Meissen Cherubs, ca. 1870

Value (2004) | $2,100 Retail$2,800 Retail

GUEST:
They've been in mother's china closet since I was little. Originally I believe they came from my grandmother, and when I was born my grandparents were all gone so that's all I know about them. Except my mother had told me that I guess one of them had a broken heart and brought it to the other cherub here to mend the heart. And they've been in the china closet ever since, and I've just kept them because they're very cute to me. But I was curious as to how old they are.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Did you have any ideas about who made them?

GUEST:
None.

APPRAISER:
When we first look at these, they appear to be made by Meissen, which is a very famous porcelain factory near Dresden, Germany. They've been around since the early 1700s and have been one of the big innovators in porcelain making in Europe. When we're trying to decide whether something is genuine Meissen, there's several things we look at. Before I look at the mark, I always look at the quality of the piece. And looking at these, we can see that they are very, very well painted and well modeled. The modeling, the fingers and the toes... the hair is very, very crisply modeled, and also we can see the detailing on the stump and the plinth, hair, faces. Then we look at the quality of the painting. Meissen will tend to be very heavily painted all over with very few white areas. And we look all the way from the faux marble to the detailing on the grass and the stumps, even the little detailing on the band going around his chest and the face and the hair is very crisp, exactly what we want it to look like. And so before I turned these over I was certain that these were by Meissen.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Then we can look at the mark. On the bottom we've got an under-glaze, blue, crossed-swords mark. It is exactly correct. If there's a variation, if it's kind of close, it's probably not by Meissen-- especially if the quality is not there-- but the mark is very crisp.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
If we turn the figure, rotate it over here, we can see a colorless, incised mark, a number, that was incised by hand on the bottom. Meissen figures will always have that, and that's another sign that it definitely by Meissen. That's the model number which the factory gave it, and both of these have similar marks. They're by Meissen. So these are genuine, and now we want to know, well, what are they worth. Generally on Meissen, the older the figure is, the more valuable it is. I can tell that these are definitely not 18th century and we knew by the mark that they're made after about 1850, but one way you can date them is by quality of the painting. As time goes on they're not quite as good. 20th-century ones are wonderful quality, but they're not quite as good. One way we really look is we look at the skin tones. If they're entirely flesh-colored that is typical of a 19th-century figure versus an early 20th-century figure. Early 20th-century figures will have a lot of white. In fact, there may just be fingers and toes and faces that are flesh-colored-- the rest of their skin is white. So these are 19th century, probably between the 1860s and the 1880s, and that's good. Now, this one here is in perfect condition, and this one over here has a little bit of damage. We can look on the back, we can see that the back of his hammer is broken off where he was mending a heart and then the back of his other tool are broken off. They've been painted over, so it's kind of hard to see.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
On this perfect one, because it's 19th century, it's a larger size. These cherub figures came in smaller sizes as well-- it's a larger size. A retail value or an insurance value on this one would be about $1,500 to $2,000. Now, a lot of people say, it's broken. It's not worth hardly anything at all, right? And on many things that's true, but on Meissen about 60% of all Meissen figures that I ever see are damaged. And because so many are damaged... that they still hold a good value. On the damaged one, I would say a retail value on that would probably be, as-is, around $600 or $800.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The total of this wonderful pair would be between $2,100 and $2,800.

GUEST:
Very nice. Because we really do like them, they'll go back in the china closet.

APPRAISER:
Great. There were a series of cherubs, about ten or 20 different ones all doing different things with your heart.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
David Lackey Antiques & Art
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2004)
$2,100 Retail$2,800 Retail
Event
Reno, NV (August 14, 2004)
Period
19th Century
Form
Figurine
Material
Porcelain

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