only maker stamp I’ve seen with this version of “Made in France” stamp is Gaillard. I believe this version of Gaillard stamp is late in the firm’s history, towards the end of its existence in the 1970s to early 1980s. But I don’t know if Gaillard still operated its factory by then. The latest confirmation I have of a Gaillard factory in Paris is 1956.


With store stamp

This stamp is pretty tiny so you may need to click into the photos and zoom in to see them. Note the boxy-looking letter C.


No maker or store stamp

These are all definitely the same stamp — note the same boxy C.


Update: I think there’s a second one-line stamp out there without the boxy C. I’ve seen it on the lid of a suspected Havard piece. I don’t have a the best quality photo of it, but here it is.

I’m going to keep an eye out for more examples.

 


“Made in France”Two-line, oval shape

There are two distinctive characteristics of this stamp:

  • Clipping/curvature of M, N, F, and E as though they were forced into an oval outline
  • Point of M descends ¾ to the baseline but does not quite touch

The key thing about this stamp is that it looks as though it has been squeezed into an oval shape. Once you know to look for this effect, this stamp becomes easy to spot. Note, however, that copper stamps are sometimes applied with uneven force that can make some letters look thinned out, so try not to mistake a careless lopsided stamp for the true Mauviel rounded stamp. When in doubt, look for the point of the M: on this stamp, it does not quite touch the baseline.

Examples

With maker stamp

I have only seen this stamp style accompanied by a Mauviel stamp. I believe these stamps were put on items for sale at the Mauviel factory store in Villedieu-les-Poêles. Note that there are two Mauviel stamp styles in this series — one with an oval cartouche, and one without.


With store stamp

This group of store stamps tells me a few things. First, the oval Crate and Barrel, Dehillerin, and Verbeelen store stamps look very similar to the oval Mauviel Villedieu stamp above; this leads me to wonder if the Mauviel factory had the store stamps made up in the same style as its own maker stamp at the time.

Second, the Sur La Table store stamp is the current Sur La Table logo, not the “SLT” monogram version that I suspect is older. This would date use of this stamp to later than the two-line short-M version you will see below.

Finally, I’ve noticed that the brass handles in use in this series all have rounded baseplates. Compare them to the spade-shaped baseplates in the rectangular version below. (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, of course, as I will keep an eye out for other examples to disprove this.)


No maker or store stamp


“Made in France”Two-line, rectangular shape, long M

This stamp is easy to confuse with the oval shape version, so here are the key things to look for.

  • No exterior clipping of letters
  • Point of the M touches the baseline

The challenge is that these stamps are often applied with unequal force, so one side of the stamp can be deeper than the other, or the outer edges can appear faint. A mis-applied stamp can make the vertical strokes of the M, N, and F fade away, which might make you think it’s the oval version above. When in doubt, look at the M: in this stamp, the center point of the M touches the baseline (“long M”), which is a key difference from the oval version.

Examples

With maker stamp

I happen to have several examples of this stamp with a maker stamp: all five of my daily-use 1980s-era Gaillard saucepans. I’m including all five of them to give you a good overview of variations in the appearance of the same stamp across multiple pans. Reader Stephen Whalen has also contributed a photo of this stamp on a Jacquotot pan with the 77 Rue Damesme address (its location sometime after WWII).

What’s slightly disconcerting to me, however, is that I found additional examples marked Villedieu. I thought Gaillard and Jacquotot were Parisian chaudronneries; how could the same stamp show up on copper marked for Villedieu? Did Gaillard and Jacquotot move production to Villedieu, at some point, or begin sourcing copper from Villedieu to be sold under their own brand, as the stores did? Or could this stamp have been in use by multiple factories?


With store stamp

I see some patterns in the manufacture of these pieces. Some of the brass-handled saucepans have a distinctive spade-shaped baseplate, while the shallow skillets use a rounded version. Perhaps this handle style is another characteristic of the factory that used this stamp.


No maker or store stamp

As above, I see more spade-shaped brass baseplates on the saucepans in this set, while the skillets have rounded baseplates.


Two-line, rectangular shape, short M

It can be tough to tell this one from the other two-line rectangular versions, so look closely for its distinctive characteristics:

  • Rectangular with no exterior clipping/curvature of letters
  • Point of the M descends ½ of the way to the baseline

This stamp can appear quite different on different pans: on some the stamp is deep and the letters are substantial, while on others the stamp was applied with less force and the letters look thin, almost engraved rather than impressed. This puzzled me for quite some time until I realized something that should be obvious: I see the thin style on stainless-steel lined pans, and the thicker style on tinned pans. I think these are identical sister stamps but applied with different force according to the material of the pan wall.

Appearance on steel-lined pan

“Made in France”

Appearance on tin-lined pan

“Made in France”

 

I see this stamp on tin-lined and steel-lined pieces stamped for Mauviel and Atelier du Cuivre. My theory is that Atelier du Cuivre was buying unfinished pot bodies from Mauviel and finishing them with their own handles and stamp. Take a look and let me know what you think in the comments.

Examples

Steel-lined pans with store stamp

These two pans have store stamps: one for Sur La Table, and the other for Queen Anne Thriftway, a chain of grocery stores in the Seattle area of Washington state. (Queen Anne Thriftway changed its name to Metropolitan Market in 2003.) The older version of the Sur La Table insignia and the window of time for the “Queen Anne Thriftway” name suggest to me that these are 1990s to early 2000s.


Steel-lined pans with no maker or store stamp

If my theory is correct, these are steel-lined pans that were finished by Mauviel or Atelier du Cuivre but not given maker’s marks.


Tin-lined pans with maker stamp

These examples are stamped for Mauviel or Atelier du Cuivre.


Tin-lined pans with no maker or store stamp


Three-line

“Made in France”

This is a fairly rare stamp. It’s easy to distinguish from the others, of course, given its typographical layout.

Examples

With maker stamp

The examples I have of this stamp are accompanied by stamps for Atelier du Cuivre and Lecellier. I believe Lecellier operated its own factory, and perhaps Atelier du Cuivre sourced copper from them for a period of time.


Conclusions

As is usually the case when I dig into an issue like this, I answer some questions while coming away with new ones. You can of course draw your own conclusions from what I present above as well as from your own experience, but I offer these ideas.

  • I’m not sure what the one-line stamp signifies. The only attribution I’ve seen is to Gaillard. I know Gaillard maintained a factory in Paris at least until 1956, so they continued to make their own copper probably into the 1960s at least.
  • The two-line oval-shaped stamp is pretty much a dead giveaway that the piece is Mauviel. This stamp is very distinctive once you know what to look for, so I am fairly confident in saying that whenever you see this stamp, it’s Mauviel.
  • I’m not sure about the two-line “long M” stamp. My examples are stamped for Gaillard, but also generically for Villedieu. It may be that these were made by Mauviel (or Multiform, a machine shop in Villedieu), stamped, and then handed over for finishing.
  • The two-line “short M” stamp is likely Mauviel or Atelier du Cuivre. The stamp can look different depending on whether it’s on a steel-lined or tin-lined piece. These pieces are likely identical in quality regardless of the maker’s mark.
  • The three-line stamp is a Villedieu stamp. I suspect it was used by Lecellier, but I am looking for more information.

I welcome any information you can contribute — let me know in the comments or by email.

18 Comments

  1. Steve, thank you! I’ll add the photos to the section. I’m very curious as to whether this means Jacquotot survived into the 1960s, or whether this stamp was added to old stock. What do you think?

  2. The question I have is, how many French makers actually *made* copper after WWII, as opposed to sourcing & re-stamping? I find it hard to believe that the elderly Jacquotot couple described in the French Kitchen Antiques post were operating a manufacturing concern. Were they buying from Mauviel and stamping their own name on it? Why didn’t they latch onto the US market like Mauviel did?

    This makes me wonder if there was a dark side to the Williams-Sonoma revolution (for lack of a better term) — if the US retail appetite for copper favored reliably high-volume producers, small houses that could not commit to volume production missed out and dwindled. If Jacquotot and Gaillard fell to sourcing from Mauviel (or another Villedieu producer), re-stamping, and then re-selling via an additional retail outlet, they would have been an extraneous middleman — the stores could make more profit going directly to Mauviel (as they did). Without a factory, a brand-only French maker would be superfluous, effectively competing with retail outlets as opposed to providing a unique product.

    This is just a crazy idea, of course, and I only wish I had some primary sources to explore it!

  3. In the pictures above under the section Two-line, rectangular shape, long M — no maker or store stamp, the 3rd picture. Do you know anything about that pot? I have a stock pot with the same hammering, lid and mark work in the same place.

  4. Hi Carl! I went back into that set of photos and added numbers to them to make sure we’re talking about the same thing. (Sheesh, there are a lot of photos in that one!) My quick guess on a pot with that look of hammering is that it’s Mauviel, but I’d have to look at the rest of the pot to be sure. Feel free to email me a photo if you like — vfc at vintagefrenchcopper dot com.

  5. That’s the one, #3. The interesting part is the wear on the mark is exactly like mine. I’ll send you pictures later. Thanks for the response!

  6. Steve, how old is this particular pan? Do you know how long this stamp was used? I’m trying to date a Jacquotot saucepan with this exact stamping. Thank you.

  7. William, if you are referring to the Rue Damesme address I am not sure exactly when Jacquotot switched from the Rue Grenelle stamp to the Rue Damesme one. Jacquotot resided at both those addresses since the 1930’s so when they switched stamps on their pans is open to conjecture. From the description of the shop visited by the Cuisinart executive around 1970 it seems at that time Jacquotot was only a shell of its former self and I have to wonder if they were even producing new pans for sale.

    1. That’s been my question too. Jacquotot, like Gaillard, seems to have been a restaurant supply enterprise with more items than just copper cookware. Could they have subsisted for a while as a wholesaler? Could they have stamped their name on other makers’ copper, like a retailer? I wish I knew more about the Rue Damesme location and for how long it was actively making copper.

  8. As the pan illustrated has the “Made In France” stamp, according to research by VFC the pan was made some time after 1957 till the time Jacquotot stopped offering new pans for sale.

    1. And as always, I feel compelled to point out that 1957 is an approximation on my part. Every copper seller I’ve asked says that “Made in France” started showing up in the 1960s; the EEC, founded 1957, imposed country-of-origin labeling requirements on member states and I’ve assumed that was the precipitating event for the addition of the stamp to French goods. If so, 1957 is the *earliest* that “Made in France” could have shown up, but realistically it could have taken a couple of years for the makers to come into compliance.

    2. Based on VFC’s field guide for Jacquotot, the full time range could be from around 1960 (or 1957) to 1990. I was just wondering if you knew the provenance of your particular Rue Damesme that came from a Paris restaurant. As VFC commented just now, I, too, wonder if they stamped their name on other makers’ copper during this period. The truth is that they’re all beautiful to my eye, but knowing this would help appraise a future purchase. Thank you both for responding on a holiday. I hope everyone is safe. What a great community this is.

      1. As Steve points out, the date of the transition from Rue de Grenelle to Rue Damesme is unclear. He says the company had the 77 Rue Damesme address in the 1930s but used Rue de Grenelle as the storefront (and stamp). I don’t know when and why they moved. I theorize in the field guide that it may have been around 1955 when Jean-Baptiste passed away and his son Alfred took over, but that is a guess. As always, I really welcome better information on this so I can make this site more accurate! (Reminds me I need to go look at that guide again and update it…)
        And I echo your gratitude for the community of copper lovers. Whether you choose to comment, email me privately, or just read and learn, you’re helping to build a healthy vintage copper market and that is a great thing. Thank you.

  9. William, when I purchased this pan from a French seller (actually a pair of these wonderful 22cm sautes) I asked if they knew what CONTI referred to and I was told they came from the Conti restaurant in Paris. That is all the information I was given

  10. Hi V.,

    do you know when/why Mauviel started using “Villedieu France” rather than “Made in France” on pieces they made for other companies? I have a pan that I guess was made as a promotional item/employee bonus or the like for a gastronomy wholesaler. It’s absolutely identical in design, dimensions and weight to the one Mauviel is still selling so it must be manufactured by them.

    1. Hey Peter! I know the stamp of which you speak, and I’ve seen it alongside the Williams-Sonoma stamp and other store stamps that sourced from Mauviel so I also believe it’s a Mauviel mark. My guess at this moment is that this stamp is from the 1960s to early 1980s before Mauviel adopted the “Mauviel” branding and stamp in the mid-1980s. It seems possible to me that this stamp was the company’s first efforts to move away from the generic “Made in France” to the more specific “Villedieu France” (and the oval “Mauviel Villedieu”) prior to introducing the full Mauviel branding. Another possibility is that the three stamps represented different distribution channels (perhaps US, EU, and local Villedieu shops?) but that is just a hypothesis. What do you think? Does your piece feel like it could be 1960s-1980s?

      1. No, it looks fairly recent actually, although I also have two sauce pans with similar branding which are 3 mm which I guess haven’t been in production for a while. So based on that and the company they were made for I would guess early ’90s at the earliest.

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