Appraisal Video: (2:56)
Pottery & Porcelain
David Lackey Antiques & Art
GUEST: It is a piece my parents got from an elderly lady many years ago. It came with a piece of furniture that kind of came as a set and it was very old, supposedly.
APPRAISER: Well, when I look at this, I immediately think Meissen, and I think German porcelain. It has no function, except to be a thing of beauty. Meissen is a very important manufacturer that started in the early 18th century, and they set the standard for porcelain making almost throughout Europe. Meissen is all about quality. If the quality is not there, it's not going to be Meissen. First of all, we can look at the painted decoration on the front here. Now, you want it to be very, very well done, hand-painted, not transfer-decorated, with dark rich colors. Then you can look at the figures-- the detailing on the eyes and the face. You can look at the hair on both of the figures. You can see individual lines of hair, versus just a wash of color. Look at the body color. If it's white or has almost no color, it might not be Meissen. Also, these applied flowers. It was something that Meissen was really famous for. There's layer on layer of little leaves and little petals and little flowers. The cheaper ones, the copies, would just have a few flowers. So that's a good sign. So now let's look at the bottom, the marks, to see what that tells us. Now, Meissen marks were faked a lot. First of all, we have the classic... cobalt blue underglaze, Meissen crossed-swords mark. And it looks good. It looks very good. There are little dots at the end of the sword handles, and that's a mark that Meissen used from 1850 to 1924. But that mark could be copied, of course. Now, there's some other marks on the other side. There's a die-stamped mark,where they used a little die and impressed that. And lots and lots of German manufacturers used those die-stamp marks. So that doesn't necessarily mean that it's Meissen or not. But one thing that Meissen usually did on their big figural pieces, is there's a hand-incised colorless mark like this one, this four-digit number here, where someone, in the wet clay, they by hand went in and wrote the model number of the piece that was being made And this piece has that hand-incised number. So that's a good sign. This has everything that says this is absolutely Meissen, and it is. Now, this piece... typically, anything that has all these little applied flowers all over it in profusion, there's almost always little chips. But Meissen collectors will accept that, because these always have chips. If the figures are broken, like the arm is broken off, wings, heads are broken off, glued back on or missing, that will kill the value. Because those are harder. But a little damage to the flowers is a lot more acceptable to a collector. So this piece, despite the chips, at auction, would probably bring between $2,000 and $3,000.
APPRAISER: With a little restoration, you could probably add $500 to $1,000 to the value. If it were in perfect condition, it would probably bring between $4,000 and $6,000.