Ask A Worthologist Question: Rosenthal Figurine

James M. bought this Rosenthal figurine in a box lot of odds and ends at a country auction for $12. Wanting to know what exactly it is and that the marking meant, he contacted WorthPoint’s Ask a Worthologist service.

James M. spotted this Rosenthal figurine in a box lot of odds and ends at a country auction last year and bought the box for the huge sum of $12. Most of the other stuff in the box—table-top bric-a-brac—appeared to date from the 1930s, but it was the figurine that caught his eye as potentially Art Deco and possibly worth a good deal more than the $12 he paid for the lot. James, who has no plans on selling the piece and just wants to know the history of it and the artist who designed it, contacted WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service to inquire about this piece, its origins and value. His inquiry was forwarded to me. Here’s his question:

“I found this Rosenthal figurine of two girls dancing in a box lot of 1930s coasters, bottle openers and ash trays at a farm auction last year. The sale featured mainly farm equipment, so there were not a lot of collectors or antique dealers there, and I picked up the lot for $12. It’s marked “Rosenthal” on the bottom and is stamped “H.Meisel” and “956.” It has a real Art Deco look to it, which is what caught my eye. I really don’t want to sell it, but everyone who looks at it is impressed with it and asks me what I know about it. So now I’m quite curious. What I’d like to know is a history of this piece and what the mark H. Meisel is, which I assume to be the artist who designed it.”

Here’s my response.

I simply must get out to more farm auctions in the future. This piece is indeed a great Art Deco-style example, the marking “H.Meisel” is the mark of the original artist who designed this piece, Hugo Meisel (1887-1966).

Meisel is reported to have worked for Rosenthal in1936 and1937, pretty much the peak of the Art Deco period, but he also designed pieces for several other firms, such as Schwarzburger, Aelteste Volkstedter, and Heubach as well. The Rosenthal mark on your piece dates to 1937.

The Rosenthal mark.

As a sculptor, Meisel portrayed his figures like a photograph, freezing motion or a thoughtful moment, such as can be seen in this “Two Girls Dancing” figural group. Meisel not only produced a wide range of human studies, he also is well known for his sculptures of birds, horses and dogs. In the past year, this same figurine has been listing with presale auction estimates in the $1,000-$1,500 range and selling within that range. Not a bad return for your $12, and you also have all those Art Deco bottle openers, coasters and ashtrays to go with it.

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


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