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Ask A Worthologist Question: Rosenthal Porcelain Horse

by Mike Wilcox (04/18/11).

Sandra B. bought this porcelain figure at an auction two years ago, but because as she was moving, it was packed away soon after she bought it. She engaged WorthPoint’s “Ask A Worthologist” service to discover its value.

Sandra B. bought this porcelain figure at an auction two years ago, but because as she was moving, it was packed away soon after she bought it. She had meant to do a little research on it, but forgot all about until she cleared out the storage locker she rented to contain all of the overflow from her old apartment. She contacted WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service to check its value and history. The inquiry was forwarded to me. Here’s her question:

“ I bought this figurine at a estate sale auction about two years ago. It caught my eye because it was so powerful and realistic; it seemed like a photograph, freezing the motion of the horse to stop motion. I paid more than I planned at $185, but I had to have it. It does have some markings pressed into the bottom that reads, “Prof T. Karner,” and a mark that looks like it says Rosenthal with a crown and a cross. I’d like to know what the marks mean, and anything you can tell me about it.”

Here’s my response:

The marking “Prof T. Karner” indicates the designer’s name; in this case it means the original creator of this piece was Professor Theodor Karner (1884-1966). Karner worked for a number for well-known German porcelain makers such as Nymphenburg, Rosenthal, Allach, Eschenbach and Thomas & Lindner. His work comprised of a wide range of animal, bird and Art Deco nude figures, his horses are nearly all in action poses—running, rearing, charging—and, as you say, appear to have been frozen in motion.

This particular study of a rampant horse was designed as Model 1524 by Karner, circa 1934, for Rosenthal, a company well-known for its high-quality porcelain figurines. Karner also designed a modified version of it as Model 74 for Allach Porcelain in 1937. Its design was widely copied, with some variations by other companies right through the 1950s.

A great many of the Rosenthal horses do now sell at auction for less than the $185 you paid for yours, but this piece is an exception and a good buy. Yours is a lovely piece, and is one of the best examples of Karner’s Rosenthal pre-Second World War horses. The most current auction listing we have on file for a Karner 1524 on file, dating from March 28, 2011 lists it as sold for $579.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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