In a struggling global market, some sectors are less affected by the crisis, major collectors in Europe and around the world of porcelain, even the most selective and careful, do not give up high-level acquisitions of workmanship and rarities at an acceptable price.
Let’s take a detailed look at how the market moves in this particular sector by analyzing the major manufacturing houses.
The first hard porcelain in Europe turns out to be a creation of Johann Friedrich Böttger, a German alchemist who, after a long search for the philosopher’s stone, was forced by Augustus the Strong to move on to more useful research. Assisted by Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, after many years of trial and error, he succeeded in obtaining hard porcelain from a mixture of kaolin, alabaster, quartz, and China Stone. The porcelain manufactured took the name Meissen, or Dresden porcelain.
From the results of these early experiments, the world-renowned porcelain factories that we still know today were born: the French porcelain factories of Limonges and Sèvres; the Italian porcelain factories of Capodimonte and Ginori; the Danish porcelain factories Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl; and the English porcelain factories.
In many ways there has been little change in the porcelain market in recent years. Although there is some sense that the market is improving, private collectors, in this precarious period, have been ready to buy only when rare and excellent quality items were competitively priced.
The industry leader Sèvres and Meissen produced on demand, particularly in the 18th century. The ‘golden age’ of Meissen, was from the early years of its establishment until the end of the Seven Years’ War (1710-1759), but still their porcelain production is very strong. Of the pieces belonging to the period from 1710 to 1759, some collectors are willing to accept even slightly damaged items. However, the level has evened out by competing even with competition from other manufactures, except for one-of-a-kind pieces that have been distinguished by their special features.
The pieces from Dresden, Vienna, and Limoges have to be particularly impressive to get a rating approaching that of the aforementioned big names.
Another area still in trouble is 18th- and 19th-century British for which buyers, would only pay for pieces in excellent and very rare condition.
Large plates are also required, but not if they have a common pattern depicted.
However, once again rarity is the key factor. Woolley & Wallis sold a miniature model of a hare, sitting scratching its left ear with one paw, and the fur was finely etched, for about £5,500 ($7,000). The rarity and “sweetness” of this figure ensured this excellent price.
Another famous porcelain factory that is of the same trend is Lowestoft, but only on the condition that rare subjects and patterns are represented, and always on offer.
Nantgarw and Swansea are still in some demand for rarity and superb quality.
Royal Worcester with its vases, painted by artists such as Charles Baldwin, Harry Davis, and the Stintons, still enjoy a large segment of collectors, and prices have remained stable, as long as the pieces are of appropriate sizes and possibly are market novelties.
As we could tell from the body of this article (taken from Judith Miller’s Antiques handbook and price guide) the porcelain market is, and will be even more so in the coming years, enlivened by acquisitions by individuals and collectors only under certain conditions.