What is it and What’s it Worth?

 

Zsolnay is noted for introducing eosin, a light red iridescent glaze, in 1893. This early Zsolnay eosin iridescent vase sold for $10,466 in 2016.

Do you have any pieces in your collection that have a red iridescent glaze? If so, then you might have a treasure on your hands.  This early Zsolnay eosin vase is a beautiful example of the eosin process that produced an iridescent look. The eosin glaze actually came in all different colors.  Our Worthopedia has over 8,000 listings for Zsolnay. Learn more about Zsolnay and take your knowledge of ceramics to the next level. 

History

In 1853, Miklós Zsolnay (1800-1880) and his son Ignác (1826-1900) established a stoneware and ceramics factory in Pécs, Hungary.  Miklós turned over the factory to Ignác in 1854.  Miklós’ son Vilmos Zsolnay (1828-1900) joined the firm in 1863 and purchased the factory grounds and buildings in 1864.  Ignác remained as manager.  Vilmos took over as manager in 1865.

Beginning at the 1873 Vienna World Fair, Zsolnay achieved worldwide recognition.  Zsolnay received a Grand Prix at the 1878 Paris World Fair. In 1879, Ernst Wahliss became the exclusive distributor for Zsolnay outside Hungary.

This candy dish is from Zsolnay’s pyrogranite period. It sold for $122 in 2017.

In 1886, Zsolnay developed pyrogranite, a material that was acid and frost free.  It was used to create indoor and outdoor ceramics and roof tiles.  Zsolnay introduced eosin, a light red iridescent glaze, in 1893.  Additional colors followed, quickly becoming a favorite of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) artist.

Vilmos Zsolnay was awarded the Franz Joseph Order by the Austro-Hungarian government and was made an honorary town city of Pécs.  Starting in 1879, Zsolnay employed several artists including Sándor Apáti Abt, Henrik Darilek, Lajo Mack and Geza Nikelsky.

Tádé Sikorski (1852 – 1940) married Vilmos’ daughter Júlia and eventually became the chief designer.  Vilmos’ son Miklós assumed control of the company in 1900.

By 1914, Zsolnay was the largest ceramic firm in the Austro-Hungary.  Zsolnay produced insulators during World War I.  Zsolnay’s fortunes waned after World War I.  When the Depression was near its end, the situation reversed.  Zolnay’s Budapest location was destroyed in World War II.

Zsolnay was nationalized following the war.  Zsolnay was dropped from the name.  The new firm became Pécs Porcelain Factory.  The company produced tabletop wares.  In 1962, the firm regained its independence.  Zsolnay was added back to the name.

Victor Vasarely and Eva Zeisel were leading designers who worked with Zsolnay in the 1970s and 1980s.  In 1991, Zsolnay Porcelain Manufacture became a stock company.  Five years later it was sold to a private equity company. In September 2008, Zsolnay received a major contract from IKEA.

What to Look For

Zsolnay continues to produce many of its older designs, thus making it difficult to date pieces.  Collectors prefer pre-World War I pieces.

This beautiful reticulated charger sold for $2500 in 2015.

Zsolany produced a wide range of pieces.  Early pieces featured Asian motifsReticulated, highly decorated pieces, similar to those of made by Fischer were produced.  Enamel decoration also was used.

Pippi-Ronai designed a number of Art Nouveau pieces at the beginning of the 20th century. Porcelain figures and sculptural pieces became part of the line after 1900.

Large Zsolnay vessel with lizards and cut-out rim, eosin glaze, Pecs, Hungary, ca. 1900; sold for over $31,000 in 2017.

Zsolnay’s iridescent pieces, especially early examples, attract the most collector interest.  Pieces are found in a variety of shades – blue, green, red, and yellow.

Animal figures are a popular subcategory.

Marks

Early Zsolnay pieces were not marked.

Here you see the tower mark, symbolizing the five medieval churches in Péces.

By 1878, the tower mark, symbolizing the  five medieval churches in Péces, was being used with “Zsolnay / Pécs” beneath.

Tower mark at top of circle inside of which is “ZSOLNAY / PECS” and which has triangles at 1:30, 6:00, and 10:30 o’clock.

Dotted circle with five tower mark in center with reverse “ZSOLNAY PÉCS” beneath.

Tower mark with “ZSOLNAY / PÉCS” to left and initial “TJM” to right.

Badge-like mark with upper arch reading “ZSOLNAY HUNGARY” with five crown mark in center over banner with “18  68” beneath which is a reverse double arch with “HAND PAINTED” and “PÉCS” above.

Single tower with reverse arch banner at bottom inside of which is “ZSOLNAY BUDAPEST,” cross to right.

Shield inside of which is “ZSOLNAY / BUDAPEST” over dragon on left and five church mark on right.

Zsolnay used a series of incised numbers that signify form and production date.


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