Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Why, what's the matter, That you have such a February face,

So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?"
~ William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

Even with the mild winter here, we still wear the sighs of sweaters and jackets. But, the bouquets of flowers in the grocery stores remind us that spring is coming...And you can always just put out a pretty flower plate for breakfast or for your tuna sandwich at lunch...and one of these Victorian "RS" pretties would seal the deal. I truly believe in using these pretties...life is too short to live in a china cabinet.The RS mark refers to German factories in Suhl, Germany. According to my research, there were two factories in Suhl, Erdmann’s and Reinhold’s. Contrary to folklore, these two operations were in direct competition with each other. Reinhold’s factory was founded and initially owned by Reinhold, and subsequently with his two sons, Ehrhard and Arnold. Arnold took over an existing porcelain factory in Tillowitz in 1894,running it as part of the Reinhold Schlegelmilch enterprise until he died in 1934. Erdmann’s factory, in contrast, was founded and originally owned by Leonhard Schlegelmilch. Later on, Oscar, Julius Martin, and Carl Schlegelmilch had a hand in owning and/or running the factory. Oscar Schlegelmilch eventually started his own factory in Langenwiesen, and Julius eventually (1899) took over the ownership of Erdmann’s Suhl operation. From the time of founding up to 1892, it appears that little porcelain was exported to America from Reinhold’s factory. Objects in several mold patterns used between 1889 and 1892 are known to be marked with the RS “Arrow” mark.
Beginning 1893, US wholesale firms began to import larger quantities of china tableware from Europe, and almost all was from Reinhold’s factory. Two events in 1894 appeared to have a significant on Reinhold’s production. First, the second factory in Tillowitz, (Upper Silesia) began to make far less expensive porcelain than the one in Suhl, owing to the closer proximity of raw materials and the abundance of cheap labor. (And...once again, we see that only names and locations change! Think China...) Second, the very high US import tariff on decorated porcelain was substantially lowered by the Tariff Act of 1894. Based on the number and type of entries in American wholesale catalogs, the tariff reduction opened the door to a flood of European porcelain.

Reinhold’s products from the 1900-1905 period were among the best to be made in Europe. Unfortunately, public taste began to change about 1905. The complex mold patterns stocked by American wholesale firms began to be replaced by china in simple shapes. At the same time, imports of inexpensive Japanese china increased. Reinhold’s products were largely replaced by china from both Japan and other European firms. No matter the time, businesses face the same problems...1905 or 2005...nothing changes.
The products made after 1910 are frequently referred to as R. S. Germany, owing to a change in trademark. However, the change in the country of origin is only one of several to have been made between 1895 and 1910. Products made from 1910 to the beginning of WWI are R. S. Prussia since both manufacturing plants were still in operation. When WWI began in earnest, the Suhl factory was effectively shut down since there was no skilled labor. Some talented factory workers were relocated to Tillowitz. The manufacture of porcelain in Tillowitz continued through WWII. Although the plant survived undamaged, much of the equipment used to make porcelain was removed upon Russian occupation. Today, the factory still stands, but the major product is china dinnerware.



But, for now...R.S. perhaps can translate to "Real Soon" for Spring! But as the Japanese proverb states, "One kind word can warm three winter months."

1 comment:

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