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Brief History of Volkstedt Porcelain:

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The history of Volkstedt porcelain dates to 1760 in Thuringia, Germany, when an entrepreneur by the name of Georg Heinrich Macheleid approached the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt.  Macheleid requested the exclusive privilege to build a porcelain factory within his principality.  The prince, Johann Friedrich, agreed to Macheleid's request with one condition: his exclusive right to produce porcelain in the principality would be maintained so long as no one else in the region was able to verifiably produce a superior product.  In exchange, the deal assured Macheleid's factory a constant supply of firewood, tax exemption for four years, low jurisdiction for the factory, religious freedom, and the right to produce all the food the factory would need within its own grounds.  Essentially, the porcelain factory quickly became self-sustaining, a village unto itself.  In addition, all the materials needed to produce the porcelain could be obtained from nearby regions.  These included sand from Rudostaldt, Kapselton-a special type of clay used by the factory-from Coburg, and porcelain mass and glaze from Sitzendorf. To view Volkstedt porcelain marks, click here.

While the early years were difficult for the Volkstedt porcelain factory, by the late 18th century the company was producing a high volume of merchandise that earned it renown throughout Europe.  The Volkstedt factory produced everything from porcelain dinnerware, vases, candlesticks, basins, boxes, and of course, figurines.  A catalogue of 1795 claimed to offer 90 different types of figurines.  By the mid-nineteenth century, the Volkstedt factory began producing the famous lace figurines.  Also known as "Dresden lace," the effect was accomplished when real cotton lace was dipped in soft paste porcelain and then fired.  The fabric burned away, leaving a fragile porcelain "lace" shell that, though delicate, could withstand the test of time given proper care.  A number of fine examples of these porcelain lace products, including the famous Volkstedt lace ballerinas, can be found among our collection.

The exclusive privilege of this original Volkstedt factory was revoked in 1832, opening the way for smaller porcelain workshops to be opened in the region.  One example was the operation begun by Anton Müller.  His porcelain lace figurines gained immediate renown.  His pieces can be identified by his stamp trademark: the crown over the letters 'MV," which stands for Müller - Volkstedt.  By the late 1930's his operation had blossomed and was exporting worldwide, along with the older Volkstedt factory, which continues production to this day.

Müller - Volkstedt encountered more difficulties in the 20th century than the older factory, however.  The factory was completely destroyed during the allied bombings of World War II.  Although Anton Müller himself died at this time, his niece Johanna Saar was able to salvage some of the old master moulds and rebuilt the factory in 1945.  The Saar family eventually moved the operation to Ireland, and the factory currently known as 'Irish Dresden" was opened in Dromcolliher, Limerick, and continues to operate to the present day. More...

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