Cordey Lookalikes: the Chantilly China Company

Never let it be said that Cybis vs. Boehm was the only cross-town porcelain rivalry in Trenton: Before that, there was Cordey vs. Chantilly! There were actually two Cordey lookalike/wannabe companies operating during the 1940s and 1950s, but Chantilly was the one who shared Cordey’s turf.

Chantilly’s legal history has been frustratingly hard to trace, because the New Jersey corporate database doesn’t show any such company name (although they do show Cordey and, later, Cybis.) This lends credence to the entry in the 1988 edition of Lehner’s Encyclopedia of US Marks on Pottery, Porcelain and Clay that says Chantilly China was actually a brand-line name owned by Tebor Inc., which was itself “affiliated with American Crownford China.”

There was indeed a company named Tebor Inc. based in New York City, who registered their trademark on October 10, 1939. Their business is described in the US Patent Office records as a manufacturer of “ceramic table and cooking ware, jars, and vases.” So, Tebor was in the appropriate industry at the relevant time, at any rate.

As far as American Crownford China, I came up almost empty but did find a single 1941 ad from a shop in upstate New York:

The ad (sorry for the thumbnail, it was this or nothing) is for lamps by Crownford China. If that company – and/or Tebor – wanted to branch out into frilly-looking figurines and ‘smalls’, adding a brand line called Chantilly China would make perfect sense.

Items under the Chantilly branding had three methods of identification, at least one of which was utilized per piece, and sometimes all three.

There was a Chantilly mold impression,

a Chantilly China paint-stamp (the 201 is a design number paint-stamp),

and a Chantilly gummed sticker of silver foil paper. It’s interesting that the sticker says “Trade Mark Reg.” but there is no such registration in the USPTO database. There are 84 entries for some form of Chantilly – from the 1895 registration of Gorham’s flatware pattern, to such varied items as a brand of apple juice – but nothing even remotely connected to porcelain.

Chantilly wares fell into the same categories as what the Cordey China company was putting out during the 1940s…including lamps.

Here are two newspaper ads from 1948. Although the store in the upper ad offered the option of having a porcelain figurine converted into a lamp base, they also sold ready-made Chantilly brand lamps as well.

This 1949 ad from Lampcrafters mentions Cordey, Capo-di-monte [sic], and Amabel lamps. This shows that Chantilly and Cordey were competing in the same lighting market at the same time (late 1940s/early 1950s.)

As far as Chantilly production goes, they appear to have used three-digit design numbers, with human figures assigned design numbers starting with 4, and home décor pieces given numbers starting with 3. The 200-series seems to have been for birds.

Chantilly China Full Figures

The full-length figures made at the Chantilly shop were very similar to Cordey’s pieces, both in their design, painting style, use of dipped lace, and overall dimensions. Most were about 12” high although some found have been taller. Some of the female figures had a name/title written on the bottom but most did not. Let’s look at a few Chantilly full-figures.

Now let’s look at some comparable Cordey figures:

Both studios favored the same style of base section, i.e., a scrolled outer edge with gold paint accents. The Chantilly pieces tend to use a bit more dipped lace, and with better workmanship than many Cordey examples. Perhaps as befitting their brand name, the lace on the Chantilly pieces is not only more delicate but typically is done ‘cleaner’ and sharper than their Cordey counterparts.

An exception to my comments above would be these ballet pairs, wherein the Cordey duo (upper photo) definitely sports more frills and furbelows than the Chantilly dancers!

Chantilly China Busts

Chantilly followed the Cordey practice (or perhaps vice versa?) of also producing bust/torso figurines. They were all about 8” high, give or take, from both factories.

Again the base sections are similar to Cordey, and again the lace is better done (in most cases.)These are three Cordey examples of companion busts. The third pair is especially well done. One thing that the Cordey figures do often have, that Chantilly ones never do, is hand-formed hair ringlets, sometimes called ‘sausage curls’.

Here is a great example of how Chantilly and Cordey can be confused. The painted bust is marked Chantilly on the bottom. The glazed white bust was sold on eBay several years ago and described as an “unmarked Cordey sample piece.” Most people wouldn’t question that, given the dipped lace and flowers. But when comparing it with the color version, we can see that they are identical not only in the design but in the quality of the dipped lace. In fact, I had originally put the white one into my first Unique and Unusual Cordey Items post, based on the description and the look. Now, having seen the painted Chantilly one, I’ve removed it!

Chantilly Home Décor Items and Lamps

This category is the one where the least noticeable difference between Chantilly and Cordey exists.

Trays and dishes and trinket boxes galore came out of both factories. Cordey did do a few large bird pieces as well, just as over-the-top as the Chantilly peacocks. Both factories produced vases.

The upper grouping gives a good idea of what the typical Cordey wares in this category looked like.

Wall décor was a subcategory that both companies brought out, in both dimensional plaques and also shelves that could display a small item atop them. These are by Chantilly.

Both companies made two styles of lamp bases: Traditional form, and figurine based.

Chantilly China lamps with bust-figure bases, full-figure bases, and traditional lamp bases with applied floral decorations.

Some typical Cordey lamp examples.

What Chantilly China Isn’t

Two things we can say for certain: these Chantilly China items were not made in France, and are not circa-1800 antiques. Unfortunately, some online sellers don’t bother (or perhaps don’t choose?) to read anything beyond a single Google result that happens to be a Wikipedia page. A little common sense, combined with basic reading comprehension, would have avoided a listing like the one below:

Seller’s description:

Up for your consideration is a UNIQUE RARE ANTIQUE original CIRCA 1800’s LARGE fine soft paste porcelain sculpture figurine handcrafted by well-known high quality maker CHANTILLY of FRANCE!  Figurine is stamped on bottom “CHANTILLY CHINA 428” which is also embossed beneath!  Figurine shows amazing craftsmanship and detail throughout!  Realistic intricate porcelain lace flourishes throughout this VICTORIAN WOMEN’S dress!  Hand painted colors remain bright and vibrant though out!  Extremely well made and large weighing 4 1/2 LBS and measuring 17 1/4 Inches X 6 1/2 Inches X 6 1/2 Inches.

What happened here is that the seller took the wrong Wikipedia entry, meaning wrong as it applies to what he/she was selling, and just ran with it without doing any more research whatsoever.

There was indeed a porcelain factory in France during the 1700s. It was established by the Prince de Condé, Louis Henri de Bourbon, near (but not actually on) his estate which was called the Chateau de Chantilly. His intention was to create soft-paste porcelain items to compete in the high-end marketplace with those being manufactured by the factories at Mennecy, Saint-Cloud, Meissen, and in China. Prince Louis died ten years after establishing his factory, but his manager, Ciquaire Cirou, continued production. Their wares became so sought after that by the 1900s there were several copycat factories who were making knockoffs and even using the Condé original underglaze factory mark:

The general interpretation of this mark is that is represents a hunting horn. Because of all the knockoffs that proliferated in the early 1900s, it can be hard to tell which items are from the original factory at Chantilly. That is a job for an expert.

This short history tells us several things. First, the porcelain that was used in Trenton by Cordey, Chantilly, Cybis, Boehm and countless others was hard-paste porcelain, not soft-paste. Soft-paste porcelain was and is typically used in Britain and Europe, but not here in the USA, at least not for any sort of quantity production.

True antique “Chantilly” French porcelain, whether from the original Condé factory or one of its contemporaries, is typically not glazed; it’s bisque (matte.) The circa-1700s pieces are also not likely to be marked with a brand name and design number applied via a manufactured stamp!  But the biggest difference of all is the way the actual antique figures look, i.e., their style and workmanship.

This is a pair of antique 18th century French ‘Chantilly’ porcelain figures. The difference between this and any similar modern item is like night and day.

A simple side by side comparison speaks volumes. In an ironic twist, the username of the seller of the 1950s Chantilly China lady was “antiquemaster2003”. Methinks that a refresher course was needed!

The information above should put to rest any lingering doubts about where and when Chantilly China Company items were made.

Chantilly vs. Cordey

As mentioned earlier, when compared with Cordey, the dipped lace on Chantilly items is generally superior (sorry, Boleslaw). I have heard, anecdotally and at least once removed, that some Cordey employees used to moonlight at Chantilly – but because everyone from that era has since died, it’s impossible to confirm or refute. However, if that did happen, my guess is that they were painters or flower-makers rather than ‘lace dippers.’ This is not to say that Cordey’s dipped lace is bad, only that Chantilly’s dipped lace was done better.

On any given day there are far more Cordey items listed on eBay than Chantilly; as I write this there are 372 Cordey China items on eBay but only 22 Chantilly China ones. This is no doubt a reflection of their relative overall production output. Remember that Cordey had two production sites during the 1940s (Philadelphia and Trenton) versus what we assume was just one for Chantilly and we don’t even know at what point in the 1940s Chantilly was launched. (Which came first?) And while we do know the three addresses for Cordey production, an actual address for Chantilly China remains elusive.

An upcoming Archive post will take a look at the other Cordey lookalike brand during those two decades. Unlike these two, however, that factory was located on the opposite coast!

Browse other posts about Cordey

Name Index of Cybis Sculptures (no Cordey)
Visual Index (for Cybis human figures/busts only)

About the Cybis Reference Archive
What is Cybis?

Contact the Archive

Images of Cybis, Cordey and other porcelain sculptures are provided for informational and educational purposes only. All photographs are copyrighted by their owner as indicated via watermark and are used here only as reference material. Please see the copyright notice in the footer and sidebar for important information regarding the text that appears within this website.

The Cybis Archive is a continually-updated website that provides the most comprehensive range of information about Cybis within a single source. It is not and never has been part of the Cybis Porcelain studio, which is no longer in business.