By Sherri Hall-Wilcox
Sarreguemines Vaisselle was established in 1748 in the city of Sarreguemines in the Northeast of France. This region was chosen for natural resources needed to produce ceramic in the 18th century, such as clay, an abundant water supply and wood, which was the sole source of energy. Beginning in the 19th century, Sarreguemines Vaisselle replaced clay with kaolin and wood with coal to fire the kilns. Later gas replaced coal as the primary source of energy. Some 250 years later, all of these natural resources are still found only miles from Sarreguemine’s Vaisselle factory.
Following the French-German war of 1870, the Sarreguemines region became part of Germany and prohibitive Customs duties were imposed. To avoid this, the factory was moved in 1872 to the city of Digoin, 250 miles southwest. Due to its reputation, Sarreguemines Vaisselle kept its name and the factory has remained in Digoin ever since. The company was awarded 12 gold medals in international competitions during the 19th century. Such was its reputation even Napoleon Bonaparte bought pieces, which can still be found today at Versailles and at the Trianon.
Dating Sarreguemines Pottery by the Marks:
A lot of the Sarreguemines pieces are clearly marked. The company has used many different marks over the centuries, which enables us to date most pieces.
• Typically, you will see the word “SARREGUEMINES” either impressed or printed. The impressed version was in use until circa 1900. The company used the printed mark after 1900.
• Between 1870 and 1890, the impressed Sarreguemines often has “MAJOLICA” impressed above it.
• Quite often, Sarreguemines pieces have several impressed numbers. The number existing of 3 or 4 figures usually refers to the model. One number between 1 and 4 refers to the size, and the last two digits refer to the production year (like 05 for 1905)
• The impressed “U & C” within an octagon stands for Utzschnieder et Company and was in use until 1890. From 1881 on you can find majolica marked as Sarreguemines D & V.
• Sometimes Sarreguemines pieces are marked “ESDEVE”. ESDEVE (read SDV) stands for Sarreguemines, Digoin, Vitry-le-Francois, with Digoin and Vitry being the two companies that Sarreguemines had created earlier when Sarreguemines was annexed to Germany.
• The ESDEVE mark was in use until circa 1930.
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