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. 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
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 in Wagner
porcelain decorating studio 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 decorating studios in Germany making "Royal Vienna"
style plates. The vast majority of them marked the plates with a beehive.
Before they were decorated though, the blank porcelain plates came with a manufacturer's mark.
Some marks, like Hutschenreuther's, were impressed and left alone. Some, like Rosenthal's for example,
were covered up with a golden flower or erased. 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