Between 1892 and 1910, Reinhold Schlegelmilch - founder and patriarch of the distinctively designed, elegantly decorated and highly collectible RS Prussia porcelain wares - had implemented a stringent sampling, ordering, manufacturing, and shipping process. He shipped factory samples to wholesalers and sales representatives in January and February. Orders were placed from the samples provided. Manufacturing ensued upon receipt of orders which were placed from the samples, to be delivered by late fall in time for the holiday shopping season. If no orders were placed on the merchandise samples, no product was made. This practice resulted in the discovery of a few unique salesman sample pieces.
It is quite possible that our scarce RS Suhl, Prussia antique porcelain vase might be one of these very salesman samples! Standing 5” tall, this wonderful antique porcelain vase is embellished with a richly detailed central motif depicting a pastoral forest scene which features two women wearing traditional Bavarian folk attire. Resting from a walk in the forest, one woman sits on a fallen tree trunk wearing a dirndl with a full skirt, peasant blouse, close fitting vest and an apron. Holding a tree pod in her hand, she wears clog-like shoes and a brightly died scarf on her head. Her companion stands behind her, a gray gnarled tree in the background. Wearing a loose, white blouse which reveals her bare shoulders and a full skirt with an apron, she holds a walking stick against her as she peers into the forest. A white cap which covers her auburn tresses is tied under her chin.
The forest scene is decorated in deep, earthy brown and green hues. Light breaks through at the edge of the forest, wrapping around the back of the vase in muted tones of pinks, blues and browns, casting the ethereal glow of a primordial forest. Shadowy imprints of leaves adorn the surface of the vase. A thin band of gold paint embellishes the antique porcelain vase's rim.
The antique porcelain vase is marked RS Suhl with the star and wreath in green. This mark identifies this antique porcelain vase as being an RS (Reinhold Schlegelmilch) Suhl, Germany (Prussia prior to World War I) porcelain factory mark which was not used before the early 1900’s, and was definitively not used after 1917. The earlier RS Suhl red and green wreath mark had transitioned to the all green wreath mark by 1910, and it is widely accepted that the mark indicated where the porcelain goods were to be marketed rather than where they were made. Evidence suggests that the green mark was used in goods shipped to other European countries and South America. Due to the ravages of World War I the Suhl factory closed and production was moved to their factory in Tillowitz, Silesia. The RS Suhl mark is identical to the RS Prussia mark, save for the word “Suhl” instead of “Prussia”. Reinhold Schlegelmilch porcelain wares with the RS Suhl mark are scarce in the American market. Little Schelgelmilch china was exported to the United States due to the country’s embargo on German goods during World War I.
The scene from our RS Suhl Prussia antique porcelain salesman’s sample vase is cited in Mary Frank Gaston’s Collector’s Encyclopedia of RS Prussia, Fourth Series on page 141, plate 435, while an example of this vase mould is exhibited on the same page, plate 437. This rare piece is in excellent antique condition. There are no chips, cracks or repairs. There are two spots of rust at the bottom of the vase which I did not try to clean. There are a couple of tiny scratches in the decalcomania - or decal for short (please see the pictures for further detail). Decalomania is the process of transferring pictures or printed designs from specially prepared paper to various materials, such as porcelain. The decals are prints on which the design is created with oil based glaze colors on a gelatin covered paper which is then covered with a protective varnish. After the paper is soaked in water the decoration can be slid over to the glazed porcelain surface and fired to permanently sticking onto the glaze. Unlike earlier techniques that could be applied under the glaze as well as on top of it, decalcomanias were applied exclusively over the glaze. With this method resulted in the decorations being as detailed and colorful as the printers could make them. This type of decoration still occurs on porcelain intended for decorative purposes.