Porcelain vase / vessel Gerold & Co., embossed model number 4372
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The hand-painted porcelain vase that can be seen in the photo is decorated with gold decoration, without any damage and only minimal wear, comes from Gerold & Co. from Tettau in Bavaria.
Of course, as with all these things, whether you like it is a matter of taste. However, someone found it beautiful enough to acquire and probably to keep for quite a long time. How it finally came to the flea market, where it was then bought for EUR 2.50, will probably be hidden forever in the darkness of the ages. But whether you like it or not, it is always interesting. Because purely in terms of appearance, it could date from the Art Déco period, i.e. the 1920s to 1930s, or just as easily from the 1960s (which was also the first assumption).
In order to find out the actual age of a porcelain vase, the model number and / or the word / figurative mark (or even just the figurative mark, such as the crossed swords in Meissen products) of the manufacturer can often be used. Unfortunately, in this case there is no model list in which the respective model is assigned to a year of manufacture. This makes things a lot more complicated!
A first clue for determining the age can therefore be the manufacturer's word / figurative mark.
The manufacturing company was founded in Tettau (Bavaria) in 1904 and existed under different company names and using different word and image marks, which can be assigned temporally, until 2002, when it finally disappeared from the market after almost a hundred years of company history.
The dark green (it is also available in light green) word and figurative mark Gerold & Co. Tettau above the word BAVARIA on the underside of the vase base was used by the company in this form from 1937 to 1960, which already allows an initial chronological classification. On the other hand, this excludes a chronological assignment to Art Déco, whereas the assignment derived from the design to the sixties could be supported. This would also be supported by the fact that creatively similar - albeit very few - pieces are offered on various sales platforms on the Internet, also with the time allocation "sixties".
Other porcelain items labeled with Gerold & Co. are also offered as dating from the 1950s and even the 1920s or labeled "Art Nouveau" (in german "Jugendstil") - due to their alleged age, sometimes at exorbitant prices, and that also from professional antique dealers. Due to the company name in the word / figurative mark, it can at most be that the design originates from the specified period, but not the object itself.
The assumption that the vase dates from the early 1960s could also be supported by the remark on some websites dealing with the topic that the mark "Gerold & Co." would have been used exclusively for export goods that would have been intended for the then Eastern Bloc countries (unfortunately without any reference to the source that could support this claim). The reason for this would have been that the import of West German products would have been banned in these states, so that many companies with such designations or different manufacturer names would have tried to circumvent this ban. However, this argument does not seem logical or valid.
Firstly, it cannot be proven, and secondly, it seems nonsensical to try to disguise the origin of a product when the city names "Tettau" and "Bavaria" are clearly visible on that particular product. However, this claim could also be understood in such a way that a corresponding product can only be labeled with "Gerold & Co." could have been marked. Despite an intensive search, however, no product from the manufacturer could be found on which only "Gerold & Co." or the like without any further additions - the origin of a Gerold product is always more or less precisely stated in all descriptions / photos found. Two further points speak against the above-mentioned claim:
First, it is simply wrong that the importation of West German products into the then socialist states belonging to the Eastern bloc was not allowed. In fact, the east-west trade grew over time. One explanation for this claim could be that in the GDR the so-called interference clearance ("Störfreimachung"), which has been politically implemented since the end of the 1950s, actually led to a massive restriction of western imports, which in particular also affected medical products (up to and including removal of western drugs from private postal parcels). This was a reaction of the GDR to the realization that it was highly dependent on western imports and therefore open to blackmail, so that an attempt was made to prevent these imports and to manufacture the corresponding products themselves - even in violation of patent and trademark rights - and so on to make more independent of the West. To what extent porcelain products were also affected remains unclear. This attitude was later abandoned, and at the end of the GDR there was even a high trade deficit in terms of imports and exports. The clearing of interference was also a specific feature of the GDR and in no way applied to the other Eastern Bloc countries.
Second, it can be doubted that the GDR was actually such an important sales market for Gerold & Co. or other manufacturers of porcelain products that they would have even bothered to develop their own export branding for it, especially but to take the trouble to export to a country that had high trade barriers and - in spite of the shortage economy - had its own well-known, traditional and qualitatively acceptable production facilities for porcelain products.
And technical marketing reasons also speak against it. It can be assumed that the end consumers in the Eastern Bloc countries - as well as those in the West - are by no means experts in assessing the quality of porcelain products. Here, the name and the origin count and still count when it comes to purchase. For a Soviet citizen, for example, who could just as easily have used local products at a lower price, the incentive to buy would have been missing without a designation of origin. In this respect, by omitting the origin and / or the alienation of the manufacturer's name, a disadvantage that cannot be compensated would have arisen for the manufacturing company, which would make an export unprofitable under difficult conditions. Because it must not be forgotten that these are not everyday objects or industrial objects that could still generate a small profit margin through mass sales.
But this assumption speaks particularly well that the name "Gerold & Co." as part of the word / figurative mark is ultimately the company name, which, as already mentioned, has been used in this form since 1937, i.e. at a time when there was still no strict division into western or eastern bloc states, and certainly no West Germany or East Germany. In this respect, the assertion dealt with here makes even less sense.
In summary, it can be said that the designation "Gerold & Co." there is no useful indication of the possible year of manufacture beyond the findings already made.
However, further indications can be found. Many photos of Gerold products can be found on the Internet that have the word GERMANY in addition to the word / figurative mark and BAVARIA. These are likely to have been made before 1946. In addition, many photos are available that clearly show the underglaze imprint "Western Germany", "Made in West Germany" or "Made in West Germany" or "Made in W. Germany". All of these products (but not necessarily their design) are from after 1949, as there was no "West Germany" before. In addition, there are photos of Gerold products from the production years 1946 to 1949, some of which are marked with a different word / figurative mark or figurative mark and "Made in Germany US Zone".
In the case of the vase treated here, however, there is the problem that neither the imprint "GERMANY" nor one of the imprints for a production in West Germany is found. Even so, a comprehensible chronological classification is not possible.
Interestingly, however, a photo of a Gerold product was found that provides some information and ultimately leads to the solution. The piece shown on it with the model number 5557 bears the imprint "Made in Germany US-Zone". Assuming that the model number was assigned constantly in ascending order, the vase model with the number 4372 dealt with here must have been created well in advance, whether with GERMANY imprint (which was only mandatory for export to certain countries) or not. Since there is also no reference to "West Germany", the obvious conclusion is that it is actually a completely undamaged Gerold product from the production period from 1937 to the end of 1945 (the possibility that the vase was made after an older Draft was created later, due to the lack of reference to W.-Germany or similar, it appears to be quite unlikely). This also means that it has to be relatively rare, since during the war years there was a wide variety of raw material shortages in many industries and war-important productions had priority in the allocation of resources. In addition, in many companies at least part of the production was shifted to armaments or similar, so that production capacities for the goods actually manufactured there were no longer available. This is what happened to the company Gerold & Co., which had to convert part of its production facility to the manufacture of ammunition and was accordingly able to manufacture less original products.
In addition, the vase has two other special features:
On some pieces by Gerold & Co. you can find the word "handgefertigt" (hand-made) below the trademark - this is missing in the model discussed here, which has the (here red) word "Handmalerei" (hand painting). The latter lettering is extremely rare and always occurs with the second peculiarity.
The second peculiarity concerns the company stamp or the word / figurative mark with the writing "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur", which can be seen on the photo, which surrounds three overlapping circles (whether this should represent Borromean rings, a symbol for networking, remains unclear ). Both "Handmalerei" and "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" are located under the glaze, so they cannot have been applied later to, for example, purchased remnants or the like. They must have been on the vase from the start. Of course, it is possible that this is a commissioned production that may have been ordered by a dealer or another producer (perhaps due to the fact that their own production facilities were destroyed or annexed during the war). However, no information could be found on a company called "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur". On the other hand, however, photos of products labeled "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" can be found on the Internet that have the same or at least a very similar decor as the vase discussed here, including lidded vases, bowls (with and without lids), cake plates and other plates even entire service sets. Most of these pieces are only marked with "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" and also have their own (printed, not embossed) model numbers and sometimes the word "Handmalerei" (hand-painted). In the same decor there is also a lidded box, also labeled "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" and "Handmalerei", but also with the manufacturer's mark of the porcelain factory "Plankenhammer Floss Bavaria Germany" (a company from the Upper Palatinate that operated from 1908 to 1974 duration). There is also a coffee service that differs in color, but not in the design of the leaf decoration, there labeled "Hagemann Kunst Steele" and "Handgemalt" and marked with a coat of arms at the bottom, the castle wall equipped with battlements in the upper part shows and encloses three intersecting circles. There is also another vase that matches the decor and the color design of the vase treated here, but has a different shape and is also labeled with "Hagemann Kunst Steele" on a sticker.
At the same time, "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" does not appear in the relevant databases as a manufacturer of porcelain goods. This only allows the conclusion that it is not - as the name "Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur" suggests - a real, independent manufacturer, but a trade name or a trade mark that probably belonged to a company that may be in possession who had the right to the decor, but did not produce it independently, but only had it produced on order and then sold the commissioned productions under its own name, similar to what happened earlier with jewelers or watch brands. How long this company was in operation is unclear.
In this respect, the vase is also very interesting from a political and economic point of view in many respects.
Dr. U. Janatzek, M.A. 2021
Porcelain vase / vessel Gerold & Co., embossed model number 4372 Tettau Bayern Hagemann Porzellan Manufaktur Handmalerei Bavaria Germany