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Subject:Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Michael Thu, Jan 01, 2009 IP:

Dear Forum Members,

After doing substantial research on this pair of tankards I'm posting here in hope you can help solve the puzzle of where and when these were made or identify the maker's mark.

Initially these appear to be European tankards however I can not find a comparable and some of the attributes point more toward an origin in the East.

I posted these pictures and had a bit of a discussion with an International stein collector’s forum and reached no definitive conclusion.

While the shape of the tankards is western the same shape is known to have been produced in Chinese/Japanese exports. The reason I mention Japan is I believe in the 18th and 19th centuries Japan supplemented the export production from China to the west.

The underglaze blue pattern was used by European porcelain manufactures such as Copenhagen, Worcester, and Meiseen known by the names "Immortelle" and "Blue Fluted". Royal Copenhagen still uses the later to this day. While the underglaze pattern is similar the blue-fluted is just that, the porcelain is fluted, that is, ribbed. So the more accurate historical name for this pattern in Europe is "Immortelle".

While researching these tankards relative to the European makers I kept coming across the phrase "a pattern which originated in China" and as of yet I've not been able to find any examples of this pattern on a piece that is known to be made in China or Japan.

I have found several examples of tankards that appear very similar in shape, decoration, with attribution to 19th century European makers however they are not marked in any way and all of them have lithophane bottoms.

The pewter mounts are consistent with known European mounts of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

The attributes of these that suggest to me an origin in the East include

***The flat and unglazed base is more like that of 18th century Chinese export than any European base.

***The application style/technique of the underglaze blue looks more consistent with Arita than Europe.

***The gilt highlighting is not seen on European examples

And last but not least is the maker’s mark on the interior of the lids and on the bases. I have poured through literally thousands of known European maker’s marks and have found none coming close to these marks. These marks remind me of pseudo Western marks applied on Chinese export pieces.
Your help in solving this puzzle is greatly appreciated.


Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Patrick Norton Thu, Jan 01, 2009

I have a lot of tankards that appear very similar in shape. Mine are all West Germany and King and dark blue. Might ck W. Germany.

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Patrick Norton Fri, Jan 02, 2009

Found something interesting. 2007-01-28 09:02 A ship-load of ancient Chinese ceramics, mostly blue and white dishes and cups, are believed to be European market-oriented tea wares from Jingdezhen, the famous porcelain capital in China. It is estimated that a sum in excess of two million euros (about 2.6 million US dollars) will be realized from the sale of the Chinese ceramics dating from about 1725 - all of which have for centuries lain lost and forgotten in the waters of the South China Sea. Among the tens of thousands of pieces to be offered are vast quantities of all manner of wares - everything from fine blue and white tea services, to porcelain boxes and "beer mugs," to delightful polychrome figures. with 130,000 pieces of China's Qing Dynasty junk retrieved form the site. This extensive hoard will be offered in some 1,500 lots, with estimates ranging from 100 to 10,000 euros. Proceeds from the sale is said to go to the Vietnamese government.

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Cal Fri, Jan 02, 2009

Don't forget Bing & Grondahl. German jugs of and mugs of the 1920s-1930s also had white-metal or pewter fittings. Such metal work with some silver content (not pewter) can be tarnished by exposure to mild chemical, such as put in plastic bag with hard-boiled egg in refrigerator for week.

Old pewter turns dark gray, not brown, with age, and would not create an iron-rust stain on the edges of the porcelain it is in contact with.

The metalwork here looks like distressed silver plate.

While some 17th century Chinese porcelain made-to-order for export did try to copy the European inscriptions of their Delft-type models, I don't know of any that tried to copy any makers' marks on the base of wares. In any case, while some Dutch Delft wares were marked (not all that commonly), the vast majority such things were not marked.

It is difficult to tell from your poorly lit photos, but the lid inserts look like they are of different batches from the tankard bodies.

There would be no reason to have 19th- and 20th-century European porcelain pseudo-Oriental designs copied in Japan or China in the 17th or 18th century. I don't think the time machine has yet come into practical use.

Possibly someone is trying to reproduce Worcester or Samson wares. Too many details do not add up.

Good luck,

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: bo Fri, Jan 02, 2009

Try to look for "Rauenstein, Germany"

Best wishes

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Michael Sun, Jan 04, 2009

Hi Bo,

Thanks for the lead, I tracked it down, and indeed found this Chritie's auction result for 18th century Rauenstein in the immortelle pattern.

An assembled porcelain blue and white ribbed 'Immortelle' chocolate service

Unfortunately, none of the companies marks come close, see post below.


Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Robert Fri, Jan 02, 2009


It could be 19th c Meissen or from a related factory, in the so-called "Blue Onion" pattern. It appears to be hardpaste or softpaste porcelain rather than delftware. I believe that Meissen made only hardpaste porcelain. The gilding, which seems to be limited to one circumferential line is, as you have noted, unusual on underglaze blue wares.

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Cal Sat, Jan 03, 2009

The pattern does incorporate motif vaguely 'blue onion' shape, but is not done as Meissen and close imitators made in 19th and early 20th centuries.

Is not Meissen of 19th century and certainly not 18th century by any maker.

Good luck,

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Michael Fri, Jan 02, 2009

Here are a few more close-ups.

The gilt is mostly worn off, it was applied over the clear glaze and traced the under glaze blue.


Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Michael Sun, Jan 04, 2009

Thank you all for your kind assistance and replies.

Yes, below is the mark for porcelain from Rauenstein, Germany circa 1783 to 1896.

Yes, the inserts in the lids are the same as the body.

I will keep looking for the mark and/or a known comparable.


Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Dirk Sat, Apr 27, 2019

Did you ever find the answer to this, I have one that looks just like that, with the same marks.

Subject:Re: Blue & White Tankard Puzzle
Posted By: Michael Mon, Apr 29, 2019

Hi Dirk,

Yes, in addition to all the information above the steins were looked at in person by a specialist in German B&W porcelain.

He confirmed they are German, made late 19th century, are decorated in the blue onion pattern, and the marks on the base and inside of lid are ciphers not known to be associated with any particular kiln he is aware of.

Cheers, Michael | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |