Pricing Royal Vienna portrait plates
This article discusses various parameters that effect the value of Royal Vienna plates.
Quality of painting is one of the two most important factors when it comes to defining the value of a particular plate. Certain artists
were simply more talented than others, and if you have a good eye, you can tell that right away. Besides the quality of painting,
glazing is also important. Good deep glaze brights up the colors and protects the surface.
This is probably the most important factor. Nice female portraits is what everybody is looking for. Especially semi-nude ones.They
command much higher prices than male portraits. Religious subjects are less desirable, and therefore less valuable.
Border to a Royal Vienna plate is what a good frame is to a painting or a plaque. It could be rich or it could be simple, but it needs
to be in good condition (no or minimal wear to the gilding) and work well with the portrait inside. Most of the plates have a dark
cobalt blue border decorated with a raised gold design. Ivory background is popular too, as well as Art Nouveau style. The most
desirable and expensive border though is the one with raised "jewels".
This is a curious factor, or rather non-factor. If you look at any other "Victorian" antique category such as Royal Worcester,
Satsuma, Pate-Sur-Pate or Parian statuary, the artist's name is always the most important factor effecting the value. Whether it's a
miniature painting by Yabu Meizan on Japanese ceramics, or exquisite pate-sur-pate vase by Louis Solon, or a beautiful Minton
porcelain figure modelled by Albert Carrier-Belleuse, there is a huge premium to be paid by buyer. There could very well be a
similar piece with the same high quality of decoration, but if it's not signed by a famous artist, its value is dramatically lower.
Not so with Royal Vienna. Some plates are signed. Some are not. Signatures hardly matter. One could argue that plates signed
by Wagner might be worth more. I would disagree. Yes, pieces painted by the Wagners (there was a whole family of artists doing
work for KPM and other German porcelain makers) tend to be very high quality, especially portraits. But the truth is a similar
painting by another artist, as long as it presents the same quality and detail as Wagner's, is worth no less.
Another non-factor. There were dozens of porcelain makers thruout Central Europe making "Royal Vienna" style plates. Most of
them used a beehive mark, while others (such as Dresden, KPM or Hutschenreuther) used their own marks. Always look for quality
first, and a mark second.
Most of the plates range between 9" and 10 1/2" in diameter. Smaller plates are worth less.
Most of these plates have spent their life standing in china cabinets or hanging on a wall. As a result, they are usually found in
their perfect original condition.
Since damage is rare, when it does appear, it considerably affects the value. Any cracks, chips, repairs, stacking wear or large
scratches dramatically reduce the price, while a major damage makes a plate simply worthless.