The Meissen Man answers questions from members of the Meissen Collectors’ Association
The Meissen Man is available to answer members’ specific questions.
The Meissen Man’s advice on buying Meissen Porcelain.
Q: How can I be assured that a piece of Meissen is genuine?
A: This question is one of the most important that you will have to consider. You must assure yourself that the vendor in question can answer your question, whether it is a private individual, a dealer, an auction salesroom or someone selling directly to you via E-bay or on-line auction. Your question about an item being genuine is tired up with the question of the authenticity of the vendor. These are the questions you need to be able to ask the vendor:
What is their knowledge?
Where did they gain their experience?
Are they guaranteeing the item’s authenticity?
Will they offer a full refund if the item turns out to be not as described?
Will you be assured that you will be paid out a full refund?
What assurance will you have that this full refund will be guaranteed?
If the vendor hesitates to answer then tread carefully. Suggest, as diplomatically as possible that unless your concerns can be addressed you will not feel comfortable buying from them.
The Bottom Line is that no vendor should hesitate to answer the above questions.
However there are some questions that you cannot expect to be answered.For instance, what is the cost price? How much profit is the vendor making and what percentage of the price is the vendor’s profit?
If you are making a purchase from a private individual then it will be up to you to have a working knowledge of the item you are buying. You will only have yourself to blame if an item turns out to not be what you believed it to be. In making a purchase from a private individual you cannot expect them to reimburse you for your errors of judgement.
If you are making a purchase from a dealership where there is more than one dealer involved in the sale, then you may only have any assurance under whatever rules the dealership operates by.When buying an item from a shop you may have an additional guarantee by making the purchase with a credit card.
The safest way to be assuredthat a pieceis genuine Meissen is to always go through a specialist dealer, who will have years of experience of his subject.
The other alternative to buying from a specialist dealer is to purchase directly from a recognised auction salesroom. It is important to check the conditions of sale that may be written into the catalogue. If they are not, the saleroom is legally bound to make them available to you.
However, there may still be some risk attached to buying directly from an auction salesroom. Whilean in-house specialist maybe able to discuss everything they know about a particular lot, it is important to remember that it is still only an opinion.Although you may be protected from various forms of errors of judgement, in the end, you will have to bear the responsibility of any error on your part. This may mean you paying the full hammer price, including buyer’s premium and any applicable tax or vat.Bear in mind that, if there has been an error made by the auction salesroom’s specialist, this will be the onlytime that you will be legally entitled to a full refund.
The other thing you have to remember is that an auction salesroom’s specialist has two party’s interest to consider. They are acting for the seller and you, the buyer. This specialist’s opinion of repair, restoration and quality of workmanship may differ from yours. When buying from a specialist dealer you have to remember one very vitally important fact. The dealer has put his money where his mouth is. He has chosen to invest in a very wide variety of pieces within his speciality. This is a subject that he has studied over the many years that he has been trading. During this period of learning he has undoubtedly made mistakes, some of which have caused him financial loss. He is therefore likely to completely understand the marketability of his stock.
In buying from a dealer you have the opportunity of spending time making up your mind over any purchase. This is a considerable advantage over buying from auction. There you are limited to the time a piece is on view and if the lot makes more money than you were prepared to pay, you will have no second chance – it is gone.
There is another alternative that may benefit both you and the dealer. You can buy at auction but use the dealer’s knowledge. This can be a very effective approach to buying, as you will be able to discuss any concerns you have about the piece with the dealer prior to sale. Of course you will have to arrange a commission with him, as he is entitled to charge for his expertise.
Q: How can I build my knowledge base?
A: By putting your trust in a specialised dealer and learning from his experience. His role will be to teach you everything he knows. You will then be able to use his knowledge base as you start to build a collection.
Q: What is the best Meissen to Buy?
A: There is no one best Meissen to buy. However there are guidelines available on what is the best Meissen to buy available to you as a member of the Meissen Collector’s Association.
Frankly, the best Meissen to buy is what you can afford, what you consider is the most attractive and what you will be happy to live with.
In choosing your pieces you can also consider provenance, rarity, quality, damage, restoration andperfection. But you can extend this further, for example with provenance. If you are buying from a reputable dealer, then his name will offer you some assurance when it comes to authenticity and guarantee..
The other types of provenance is when an item can be traced back historically or comes from a known collection..
Q: Will my Meissen appreciate in value?
A: Never buy assuming that your piece will appreciate in value. One of the advantages of buying from a dealer is that he may be interested in re-purchasing your piece if you make him aware you want to upgrade. This method of buying and selling enables you to upgrade your collection with minimal expense. Of course this method can only work if you are exchanging one piece for another.
Q: I want to buy Meissen as an investment what steps should I take?
A: If it is your intention to only buy for investment then you will need to be aware of the pitfalls in purchasing. Looking back over the past thirty years, certain Meissen is now cheaper than it was twenty years ago, whereas, certain other items have appreciated substantially.
Q: I want to collect Meissen. Is there a particular period should I collect? What are my choices?
A: Generally speaking, the further you go back into Meissen’s history the more expensive pieces may become. Most collectors generally specialise in either table wares or figural.
Table wares generally consist of tea and coffee pots, water and milk jugs and tea caddies, plus tea bowls and tea cups with saucers; also plates of all shapes and sizes, tureens, bowls and centrepieces.
Figural means figures or groups. Whether it is single figures or groups there will be different genres or types, the most expensive of all are the Italian Comedy genre, based on Commedia dell’arte figures.
Some collectors choose only the first period of Meissen production as their collecting genre and do not consider items made after1735 as being worthy items. This is generally taken to be the date when Bottger Porcelain ceased to be used. Other collectors may include pieces up to 1740, which means they accept the early models by Kaendler. Some collectors choose their cut-off date as 1750, while others may go up to the Seven Years War in 1757 for their pieces, as many of Kaendler’s work after 1745 is considered highly desirable.
The Marcolini period tends to be the most under rated period of all. Perhaps one day these pieces will greatly appreciate financially, as may twentieth century Meissen that is considered second hand. Because of this it can be purchased extremely cheaply, as there is virtually no market for it.
Q: Why is Meissen so expensive?
A: It is generally assumed that all Meissen is very expensive. But there are formidable reasons behind this assumption.Firstly Meissen invented porcelain manufacture in Europeand has been in production for more than three hundred years, which is longer than any other manufacturer. Whether a piece was made in 1710 or 2013 it is hand made. This means the process of manufacturing Meissen today has not changed in over three hundred years. These pieces are still virtually custom-built. The same precision goes into the making of any individual piece and some of the more important and larger pieces can take months of work, hence the substantial labour costs involved.
There are also other lesser known reasons for the price of Meissen, including its fragility. All other European porcelain is less prone to breakages.
Q: Why is so much of antique Meissen on the market not in perfect condition?
A: Because of the fragility of Meissen porcelain accidents do occur, particularly with figural pieces or items with raised floral decoration, indicating inappropriate care. It is mishandling of pieces that definitely causes the most damage.
Q: I built a relationship with a dealer based on trust. The pieces I bought were genuine but I have been overcharged, as the item is not as described where condition is concerned. What can I do?
A: If you built a relationship with a dealer based on trust and you really believe the prices you paid were exorbitant, then you will have to justify your reason for believing this. The Meissen Man can help you with this, as it is a service he offers. However, before he can offer to substantiate your claim it will be necessary for him to inspect your purchases and have sight of receipts of purchase. He will then be able to compare the prices paid for similar pieces where the quality condition and rarity compares to the pieces you were sold. The same procedure applies in judging the price paid for a piece against’ quality or condition.
Q: I want to buy new Meissen what are the pros and cons?
A: When you buy new you are buying pieces that are in perfect condition and are not pre-owned. However, against this you must weigh the fact that new Meissen is very expensive to purchase. This is mainly because of the process of manufacture, as well as other valuable attributes. Of course, the fact that limited number of pieces are manufactured also adds to their price..
Q: What if I cannot afford to buy the most expensive pieces or pieces of the finest of quality?
A: Not all Meissen has to be either very expensive or of the best quality. There are several factors that determine value and, by being aware of them, you can choose what your preference is for quality, rarity, provenance, condition, period as any one of these factors can affect the price. However, the least expensive pieces are going either to be in poor condition or of poor quality. Some of the least popular genres or recently made pieces that are second hand may be easily affordable.
The Meissen Man can help you here.
Don’t know where to start and what to collect?
A specialist dealer is your first port of call as he or she will be able to explain things to youbased on their knowledge.
However, when in doubt – ask TheMeissenMan.
Q: I want to sell my Meissen. How can I be assured that I will get the highest price?
A: While www.TheMeissenMan.com does not assist in the making of direct purchases,nor can you sell through www.TheMeissenMan.com, membership to the Meissen Collectors’ Association enables you to get expert advice on selling your Meissen.
The Meissen Man’s advice on Provenance
Q: What is provenance?
A: Provenance is a record of ownership.
Q: Can provenance increase the value of any item?
A: If the record of the ownership of a piece proves that it has a known source then depending on who the source is (or was) makes all the difference. For instance, if it is from a well-known collection, or perhaps a member of the aristocracy or royalty, then this can mean a high premium may have to be paid to secure the piece because of its provenance. On the other hand, you may be able to secure a higher price when selling your provenance based item.Where provenance enters a whole new area is when interest in a piece is greatly enhanced by the eventful lives of previous owners.
The Meissen man’s advice on restoration
Q: How will restoration affect the value of an item?
A: Restoration undoubtedly affects the value of any item, from a slight variation to a major percentage – the greater the damage the greater the surface area that the restoration must cover to makethe damage invisible. What really matters is how much restoration is required and what percentage of restoration affects the saleability of an item. Also to be considered is the quality of restoration and the knowledge the restorer has of the type of item that is being restored.
Q: Is all restoration of the same quality?
A: Certainly not. Can you compare a Fiat or a Rolls Royce? If, for whatever reason, you really do desire the highest possible quality of restoration possible for your Meissen piecethen this may mean using the Meissen Factory’s highly acclaimed *restoration studio or other highly skilled restorers that can make replacement parts in porcelain or high grade plastique material.
*restoration at Meissen may not be applicable to your item unless certain criteria are met.
The Meissen Man can advise you further on this.
Q: Is there any value buying a restored piece?
A: One of the main benefits of buying a restored piece, as opposed tosomething in perfect condition, is the financial saving involved.
*my main objection to replacing parts of a damaged piece with new Meissen is that the factory will most likely be replacing with modern porcelain that may look out of character from the original.