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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.