Thursday, June 3, 2010
Q: When my great-aunt died, I inherited a tray that belonged to her mother. Unfortunately, the tray had been broken and poorly repaired. Newspaper got glued to the back of the tray and covered up part of the mark. Can you tell me who made this and how old it is?
A: You have to be a detective to solve this mystery. First, tear off as much of the bits of newspaper as you can. Search online or in a book of marks for similar marks that include a crown and crossed swords. Some sources list marks by city and country, so look for marks from Selb, Bavaria. (Your local library may have a comprehensive book of marks, like "Kovels' New Dictionary of Marks.") Find something that matches the part of the mark you can read, then look for the remaining letters in the mark. Rosenthal established a factory in Selb, Bavaria, in 1880. Ownership changed several times, but Rosenthal china is still being made in Bavaria (now a state of Germany). The company used marks similar to yours from c.1910 to 1933. After 1910 a series of dots or dashes in different parts of the mark was used to indicate the year. The mark on your tray was used between 1907 and 1910. We can't see the top of the crown, but if there is a dot above it, it was made in 1926. This is a good example of why you should never try to repair a piece of porcelain yourself. If the piece is valuable, it is worth contacting a restoration service that can make invisible repairs.