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Meissen Porcelain

March 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 190

Meissen porcelain is the first European hard paste porcelain that was ever made. Production started in 1710. Meissen porcelain is an extremely popular antique to collect, not only because of its status as the first hard paste porcelain in Europe, but also because of the fascinating story of its origins. China had already been making porcelain for centuries and it had become popular among the wealthy and aristocratic throughout Europe, making it a valuable commodity. Sometime around 1700, Johann Friedrich Böttger pretended to have found a way to turn worthless material into gold and was immediately kept in protective custody by King August II of Poland, Elector of Saxony who asked him to create gold. He was kept in protective custody for years, where he tried to perform the trick with no success.

Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, a scientist and mathematician, supervised Böttger during this time while performing his own experiments to try and create porcelain. In 1707, Böttger started helping Tschirnhaus who soon died, leaving his work in Böttger's hands. Within a week Böttger told the King that he could make porcelain. After refining the formula and hiring some Dutch workers experienced in the firing and painting of tiles, Böttger was ready to start production. The first factory was established in 1709 by the King and production officially started in 1710. Meissen porcelain is still made to this day.


The earliest pieces made by the factory were red stoneware, many of which had incised Chinese characters on them. It was not until 1713 that the company started producing pieces of white, hard paste porcelain that could be glazed and painted and are traditionally seen as Meissen porcelain. The company was heavily influenced by Chinese designs from the start and much of its dinnerware and figures have a Chinese aesthetic. When Böttger died in 1719, Johann Gregorius Höroldt took over the factory and created a range of enamel colours that were used to decorate the pieces. Designs painted on the pieces from this period were often of scenes from the orient.

Throughout the years Meissen porcelain has produced many popular patterns, including the original Swan Service pattern made between 1737 and 1743. Pieces with this pattern are some of the most sought after pieces of antique porcelain in the world. Other popular patterns include the purple leaf pattern and the vine leaf pattern, as well as the blue onion pattern. Meissen porcelain is also well known for its dragon designs. Pieces of Meissen porcelain are generally easy to distinguish as they have carried a mark that is some variation of two blue crossed swords since 1723. Although there are some pieces that have incised marks of crossed swords instead. However, due to the popularity of Meissen there are many imitators, so a piece bearing a mark of two crossed swords could also be a forgery.

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