It’s all in the Marks: Kalk’s Crossed-Arrows, ‘Erich Stauffer’ Used in Knockoffs
This Kalk German porcelain crossed-arrow mark on what looks like a 19th-century Rococo style wall hanging was made by Arnart Creations, which contracted out the creation of figurines and decorative porcelain items to companies in Japan, Germany and Taiwan that were exported to the United State and other countries beginning about 1953.
To collectors, well-seasoned or novice, the subject of determining a maker or origin of a piece can be very confusing if it is outside their normal area of interest. Any markings that can be found can often help unravel the mystery if you know what the marks mean. If you don’t, however, they can lead you well astray of the truth. In this series of Q&A articles, I’m going to answer the questions I hear most often regarding marks on antiques and provide a straight path off an often twisted trail, as our first question indicates.
QUESTION: I have a what I’ve been told is a late 19th-century Rococo style Kalk German porcelain wall hanging of a woman with a cherub/cupid holding a scroll mounted above her. It has the Kalk crossed-arrow marking with a series of numbers below it, but I’ve not been able to match this piece with other Kalk pieces. I’d like to verify what I have.
ANSWER: While Kalk did use a crossed-arrow marking with numbers, it only used single or double digits. Based on the marking on yours, it’s not German, late 19th century or even by Kalk. Your piece is actually Japanese, dates from the 1950s and was marketed by a company called Arnart Creations. Arnart contracted out the creation of figurines and decorative porcelain items to companies in Japan, Germany and Taiwan that were exported to the United State and other countries beginning about 1953.
Arnart used not only variants of Kalk. It also use a “crossed sword” mark like the famous maker Meissen and version of the “beehive” marking used on Royal Vienna Porcelain. Amart’s product line was large, making figurines with everything from 18th-century Meissen-style figures to some very convincing Hummel knock-offs under the name of “Erich Stauffer” (see the question below for more details). Amart’s U.S. office was originally located at 212 5th Ave. In New York City, moving to 230 Fifth Avenue around 2001. As far as I’m aware, it is still in business.
The name “Erich Stauffer” is on the bottom of some Hummels-like figurines but they are not genuine Hummels. They were made by made by Arnart Creations.
Genuine Hummels have the signature of Sister M.I. Hummel on the base of most every piece and have a Goebel porcelain trademark on its underside.
QUESTION: My mother collected Hummels, which I inherited last year. These three must be rare, as I’ve not been able to find then anywhere online. They are not marked Hummel, but were designed by Erich Stauffer, who I’ve been told worked for Hummel in the late 1930s. There is also a blue crossed-arrow marking with numbers beneath it. I’m excited about these pieces. What can you tell me about them?
ANSWER: It’s easy to see why your mother purchased these and why so many people confuse these “Erich Stauffer’s” with genuine Hummels. Genuine Hummels are clearly marked as such, and the pieces’ history, production periods and models are very well documented. On genuine Hummels, the signature of Sister M.I. Hummel can be found incised on the base of most every piece, and every authentic M.I. Hummel figurine will also have a Goebel porcelain trademark on its underside.
Your three were made for Arnart Creations in the 1950s, and were some of many decorative lines contracted out by this company and produced in Japan. Unlike the creator of the original Hummels, Berta Hummel, “Eric Stauffer” appears to be an unknown—or quite possibly just an invention used to sell figures via a German-sounding designer’s name. These Arnart Hummel knockoffs have caused a number of legends to be created, probably by hopeful collectors thinking they’d stumbled on a rare prototype of a pre-Second World War Hummel from the 1930s or a one-of-a-kind presented to visiting diplomats or retiring workers. These stories are very intriguing but unfortunately none of these legends are true.
This vase looks like it could be French cameo glass, but the mark on the bottom says “Kelsey/Pilgrim.”
The piece was made by the Pilgrim Glass Company, produced under the leadership of designed Kelsey Murphy.
QUESTION: I picked up this vase at a local Goodwill store a while ago because it reminded me of French cameo glass I’d see on the Antiques Roadshow. It does not match anything I’ve been able to find by French or Bohemian glass makers and I think it might be Art Glass by some small unknown studio. The artist’s name is on the bottom is Kelsey Pilgrim. Have you heard of her?
ANSWER: Actually, what you have is not really from a small studio but from the Pilgrim Glass Company, although technically it could be considered “Art Glass.” Kelsey Pilgrim is not the name of the artist though, but a mark used on limited production pieces by Pilgrim under the leadership of Kelsey Murphy (American, born 1944), who joined the company about 1987.
Pilgrim Glass Co. was founded by Alfred Knoblerin 1949 after the purchase of Tri-State Glass Manufacturing Company in Huntington, W.V. In 1956, Pilgrim Glass built a new production facility in Ceredo, W.V. The company ceased operations in 2002.
Pilgrim brought out a line of cameo glass Murphy’s direction. The process differed from the original French cameo glass, using sandblasting where hand scribing or acid etching would have been used on the originals. All pieces are signed by Kelsey and in some cases numbered.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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