Meissen Porcelain Figural Group, ca. 1878
In another life, I was in the antique furniture business for about 30 years, and this happened to be in a house full of stuff I bought, and since I was a furniture guy, I didn't really know anything about this and still don't. I've owned it probably more than 30 years.
It's made at the Meissen porcelain factory in Germany. And Meissen is perhaps one of the best-known names in the history of ceramic art. It's where porcelain making proper really started in earnest in Europe, about 300 years ago. And they've been making porcelain in Meissen ever since then, including things like this, which have been made since the 18th century. You can see the characters themselves, these two lovers, are very much 18th-century figures; they're dressed in 18th-century costume. Beautifully modeled, I must say, every detail about it, including this rather naughty detail of his hand at the back.
Very well done. The hand is quite discreet, I think, because of the time. This was made in the middle of the Victorian years, when Meissen were making large quantities of porcelain figurines for export, and many of them made their way to England. It would have been part of a wealthy family's holdings. Made probably about 1875 or '80. We can tell that just by looking at it, the quality of the modeling, the color scheme in particular, and to a certain extent, the subject matter and the way it's treated. And then if we turn it over, we can see this blue crossed swords mark. It's a very familiar mark in porcelain making, but it's most closely associated with the Meissen factory. And that particular form of the crossed swords-- slightly large, slightly paler blue-- is typical of mid- to late-Victorian years. So all in all, I think it's a great example of Meissen porcelain figural modeling from a good period. Not the earliest period and not the most valuable period, but a good period. I'd like to point out his hat here, which is upturned and possibly intended to hold a little perfume, a little pastille of some sort, to create a fragrance. I've met lots of people who appreciate and adore Meissen, many of whom started buying Meissen right after World War II, when it was very affordable in North America. There are fluctuations in the market, and if we had been sitting here 20 years ago, the value would have been perhaps as much as twice what it is today. Nevertheless, there is some value on it. I think if it came to auction today, I would see it bringing perhaps at least $800 and maybe as much as $1,200 at auction.
And I would say 20 years ago, perhaps $2,000.
Ah, great. Well, I had no expectations, so that's great.
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