One of the wonderful reasons to visit the auction salesroom Bonhams is being able to see a cross section of 18th through the 20th century Meissen. Particularly now when the market is very hot for the finest and rarest of Meissen with prices shooting through the roof for certain pieces how do you learn to buy if you are novice and does quality really matter? Irrespective of a piece’s age quality is a very important factor in determining value. In this short video The Meissen Man points out the finer quality pieces especially focussing on a very fine group of two women standing by a urn supported by a pillar; two doves at their feet.
This group would have been made in the Leuteritz workshop. Ernst August Leuteritz was the manager of the modelling department at Meissen. He oversaw all the modellers works to ensure the quality met his high standards of workmanship. Any piece that didn’t would have been marked as a second. However determining a piece as a second is virtually impossible to establish.
It was always thought that a cancellation through the mark or beside meant the piece was a second. However this is simply not true. When the Meissen factory began facing stiffer competition;(primarily after the industrial revolution) they came up with the idea to establish a certain protocol whereby pieces untouched by cancellation would be sold to their elite customers and those marked with a cancellation would be sold to everyone else. Unfortunately this left a great problem within the public domain. During the 20th century so much 19th century Meissen came onto the market and mixed with cancelled pieces is the reason why it is impossible to determine whether figural piece with cancellations are inferior in quality to those without the cancellation. Where pieces are inferior has more to do with the age of a piece. For example pieces modelled circa 1880 are far finer than pieces modelled circa 1870 and models modelled in 1870 higher quality than models modelled between 1840 and 1860. Any models that pre-date these dates are likely to be of inferior quality because during the first 40 years of the 19th century the Meissen factory was going through great financial struggles. This meant many pieces were sold off in the white and many spurious cross swords marks began appearing on these poor quality pieces. Particularly pieces with firing faults. Today such pieces find their way into the market place and compete with the finer quality pieces in so much as being bought by collectors and dealers who lack the superior knowledge of specialists.
By observing different models and styles at Bonhams specialist European Ceramics Sales it is possible to inspect at close hand a cross section of more than 270 years of Meissen Models.
Few specialist dealers can compete with the likes of Bonhams holding onto the knowledge and experience of understanding the differences between both quality and rarity.
Moving forward to Bonhams Spring Sale of European Ceramics expect to see more in-depth videos looking at recognising these differences.