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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Ware, George W.
Porcelain, old and new,   pp. 29-35 PDF (3.9 MB)


Page 29


Meissen. Flower bowl after Sulkowsky model, 1735-1737. (Courtesy, G. Ryland
Scott, Memphis, Tenn.)
Porcelain, Old and New
By GEORGE W. WARE
Chief, Vocational Education Section, Education and Cultural Relations Division
Office of Public Affairs, HICOG
PORCELAIN, THE MAGIC WORD that puts a gleam of
acquisition in the eyes of almost every American in
Gcmany, was accidentally discovered at Meissen in 1709
by Johann Friedrich Boettcher, a young alchemist who
was seeking a method to produce gold for his avaricious
master, King August the Strong of Saxony.
Prior to Boettcher's accidental discovery, the secret of
making porcelain, known to the Chinese almost 1,000
years earlier and perfected by them in the 15th and 16th
centuries, had eluded the western artisans despite re-
pea ted attempts to solve this mystery.
Since his discovery, Germany has become the home of
the European true or hard-paste porcelain industry and
today German porcelain is universally admired and col-
lected by persons of all races and circumstances. It ap-
pears in countless forms-from  great chandeliers to
miniature buttons, from magnificent table services to
humble ashtrays, from life-size statues to small, artistic
figur ines. The development of porcelain has captured the
fancy of nobles and commoners throughout the centuries.
Thnere, harl beehn a lsne search
throughout the western world for food
and liquid containers which were low
heat conductors, easy to cle-an,nonpo-
rous and free from the taint imparted
to food by earthenware and metal ves-
sels. Porcelain satisfied all these re-
quii ements.Therei6littlewonder,there-
fore, that porcelain was hailed with
great enthusiasm in western Europe. It
was referred to as "white gold" and
was considered a semi-precious ma-
In addition t
George W. Wa
companying ai
collector and at
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terial upon which the master modelers and decorators could
exploit their talents for the benefit of the noble and rich.
YING AUGUST THE STRONG was an ardent lover of
Kporcelain and like many other rulers of that day he
had almost bankrupted his kingdom through the acquisi-
tion of Oriental porcelain (china). Boettcher's discovery
at Meissen resulted in the establishment of the royal
Meissen factory, which he managed until his death in 1719.
Now, with his own factory, the king seized the op-
portunity to enhance his prestige and replenish his treas-
ury. He determined to keep his prize a secret and every
precaution was taken to prevent the secret from falling
into the hands of others interested in opening competitive
factories. The Meissen employees were sworn to "secrecy
to the death," and deaf and dumb workers are reputed to
have been employed and held in virtual confinement to
prevent the secret from escaping the walls of the factory.
Threats, bribery, alcohol, seduction and other devices
were used to obtain the magic formula. Although con-
HICOG duties,
thor of the ac-
is a porcelain
ty. In his spare
red a 250-page
"German and
the first com-
subject written
which will be
German and
nmer.
secret escaped and Samuel Stoelzel,
a former Meissen workman, founded
a factory at Vienna in 1718. A number
of other factories were established in
Germany and neighboring countries
during the middle of the century with
the aid of porcelain artisans who sold
the secrets.
Porcelain production soon became
the vogue, and every prince aspired
to own a factory. As porcelain was
JUNE  1 9 5 1 2 9
INFORMATION BULLETIN
JUNE 1951
29


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