Evolution of an Antique Dealer - Elevating the Underrated
inAugust 6, 2012 - 12:48pm
About 40 years ago I first encountered jasperware plaques at antique shows. Many of them were very inexpensive. None (!!) of the dealers could tell me anything about the origins or history of them. Many called them Wedgwood plaques. Amazingly calling them Wedgwood even when there was a clear 'Germany' mark on the back! Many said they were Schafer & Vater. Because of the lack of knowledge many dealers could not tell cheaper Japanese versions over the finer German, French, or English ones.
Back in those days, before access to the kind of computerized databases so prevalent now, finding information in books, pamphlets, or others brains was no easy task.
Piecing it all together took a lot of research and a lot of tenacity. However, my experience shows that the most vital, overriding factor to grasping this particular subject is taste. That's right. More important then books. Why? Because it is the visual discernment of quality that counts the most. If your eye cannot tell quality just by looking at the surface then collecting these plaques might not be for you. If you are not intrigued by the vast assortment of colors and subject matter, then again, collecting these plaques might not be for you.
Based on experience, the rarest of the plaques are the jewelled plaques. They are found in either green or blue backgrounds with the subject in white or pink and the rim and other features are 'jewelled' with dabs of enamel cabochon dots. The largest one of those we ever found was only about 7" x 5". In 40 years, we have only seen about 6! And 4 of those six had variations of just one subject. The other two were very different.
The next best and rarest are the very large (15" or more) Volkstedt ones. To find one in mint condition would be amazing. We have only had a couple in that size and both had some damages, albeit minor.
Oh how I would love to travel to Germany to find out if the archives of the seemingly unlimited designs made by Volkstedt are extant and if so, to document them. We have had some that we have never seen duplicated and others which seem to show up with some regularity.
Then there is the amazing number of variations within a single design. We have seen the same design done in white on blue, white and black with sepia tones, and white on green. With the illustrated plaque we see the batwinged masked head on the bottom in white contrasting with the blue background but we have seen it in just blue with no contrast. How great would it be to acquire all the possible variations of a single design!
We have seen the values of the better German plaques rise about tenfold in the last 10 years and finding unique ones in mint condition almost impossible. Surprisingly, we have seen reputable appraisal sites continually undervaluing them. We can only surmise that this specialized area of non-Wedgwood jasperware plaques is such an unknown entity to them that they are truly unaware of the current market demands.
Written by Barbara Jokel
That Was Then Antiques on Ruby Lane