The Ovington Brothers: Importing Treasures

I ran into some dinnerware pieces recently that had the original manufacture mark stamped on the underside, but also included an unfamiliar-to-me mark: “Ovington Bros NY”. This led me to do some online research and although I couldn’t find much information I decided to compile what I did find out here.

In the mid-1800s the Ovington brothers had trade in sculpture, ceramics, pottery, and table ware. They quickly expanded to a new two-story building which spanned several storefronts on Fulton Street, which was at the edge of the downtown shopping district. This fine store would stock some of the more refined examples of porcelain and china one could obtain, mostly imported from Europe by manufactures such as Sevres, Minton, Cauldon and more.

Tragedy did strike the store on one cold winter morning in 1883, however, when a fire broke out in the lower stories of the store just before the store was set to open for the day. Two employees were in the building and they evacuated the building and escaped the flames, pulling an alarm in the process to alert the local fire stations of the fire. Engines arrived on scene about 30 minutes after the fire broke out, which quickly spread to the upper floors, engulfing the entire building and threatening neighboring structures. The fire was brought under control after a long fight, but both the stock and structure of the Ovington Brothers store was a total ruin and losses were estimated as upwards of $250,000, or $16 million in today’s dollars.

Ovington Brothers Building, from an 1887 Ovington Brothers catalog.

The company was determined to rebuild and they set up headquarters in a nearby church. Only 11 months after the disastrous fire in November 1884, a new six-story department store opened to much fanfare and excitement. The firm prospered in its new location, and soon opened a branch in Manhattan. This new location later became their flagship retail space on nearby Flatbush Avenue in the middle of the downtown Brooklyn shopping district.

A Vintage Ovington Brothers Catalog

This old catalog is found on the internet archive, which appears to be some sort of marketing material giving some history of the pieces sold in their fine stores.

A Rough Time

It appears the brothers faced a rough time in the late 1800s, and their store was seized by the NY Sherrifs for a debt they owed to George Borgfeldt Co. for goods they had most likely sold in their stores. The amount owed ($20,127) amount to about $613,000 in 2018 dollars.

Excerpt from the NY Times on Aug. 21, 1896 (source:

“The china stores of Ovington Brothers, at 330 Fifth Avenue, this city, and 38 and 40 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, were seized yesterday by the Sheriffs of New-York and Kings Counties, on an attachment for $20,127, in favor of George Borgfeldt Co. of 18 Washington Place, for goods sold and delivered between March 5, 1895, and Aug 13, 1896.”

20th Century and Beyond

The last of three brothers running the store passed away in 1909.  Family took over and continued to sell fine china, bronzes, glassware and other treasures. Sometime after 1920 the name of the store was shortened to Ovingtons. (So any items with Ovington Brothers is prior to 1920.) I can’t find any information on what happened to Ovingtons, but it appears it was either purchased or closed sometime in the 20th century.

43 thoughts on “The Ovington Brothers: Importing Treasures

  1. Ovington’s was still around in 1926 as I have one of their 1926-27 catalogs. I have also been trying to figure out what happened to them.

    1. That is fascinating, thank you for the information! I just found a catalog from the 1950s on eBay so this article may need some revisions soon!

    2. My family owned the building and Ovingtons in the 20s-40s. They had stores on 5th Ave, Miami Beach, and Philly if I remember correctly. Long story short, family lost the business when the accountant stole a bunch of $$ and didn’t pay the taxes…. I would love to get a PDF copy of that catalogue, though, if at all possible! Something for the genealogical records…

  2. Loved your research and history. I was looking into it because I have a beautiful sterling cigarette case that was my grandfathers…

  3. I have 3 cup and saucer sets with two extra saucers with Ovington Brothers Austria stamp. I can find an image of them anywhere. They’re very unique and are gold encrusted. Is there a website I’m missing that could give me a value?

    1. I bet they are just beautiful! Value will be hard to determine, because it doesn’t seem like there is very much out there for sale. You could always check the sold section on eBay and see if you find something similar!

      1. I have these white basket weave ceramic nut cups ,made in Germany the Ovington sticker on it. They have gold rim with a picture of flowers on the bottom. Never seen anything like these .

    2. It’s been a couple of years but I hope you see this. I also have a gorgeous pair of gold painted sets I can’t find a picture of anywhere. They are technically soup bowls with matching saucers since they are double handled chinacoffee cups. Dark red and gold leaf like designs on the saucers and inside of the cups with off-white on the outside circled a gold decorative band around it. Such a stunning color combination of the deep red, and gold!

  4. Thank you for the research and info. I’m presently looking to purchase a Lenox platter with the Ovington Bros. Stamp. As I grew up in Brooklyn, and attended PS 176 “The Ovington School”, I thought the platter would be a nice addition to my collection.

  5. Hello, I have an odd piece with the Ovington name on the bottom. It has a number 7516 in the same cursive and the Ovington along with a red stamp with an anchor and D with the word FRANCE also in red. It’s from a collector’s antique sale. Any clues on how to do more research?

  6. I have a Henri Delcourt inkwell with an Ovington 7516 mark on the bottom. Is there any old catalog or system for determining a date when Ovington might have sold it?

  7. Where did you find the photo of the green and gold plate? I think my grandmother might have had this pattern, and I’d love to know the name.

    1. I took the photograph myself, I had a few of these plates in a private collection about a year ago. Unfortunately I was not ever able to locate the name of the pattern but I do know that these were originally produced by Cauldon for Ovington Brothers. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

  8. Great Wednesday Morning,

    My name is Carole Allen. I am not an antique dealer just an elementary school teacher. I am writing on behalf of my 93 year young Mom. I recently did a full renovated of our family home to make it accessible for Mom. All our other Heirloom China patterns were fine when we unpacked. The only 2 items broken was Mom & Dad’s 25th Wedding Anniversary Plates! Dad died in 1986 so these are very special to her. She received them as an anniversary gift. Where can I find replacements? This was found on the bottom of each plate: “Antique Ovington Bros DEPOSE FAbrique LIMOGES”. The plate is designed with a Gold Rim TURQUOISE Stripe Gold Rim & BOTANICAL in the Center. I hope you can help. Thank you, Portia & Carole Allen

  9. I have two porcelain horses – who’s necks intertwine. Their faces are a bit comical. The sticker on the bottom says “Ovington’s New York and the number 9-6708. Inside the hoof is the number ‘8-7’ on one and ‘8-1’ on the other. They’re skinny – could be cows actually. Belonged to my grandparents who travelled to New York often in the 1920’s. Wondering if anyone knows anything about them

  10. The odd coincidences that crop up when you are researching your family history … I have recently come across an obit note from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, dated 9 May 1918, which tells me that my great-grandfather was “for many years connected with the old firm of Ovington Bros., china merchants”. Apologies for not having heard of the company before, but from now on I shall be looking out for Ovington china, as I am quite a collector of vintage pieces. Interesting site here – thanks.

    1. That is super interesting, Amanda! I hope you are able to find some pieces to collect, they definitely curated some beautiful china to sell in their store.

    2. Amanda, I have just discovered what I think are 24 dinner plates in very good condition. Ovington Brothers New York Fabrique a Limoges Patented. France Depost. Happy to send you a picture and details.

      1. Thank you, that is very kind of you. As I live in the UK the transport costs for that amount of tableware would I think be prohibitive. However, I shall continue to check for bargains if I can, in the hope of acquiring a keepsake or two. Best wishes and thank you again for thinking of me!

    3. My great grandfather worked at Ovingtons. He traveled to France. We have some treasures.
      My grandmother’s wedding dress from 1930’s was in a front window display. I have it in my closet. Cheers.

      1. My grandfather was the treasurer of Ovingtons in the 40 and 50’s My moms wedding dress was Art Deco style from the window display at Ovingtons. This was in 1936.

  11. Years ago, I purchased a sculpture of DAVID devant SAÜL – 19″ high David holding a harp and standing on a lion’s head – by the French artist Georges Marie Valentin Bareau (1866 – 1931). On the back of the piece is a tiny brass plaque “Ovington New York” This piece was obviously marketed in the United States by Ovington.

  12. I am trying to identify a tea set marked Ovington Brothers – H & Co – England.
    Has the # 3545. Any ideas? It’s a beautiful red gilt floral pattern. Very unusual.

  13. Thanks to all for your posts. It looks like I’m not alone in trying to find out what happened to Ovington’s. I have a pair of cameo glass and gilt perfume bottles with paper labels, Ovington’s New York and Made in Czechoslovakia. They look like Loetz Etruscan Glass but they could be more recent. The search continues.

    1. I have a ten inch dinner plate with a fox and. A stork. Aesop’s fables. The fox invited the stork to dinner. The stork was unable to eat the soup because of her long beak…. Marked Brooklyn Ovingtons chicago
      I would love to sell the plate if someone is looking for it.

  14. I have a set of my grandmothers China from H&C Made in Bohemia. There is a mark “ EXPRESSLY MADE FOR OVINGTON’S”
    My father was born in 1929 and my grandmother went to the Ovingtons store after he was born to buy a set of China. She chose the Imperator pattern which is written on the plate. She said she paid $100. for the set of 12 place settings plus. It was shipped to her in CT in a barrel. She said she was sad to hear the factory in Czechoslovakia was destroyed in WWII as she would not be able to buy replacements. My grandmother only broke one teacup in the 1970s. The set was well used and I still love to use occasionally.

  15. Hi I have a brass box lined with cedar. It is stamped Ovington New York Chicago France on the underside lip of the catch. The relief on the top of the box is some Greek harvest scene raised on the lid with a blue border. I found it in a junk pile 55 years ago I was a teenager and I loved old things. It’s been my keepsake box all these years. Can I find the value of it somewhere or the catalog when they made it? Thanks

    1. Not sure if you are still moderating this site but I was so happy to stumble onto it. I bought two beautiful double handled coffee/broth cups and they have matching saucers.
      The odd thing is that the saucers are stamped with the same original Covington Brothers mark under an eagle logo as well as an Austria stamp (plus a mark I can’t make out) BUT ALSo includes New.York l. and Handpainted . The chips don’t have those last 2 additions but they match perfectly. Stunning colors if rich gold and a deep dark red congrats with a cream/off white color. I’m dying to learn more about them! Looks like the cups were make before 1850s per your post and the saucers would have been hand painted sometime during the 1850 – 1880s!

  16. I just purchased from an antique store in Denver recently and it has a tag on the bottom marked Ovington’s with a number that may be 16997.? I’ve never seen a wooden Box like this before. It’s long, rectangular and has a drawer at the bottom with holes in it. Can’t seem to find any information on what it is!

  17. I inherited a set of the green and gold dinner plate shown at the top of the article. I have the red ones as well. There was also the largest plate black and gopld set my Uncle inherited. The story that was passed down was that this was a copy of a set the King of Spain 1920-1930 opwned that my great Uncle received. Not sure after readint this article. Possible it was a family fairy tale.

  18. I just found a beautiful figurine in a thrift store. The figurine has a blue stamp, crown over the letter M. So far I wasn’t able to identify the maker of the figurine. But there is also an Ovington’s sticker saying “Ovington’s New York” with the number 94-3909. I am wondering if that can help to get more information about the beautiful lady figurine.

  19. I’m an Ovington, wondering if I am related to that family, I’m 56. Anyone know the family names and approx date of birth/death? I am on Ancestry and can see if I’m related to them then. Thanks!

  20. I’m looking for information on a piece of pottery,it is a vase that is 8.5″ tall. The !ain color is a shaky pink with gold bands on the lip. It has a square base of which the top is white and sides are gold. There are also gold swans on either side. Marking on the bottom are as follows Lenox made in America 2262/R86x15-10 made exclusively for Moving tons new York.

  21. In the late 1990s I purchased on eBay an 1930s Art Deco style Bronze bust sculpture on a Belgian black granite base by the prolific French sculptor Alexandre Kelety. In the Berman•Abage encyclopedic four-volumed “Bronzes (1800-1930) Sculptors & Founders” it is titled “MODERN MAN.” Upon further research I discovered that is was an actually a memorial piece to the revered French aviator Jean Mermos. Stamped on the back side of the sculpture in two places are “MADE IN FRANCE” and the foundry seal of the Paris LN &JL Foundry. And with a magnifying glass I was able to read a ver tiny “OVINGTON NEW YORK” stamped into the bronze on the back. At first I thought it was a city until a did a computer search finding it to be high end retailer. Thank you so much for helping me figure out how it got at the US.

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