Antique stoneware crocks have marks and symbols that collectors can use to trace the origins. From geometric shapes to symbols from nature, these marks are as varied as the pieces they identify. Words or initials are also common forms of stoneware identification.
Stoneware pottery from the 1700s that hails from Europe may bear the symbol of an anchor. Very old pieces have crude designs with few lines and very little detail. Nineteenth-century anchor designs are more elaborate and intricate. German and Old English pottery may exhibit a crown or a shield as its manufacturing mark. If the piece was made after 1891, it also bears the country of origin. Pieces manufactured after 1914 include the words "Made in" along with the country of origin.
Human body parts or mythical creatures are often indicative of pottery made in the 19th or 20th century. Hands and arms are most common, often clutching swords or arrows. Company names usually accompany these unique marks, making it easier for the collector to date the individual piece.
Pottery or stoneware marked with foreign alphabets are difficult to trace. The intrigue is often sufficient motivation to try, however, as pieces bearing these marks are frequently ancient and very rare. Some pottery marked with foreign alphabets can be dated back to 13th-century China.