Quick Facts About R.S. Prussia
- Reinhold Schlegelmilch produced R.S. Prussia porcelain at his factory in the town that is now Suhl, Germany from the late 1800s through the beginning of World War I.
- Pieces bearing an "R.S. Prussia" mark in red lettering surrounded by a green wreath were made at the turn of the last century. This "red mark" is the most popular and recognized with collectors.
- The most valuable pieces of R.S. Prussia feature décor other than florals such as portraits, animals, classical themes and landscapes. Unusual objects and mold shapes are also prized by collectors.
- R.S. Prussia reproductions are plentiful, but their thick porcelain, incomplete marks and decaled decorations can be recognized fairly easily by avid collectors.
History of R.S. Prussia
Reinhold Schlegelmilch produced what collectors consider to be R.S. Prussia in his factory from the late 1800s through World War I. Pieces marked "R.S. Prussia" in red lettering surrounded by a green wreath were made at the turn of the last century. This is sometimes referred to as the "red" mark, and remains the most popular and recognized mark with dealers and collectors although many other signatures were used.
It's also good to know (according to the International Association of R.S. Prussia Collectors Web site) that most of the historical information on this type of porcelain published prior to 1994 appears to be inaccurate. Reinhold and Erdmann Schlegelmilch were long thought to be brothers jointly operating one factory, but they actually ran two different factories located in Suhl, Germany in direct competition with one another. Collecting organizations often continue research for years ferreting out truths and discarding inaccuracies, which is another good reason for joining up with them to exchange information whenever possible.
Condition Factors to Consider
Despite all the controversy over the history, when you think about the age on RSP pieces, with most being around more than 100 years now, these treasures have held up extraordinarily well. Still, all pieces need to be checked for damage before they are purchased.
Knobs on coffee pot lids, teapots and sugar bowls should receive a thorough inspection as prime candidates for being re-glued after being damaged. Running a finger along bowl edges, plates and pots will detect any rough spots where chips and less severe "chigger bites" may be hiding.
Holding pieces to the light can indicate cracks and glues used in repairs. Some people even carry a pocket-sized black light along while shopping to help detect repairs since the glue will often fluoresce when held under ultraviolet light.
Just because a piece has been repaired, especially if it's a rare item, doesn't mean it shouldn't be purchased. However, the quality of the repair should be considered when determining value. Only pieces with professionally applied repairs should bring top value on the secondary market.
Evaluating the Quality and Desirability of R.S. Prussia Pieces
When considering the desirability of R.S. Prussia, don't forget to evaluate the way it's decorated and the quality of the porcelain. Some RSP pieces were more carefully decorated than others. To fetch top value, this porcelain should be delicately crafted and finely finished.
Floral decor, generally considered more common, doesn't command as much attention as pieces featuring portraits, animals, classical and scenic themes. In addition to beautiful decorations, various finishes adorn many RSP pieces. Some have "jewels" decorated to imitate opals, others have a finish similar to the iridescent look popularized by Tiffany and Co. Lavish gold embellishments enhance many of the gaudiest, and most popular, RSP pieces.
Evaluating the various mold shapes is another interesting aspect of learning about this porcelain. Molds used vary from simple to extremely ornate, and with most avid collectors, the fancier the better. Blown out flowers, ornately shaped handles and spouts, and beautifully curving finials all add to the appeal of RSP. Chocolate pots with matching demitasse cups and dresser items such as hatpin holders and hair receivers were all made by the Schlegelmilch factory in addition to the more common bowls, plates and creamer and sugar sets most frequently found.
Identifying R.S. Prussia Reproductions
As with most expensive and popular antiques, there are reproductions being passed off as genuine R.S. Prussia too. It's wise to handle as many genuine pieces of R.S. Prussia as possible to get a feel for the real thing. When identifying RSP repros, look for:
SEE PAGE 2 FOR INFORMATION ON R.S. PRUSSIA VALUES