The Magnificence of a 19th Century Meissen Vase

The Story Behind the magnificent Vase

 The year was 1990 and I received a call from a young lady; an agent of Mine residing near Munich. This was shortly after the wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin came down. I was asked if I would be interested in the vase in the above photograph?

Now you might think given how it looks in the images above; it was an automatic yes I definitely want it!

However I didn’t have any photo to compare and there were very risky rules applied to the purchase if I was to agree. I had to base my decision on the faxed outline of a drawing of the vase and a few squiggles in the centre to describe the interior painting. Not really much to go on based on the fax alone and the size 1.60 meters high. So I knew it was very large.

The rule for the purchase was actually quite simple. Pick up the phone, dial her number and say, “yes that’s mine”.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? The moment my agent had picked up my call heard my voice meant I wanted to make the purchase and agree to the terms of the purchase to agree to give her 10% of the asking price of £36,000 in cash. This meant if when I arrived and I saw the vase it was not what I imagined it to be, say a copy or fake, or it was broken or restored I would have to part with the cash. Perhaps had I said no I might not be here to tell the story. Im actually being quite serious. For all I know the vase had been smuggled out of Russia.

However I was aware of one other of these vases and one of my Japanese customers being interested in the one in Marche Buron in Paris at a cost of £50,000.

I called up the customer and told him about the vase being identical to the one in Paris but insisted on a slightly higher price of £53,000. To give you an understanding of the vase’s size the lid alone stood 60 cm high. The vase was one of eight modelled. Two I knew were already in Japan; one sat in the museum at Meissen; another vase I had been told was sold to another Russian; the one in Paris and mine. 

As it would turn out another vase turned up in the United States but missing its cover.  This meant there were only one more of these enormous vases somewhere out there.

To cut a long story short, this photo of me sitting by the vase was as close as I got to handle it. All in all I owned it for 30 minutes. Once I had handed over the money my agent took care of the rest and my customer was no doubt very pleased with his purchase. Sometimes in life one has to take risks and sometimes they are bigger than most. This one paid off but there have been plenty of others that have not. Such is the life of an antiques dealer. 




The Meissen Man