It’s all in the Marks: No, It`s not Early Meissen

The original Meissen entwined AR (Augustus Rex) mark.

Contrary to many who believe that advertising and product branding was mainly a Madison Avenue/20th-century marketing innovation, “branding”—the marketing of a name, or even profiting off a competitors reputation—dates back to antiquity. When it comes to pottery and porcelain, there were dozens of smaller potteries that attempted to cash in on the prestige of famous makers of the 17th through 19th centuries, such as Meissen, Sevres, Derby, Worcester and others. Meissen was a favorite target of these smaller potteries, which used a mark similar to Meissen’s famous “crossed swords” marking until the company began to take legal action against the infringement of its markings during the late 19th century.

The first Wolfsohn studio AR mark, adopted by Emilie Wolfsohn in 1878.

One lesser known marks that were copied was the entwined “AR” (Augustus Rex), which was first used by the Meissen factory was granted Royal patronage by Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), the elector of Saxony and later as the King of Poland as King August II. A version of this mark was later adopted by the Dresden studio of Helena Wolfsohn, who had operated this very successful decorating studio since 1843, using the blanks made by other companies. When her daughter Emilie took over the operation in 1878, she began using the entwined AR marking the following year. The certainty of the date they first used it because she was immediately sued by Meissen, originators of the mark, but the case—as these things in court can—dragged on until 1883 when the studio was finally forced to completely stop using that mark.

The modified Wolfsohn studio AP mark, with an arrow/scepter pointing upwards through the center.

During the intervening four years, while the courts took its time dealing with this case, instead of stopping the use of the AR mark, the Wolfsohn studio changed it slightly. The second A.R. mark inserted an arrow/scepter, pointing upwards through the mark’s center. It didn’t do much good, as the Wolfsohn company still had to compensate Meissen for the use of the AR mark. This caused a considerable financial burden, almost bankrupting the company. The Wolfsohn family eventually sold the company to outside interests in 1906.

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

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