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Meissen Fraud

To understand a little about Meissen fraud it is necessary to understand the different types of fraud. These can be any of the following. The crossed swords mark is tampered with, the crossed swords mark is erased, a piece of genuine Meissen porcelain is painted outside of the factory and is not described correctly. It is being sold as a genuine piece of Meissen Porcelain that was painted at the factory.

Another types of fraud is when a piece becomes damaged and it is restored by a person who has spurious intentions. This could be a group that has become broken and originally it had four figures but since one was so badly damaged it and impossible to restore or too expensive to restore and it is passed off as a piece in its original condition or descibed as being complete. Watching the following video illustrates such a piece. 

Other types of fraud are a figure or group being described as being a figure or group but in fact are a part of a much larger sectional piece of Meissen. 

Meissen fakes

Meissen porcelain was first  manufacturory of porcelain in for the last 300 years.  Unfortunately, for the past 290 years people have purposely created knockoff Meissen porcelain.  There are any number of terms to describe porcelain made to look like Meissen that is not authentic.  Forgeries, counterfeits, copies, fakes, reproductions, replicas, and imitations all get used interchangeably.

When looking at something represented as Meissen you need to forget about the asking price and the venue.  Fakes are sold at auctions for thousands of pounds and fakes are sold at flea markets for pennies, and vice versa.  Some other antiques have neat little tricks you can use to easily tell if something is authentic or a reproduction.  Sadly, there isn’t one make or break detail to check for.  However, there are a series of signs that could potentially help you correctly identify a fake.

Holes:

Porcelain objects need to have a small hole in them to allow for heat to escape during firing.  Meissen usually put the hole on the bottom of the piece; if that was not possible then the hole was cleverly disguised.  People making reproductions were not always careful to hide vent holes.  If you see a Meissen piece with an obvious vent hole, then it is probably a reproduction.

Size:

Forgers focus on copying authentic pieces.  The easiest way to do this is to obtain an authentic Meissen figure and use it for the fake mold.  The problem with this technique is that the fake ends up being about 16% smaller than the authentic example.  Knowing that won’t help you much out in the field.  However, given a chance to adequately research a piece, it is great information to have in your back pocket.

Weight:

This is another leisure test that is very important.  In theory all authentic Meissen porcelain figures (of the same design) should weigh the same because they were made using the same mold.  If you can get the weight of an authentic example, then you can compare that to a potentially spurious example.

Color:

Knowing the acceptable color range of authentic Meissen porcelain is a skill that longtime collectors and dealers rely on.  Meissen porcelain should have a slightly bluish white color to it.  Meissen knockoffs tend to be a whiter or almost cream color.

Eye Color:

This is one of those classic antique tricks.  Virtually all Meissen porcelain figures depicting people from the 1700s have brown eyes.  Anything that has blue eyes should be viewed with extreme skepticism.  The silver lining to this rule is that if the piece does have blue eyes, and is authentic, then it will be very valuable.

Hair and Skin:

This is more of a factual lesson to remember than a great way to spot a fake.  Figures from the 18th century had very lightly painted skin and their hair is drawn as single lines over a color.  In the 19th century Meissen used a lot more skin color and there were no hair lines.

Details:

One of the most intuitive things to look for when trying to determine the authenticity of any antique is the details.  Does this look hand painted?  Does this look like it was made to the standards of the most important porcelain manufacturer in history?  Always start looking at Meissen porcelain critically.  An old art adage is that if there is any doubt to authenticity, then without a doubt it is not authentic.  If you have to convince yourself to look past obvious red flags then you are trying to hard to make it work.

Marks:

It is important to be aware of the false marks.  However, it is still easy to fake a legitimate mark.  At least make sure the mark is under the original glaze.  If the glaze around the Meissen mark is uneven or a different color then that is a bad sign.

View Our Complete List of Fake Meissen Porcelain Marks

Texture: 

Fakes fall into two categories those that are direct copies of models first modelled in the era of Kaendler and models that are modelled directly from nineteenth century. These models are generally made out of porcelain that feels lighter in weight and thinner than authentic Meissen

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