Royal Vienna Porcelain
Royal Vienna porcelain – a collector’s moniker – is associated with the “beehive” mark. The famous beehive backstamp is in fact a shield, which, when viewed upside down, resembles a beehive.
The majority of classically-themed cabinet plates bearing the beehive mark and made circa 1880-1940 are known as Royal Vienna, in reference to the style in which they were decorated.
Original Royal Vienna was produced from 1744-1864. It is a great deal rarer and more valuable than newer items.
The origins of Royal Vienna porcelain reside with a pair of Meissen employees. This crafty pair of took the porcelain formula used to create Meissen’s celebrated hard paste wares to Vienna during the early 1700s, where they shared the recipe with Claude Innocentius Du Paquier. Du Paquier began using the formula in 1717, producing hard paste porcelain wares in the style of his German rivals.
In 1744, Du Paquier decided to sell his porcelain manufactory to the Austrian royal family, having run into financial difficulty. Although Du Paquier’s early wares were unmarked, the Royal Family used what has come to be known as the beehive mark – the family crest.
The Imperial and Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Vienna became the most important porcelain manufacturer in the area and continued to make fine hand-decorated porcelain wares until 1864.
Pieces produced at the Royal Porcelain Manufactory under the Dutch Royal family are rare and highly sought after by collectors. However, reproductions are common and are sometimes sold dishonestly as originals.
A number of other companies produced porcelain crown-marked “Royal Vienna” – a mark that is also used on many reproduction pieces. Another common mark reads “Handpainted Vienna China”. These marks largely date to the first half of the twentieth century and aren’t nearly as coveted as beehive or shield marked items.
The best way to ensure that you are buying genuine antique porcelain is to educate yourself before making a purchase. Newer wares are generally heavier than older wares, and are decaled rather than handpainted. Newer wares are often glazed and then marked – so the mark features over the glaze. Older pieces will boast the beehive mark under the glaze.
The bindenschild (shield) in the mark was a rendition of the center of the Coat-of-Arms for the royal Austrian Habsburg family. The Imperial and Royal Porcelain Manufactory used the marks impressed in the clay or blue ink underglaze from 1744 until 1864. Just because the mark is blue underglaze or an impressed mark that does not make it an authentic item.
A Royal Vienna covered vase and pedestal sold for $2,000 at John Moran Auctioneers in May 2006.
A Royal Vienna cabinet plate sold for $120 at Ken’s Antiques and Auction in May 2007.
A Royal Vienna portrait tray sold for $110 at Jim Wroda Auction Services in July 2011.
A pair of Royal Vienna decorative plates sold for $260 at Lilly Auction & Realty Co. in January 2011.
A Royal Vienna two-handled vase sold for $160 at Lilly Auction & Realty Co. in January 2011.
A Royal Vienna urn sold for $1,700 at Time and Again Auction Gallery in June 2005.
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