Pricing Guides & Dictionary of Makers Marks for Antiques & Collectibles

History of German porcelain marks from 18thC to Now

Porcelain German China Piano Baby
German porcelain Piano Baby

Germany has a long tradition of making porcelain at various factories since the mid-18thC, when Tschirnhaus and Bottger were able to recreate true white porcelain, the likes of which were until then imported directly from China.

Meissen in Saxony, Rosenthal in Bavaria, KPM [Konigliche Porzellan Manufactur] in Berlin, and the various companies in Volkstedt, Thuringia, are the best known major factories in Germany that produced porcelain, mostly in the form of chinaware & dinnerware, figurines & dolls, and general decorative centerpieces. Yet, there are literally hundreds of other smaller porcelain factories and studios that engaged in creating magnificent works of art to the present date. For example, the general area around Dresden, which also happens to be within a couple of miles from the town of Meissen, has seen a dramatic proliferation of porcelain decorating workshops and studios that purchased blanks primarily from the main Meissen factory and had them decorated by hand.


Because most pieces from Dresden were decorated in the same style as Meissen, many of the makers marks used by these studios have striking similarities with the original crossed swords marks used by Meissen. Most of these similar marks have been documented and a collector should be able to identify whether an item is a true authentic Meissen piece. Our databases contain all of these Dresden marks, usually alongside the original Meissen marks for easy and quick comparison. These particular imitations are often as good as the original pieces, but their value is usually somewhat less than items from the actual Meissen or KPM porcelain factories.

Since the late 20thC, there are also many items exported from other countries, especially from China and the Far East in general, that use fake porcelain marks to make their items appear as authentic and as if they are originally from Germany or other European countries. These marks are mostly found on porcelain figurines and also on some chinaware. These reproductions marked with copies of original German porcelain makers marks are also of good quality but lack some of the detailing and fine workmanship you would expect on examples coming from the original factories in Germany. Most are mass-produced and are hurriedly hand-painted. Collectors can often spot the differences quickly, but if needed, our members can ask our specialists to get a second opinion for free and confirm one way or the other.

German Pottery Modernist Vase mid-20th century
German Modernist Pottery Vase mid-20thC

In addition to porcelain production, numerous German companies and studios also engaged in making studio and art pottery, especially in the early to late 20thC. Many of these companies used their own unique pottery marks and their items are prized by collectors for their characteristic use of special glazes and textures. Some are mass-produced and are meant to be used as ordinary decorative pieces around the house or the office. However, most are in the Arts & Crafts style where artisans and potters combine their skills to create very special vases or other interesting ceramic sculptures. The Bauhaus School of Arts & Crafts pioneered and heavily promoted this trend in the 1920s and paved the way for much of the Modernist styled German pottery that dominated the market in the 1960s – 1980s.

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