Photo by John Ellis.

Bitossi, the Italian ceramics company, created playful, colorful, handmade wares in the mid century. So if collecting vintage Bitossi is your goal, what do you need to know about these retro beauties?

First, a Little Bitossi History

We asked Primitivemoderne shopowner Mark Mandrake about Bitossi. “The Bitossi company was founded in Florence Italy in 1921. Initially makers of roofing tiles. It wasn’t until 1959 that artistic director Aldo Londi created his most iconic collection ‘Rimini Blu’ with beautiful blue glaze inspired by the sea at Rimini.

Bitossi Rimini Blu bull
The Bitossi Rimini Blu series, including this bull figurine, is still in production today. Bitossi pieces made today will have a Bitossi crest on them. Photo courtesy of Bitossi Ceramiche.

In the early days, however, every piece was handmade. “Genuine vintage Bitossi pieces are all one of a kind, being decorated by hand,” Mark says.

Photo by Primitivemoderne.

Bitossi made animal figurines, vases, lamp bases, ash trays, and in a variety of colors–not just the famous Rimini Blu. Other common colors include orange, green, yellow.

Getting a Feel for the Real McCoy When Collecting Bitossi

“Through experience,” Mark says, “you get to know what a handmade piece feels like compared to one made by a mould. Handmade vintage Bitossi pieces have a sort of rough texture and that incised sgraffito detail that creates the iconic look of Bitossi.

Original Bitossi ceramics have markings that vary, some are even unmarked,” Mark continues.  “There are variations on markings often the early pieces were hand signed and a little later impressed Italy or made in Italy. These markings can be referenced on Pinterest.

Bitossi vintage cylindrical vase
This mid century Bitossi vase features a striped pattern and cylindrical shape. Photo courtesy of Primitivemoderne.

Keep an Eye Out for These …

Mark pointed out some specific vintage Bitossi marks to look out for, including “1950s pieces signed by Aldo Londi himself. These are usually geometric designs such as the Mondrian design seen on vases and as dishes and flatware in the form of fish. The signature is known as the Ztaly mark because of its characteristic form.”

Aldo Londi Bitossi orange and gold vase
Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.
Aldo Londi signed Bitossi vase
Aldo Londi signed Bitossi vase. Photo courtesy of 1stdibs.

Mark adds, “There are attractive substantial stoneware pieces again recognizable by their textured finish which are sometimes signed in gold hand written text. These will sometimes have a paper label for the Raymor Import Company who shipped the pieces into the USA.”

Another popular mid century importer of Bitossi to the States was the Rosenthal Netter Import Company. This vintage Bitossi owl vase, for instance, bears a Rosenthal Netter Import Company label.

Vintage Bitossi owl
Vintage Bitossi owl. Photo courtesy of
vintage Bitossi with Rosenthal Netter label
Photo courtesy of

For more on collecting Bitossi, read “The Bitossi Craze.” If you need help identifying whether or not a particular piece is vintage Bitossi, the Bitossi and MCM Italian Ceramics Facebook group is a good resource.

Atomic Ranch Best of Style 2021Find more on the best of Mid Century Modern design in our first-ever Best of Style issue! Order your copy here.

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!