Earlier this year I wrote about a pair of Wagner-signed cabinet plates bearing an unusual mark: a rose or berry, with a Silesia stamp beneath. As illustrated in that post, I was unable to match the mark with a porcelain manufactory and concluded with a request that if any other items with the same mark should turn up, I’d love to hear about them. A helpful reader has let me know about a set of six plates, not only bearing the same rose mark but with a marvelously unusual rim design as well! I’m very happy to be able to share photos of them here.
One of the six portrait designs (Astana) matches one shown in my previous post. All of them have the blue bindenschild (so-called “beehive”) mark but unlike the plates in my earlier post, these do NOT also say “Silesia.” The reason for this will be explained later.
The rim design of these plates is truly amazing; can you imagine the time it took to laboriously apply each perfectly round “dot” of paint?!? There are more than 150 individual ‘dots’ applied within each gilded swag section (yes, I confess I counted them) and there eight such sections per plate. That means at least 1200 dots applied per plate. I don’t know about you, but my eyes would probably be crossing after the fiftieth dot! (maybe even sooner)
All six plates are currently being offered individually for sale online by their owner on eBay and also on their stand-alone website, Dingo’s Collections. Each main (first) image is a direct link to that plate’s eBay listing which contains additional photographs. The plates are also viewable as a group of search results at this link. My thanks again for permission to use these photographs here. 😊
Plates are shown below in alphabetical order by title. They are 9.75” in diameter.
Solitude is marked likewise. Depending on the individual plate, sometimes the letter following the red-painted 29 looks a bit more like an L than an A but I believe this is probably just due to artists’ handwriting differences.
Una Gitana translates to “a gypsy” in Spanish. The use of French or Spanish titles seems to have been purely arbitrary at whatever point the Wagner consortium of artists were assigning them to the various portraits.
The consistency of pattern/design numbers on this set is striking: Every one is marked 659 under the title, 646/659 along the rim, and either 29A or 29L depending on how one interprets that final letter. If the 29 marks are not all the same, I am completely stumped as to what that number could refer to. Perhaps 659 was the number they assigned to this particular series of plates. But perhaps that is the meaning of 646? Or is 646 the colorway (red) code within rim design #659? Or vice versa?? This is the sort of thing that inspires *headdesk* incidents on the part of researchers. 😊
The Rose Mark, Revisited
Although modern porcelain items use decals for most or all elements of their backstamps, the marks on antique and some vintage items were often a combination of paint-stamps and hand painting. The ‘obscuring marks’ discussed in my previous post were often stamps, because they were intended to fully cover a previously applied mark. Let’s do some side-by-side examinations of the rose marks on this set of plates.
These marks were obviously all hand painted because each is slightly different. But look very closely at the part of each mark where the main part of the flower joins the lower petals and notice how ‘smudgy’ that area is… and, in particular, the straight smudgy lines that extend into at least one of those petals. Doesn’t it seem a bit out of character with the more defined brush strokes in the rest of the design? In four of the marks (Astana, Meditation, Una Gitana, and Gracieuse) at least one of those lines appears to have a “foot” or base. Could the rose mark be covering another porcelain maker’s original stamp?
It turns out that this is indeed the case! Here are two examples of the crossed hammer/crown mark that was used by the Fischer & Mieg (sometimes misspelled Meig) factory that operated in what was originally Bohemia, then Austria, and eventually Czechoslovakia. Later examples of their wares have Czechslovakia stamped beneath or as part of this logo.
This is the rose mark on Una Gitana with the image zoomed and sharpened. The original green Fischer & Mieg mark can now be clearly seen underneath. Their factory opened in 1803; a detailed history of the works, translated from the original German and with a contemporaneous painting of the factory as it was in the early 1830s, is at this link.
This mark, in green, was used by the Fischer and Mieg factory from 1873 until 1918, thus dating the physical production of this plate set to within a 45-year period. But why the “coverup”? It was nothing nefarious; quite the contrary, in fact. The laws of the day said that if a piece of porcelainware was altered in any way, including by decoration, the original maker’s mark had to be covered up. And thus in applying the rose mark to the logo-stamped but probably otherwise blank plates that they obtained from Fischer & Mieg, this Wagner painter (or group) was simply being law-abiding.
But what about the previous pair of rose-marked plates? It appears likely that those blanks were obtained by them from the Ohme factory, even though only one of them just faintly shows a mere trace of the reddish crown-over-O mark above the Silesia stamp. These rose marks are slightly different in style, which may be because they were done by a different artist or perhaps a different Wagner “shop.” What we still don’t know is which company commissioned these plates to be decorated by the Wagner group; they would have been the ones to dictate the form of the obscuring (rose) mark.
However, the plates in these two posts may offer a rough indication of where the Wagner painting operation was. Both the Ohme and the Pirkenhammer factories were located in the Moravian-Silesian region of what eventually became the Czech republic. It’s very likely that the Wagner decorators were in that region also, perhaps within easy wagon-reach of their materials source. At the time these plates were made, this area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, i.e., Bohemia; it is in the northeastern part of Czechoslovakia today.
It would be interesting to eventually find other Wagner items with this rose mark to see if they obtained their ‘greenware’ from other porcelain factories as well. If we can identify the marks that are sub rosa (sorry, could not resist), their output might be more narrowly defined as to age and/or location. There is a direct contact form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page if anyone would like to help unravel the “mystery of the rose”.
Again, many thanks to Dingo for the heads-up and photos of this fascinating set of Wagner cabinet plates!