Art and Antique Appraisals

ART DIRECTIVES  Client Case Study F


Meissen  A porcelain set from Eastern Germany is appraised for $18,000

By Asma Mian


Meissen, a small town in Eastern Germany, is world renowned thanks to the beautiful and elegant porcelain products that have been made there since the early 1700s. Meissen porcelain dinner services, figurines or plaques with the original mark of the crossed swords are owned by collectors all around the world, which is a testament to their workmanship. Finely painted and decorated pieces of high quality made of Meissen hard paste porcelain last the test of time; pieces made in and since the eighteenth century are still collected and used today.

Meissen porcelain was the first European porcelain to be made outside of China and the Far East at a time when Chinese and Japanese porcelain wares were highly coveted and exported to the West. The technique of firing and making the hard white porcelain objects out of clay was discovered during experiments conducted by alchemists in the Saxony region of Germany. This led to the construction of the first manufacturer of porcelain in Europe, “Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Meissen,” which was under the command of King Augustus II. Dresden, a nearby town also prospered in porcelain ware production.

Meissen designs with their brilliant colors, floral sprays, and applied decorations started an era of high quality production and sales of porcelain in Europe. Meissen factory created objects such as palace sized urns, highly detailed and decorated figurines of people and animals, beautiful vases, and candlesticks. They also made magnificent frames, plaques and mirrors. Objects were often marked with the initials of their makers such as KPM, MPM and AR for Augustus Rex.

Sculptors and design directors of the Royal factory helped make desirable creations that led to the factories around Meissen copying and imitating their style. The original crossed swords trademark was also imitated, which makes identifying the authentic Meissen from copies challenging. Consequently, a proper valuation and appraisal of antique Meissen is highly recommended. It takes a trained eye to make the distinction between the authentic Meissen marks and the fraudulent marks. Many products aim to replicate the style and design of Meissen but the quality and value of an original is unmatched.

Meissen patterns for dinner services such as the Blue Onion feature a white background adorned with cobalt blue floral design similar to the ones found on oriental wares. The Blue Onion pattern has been in production since the eighteenth century. It is so desirable that it has been copied by numerous manufacturers. Our research for a client from Princeton, NJ with a 100 piece dinner service including the serving pieces for the Blue Onion pattern dating from the nineteenth century found the replacement value of the set to be $18,000. The set had an estimated value of $9,500 at auction.

Meissen floral patterns are highlighted with the addition of gilt borders or applied decorated figures to serving pieces. A client in Haverford, PA with a 122 piece dinner set with large tureens and a coffee and tea service had questions about the value of her pieces. The large covered pieces such as the soup tureen had a beautifully applied figural finial to the cover. The set even with minor condition issues to the pieces was valued for auction at an estimated $6,000.

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