Is it old or is it new – Meissen Blue Onion

There are many marks for the Meissen Blue Onion pattern.  This is the best known, most widely distributed and most copied porcelain created in Meissen.  At the turn of the 18th century white and blue porcelain from the Orient was very much in demand. According to Robert E. Rontgen in his book The Book of Meissen Second Edition, the model for the Onion Pattern was probably a flat bowl from the Chinese K’ang Hsi Period (1662-1722). The Meissen painters closely followed the original model, but they did not fully understand the Chinese pattern. Therefore, they adapted it to a more familiar pattern. This pattern was also called the “bulb pattern” with the center flower described as an aster, peony or chrysanthemum.   The original fruits around the border were alternating peaches and pomegranates, not onions.  The large blossom with the bamboo cane is often called an aster. It may have originally been the tree or mountain peony, common in China but which the Meissen painters would not have been familiar.  The “onion pattern” as it became known was very popular and a large amount of it was manufactured.  Manufacturers in France, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Japan and Germany copied the pattern.The Royal Prussian Manufactory in Berlin was one of Meissen’s important competitors. In the 1880’s production of the blue onion pattern wares included table clothes and napkins, enamelled cooking pots and metal boxes, skirts, shawls, and blouses.  Because of  increased demand a number of European factories copied the pattern and reproduced it not only on porcelain but also on stoneware. 

As I initially wrote, there are many Meissen marks relating to the different factories that produced this pattern.  How do you know if it is German Meissen?  Much early Meissen was not marked although the name “Meissen” was impressed on early pieces which were not of the highest quality because the best method of firing and formula for the porcelain had not been perfected. These pieces had a slightly greyish tint.   Because the onion pattern was not protected by a trademark, every one could use the pattern.  In1888 after the Meissen Stove and Fireclay Factory registered a trademark that contained the name “Meissen” in  1882, the Meissen Manufactory decided to protect its name. To make their product easily identifiable a mark of crossed swords with pommels was placed on the base of the bamboo cane on the front of the piece as well as the crossed swords on the back. Although this helps to date the piece, the variety of Meissen marks and copies of Meissen marks can be very confusing without a good reference book. 


About askbeverly

Who am I? I am an individual who values the contents of people's homes for a variety of reasons. I'm called a "personal property appraiser" and certified by the International Society of Appraisers which requires educational courses, examinations, keeping up with current tax laws and every two years taking a course called the Uniform Standards of Personal Property Appraisals. Every five years, I am required to keep up my ISA certification by proving I have a minimum of 100 personal property development credits - that's course hours and actual research time spend on appraisal work. As a long time collector I have turned a hobby into a profession and for the last 22 years worked as an independent appraiser. My specialties include china, pottery, sterling silver, crystal and glassware, costume jewelry, Carnival Glass, Belleek Irish porcelain, collectibles and furniture. Why do you need an appraisal? The purpose of an appraisal may be for obtaining insurance, probate of an estate, equitable division of an estate or divorce, or a damage claim. I also give lectures on several different topics to antique clubs, provide consultations in person, by phone and through email. No my service is not free! But I will also advise you if I believe it is in your best interest to do research on your own if you just want an idea of what something is worth rather than pay for an appraisal.

27 responses to “Is it old or is it new – Meissen Blue Onion

  1. Pingback: Blue Onion and Cesky Porcelan | Home Design Themes

  2. Fonda Reed

    I have a set of china that I inherited from my Grandmother, its the Blue and white China but haven’t found the exact pattern anywhere yet, it doesn’t have any markings that I can see, it is a very fine porcelain would love to send you a picture of the pattern to point me in the right direction. I Know she told me 35-40 yrs ago that it was very very old.

  3. Roy

    I have what I think is a’blue onion’bud vase. It has the cross sword motif and the number 5164 and 71 also a blue printed 39. What do I have?

    • Roy,
      A number of companies used crossed swords on their pieces. If you will send me a photo of the vase and the mark as well as the height, I will be glad to look at it. You might also consult the Kovel Mark’s Book and The Book of Meissen by Robert E. Rontgen. You will often find painters numbers, lot numbers, and mold numbers on pieces. It is impossible to tell without seeing the mark and the piece what it is or identify who made it. Send the photos to
      Beverly Morris, ISA CAPP
      Certified Appraiser of Personal Property

  4. Lisa Carbutt

    Hello, Beverly,
    I stumbled upon this blog while investigating a Meissen piece I have in my possession. My grandfather was from Saxony and I have what appears to be a Meissen Blue Onion reticulated plate, which was given to my family by my aunt (grandfather’s daughter) and I’ve only found a couple pictures of this particular pattern online (found many reticulated plate pictures, but only two in this particular design). I’m looking to find out its approximate value and the most appropriate way to sell it. On the back there’s a blue stamp of a star with the word Meissen above it outlined in a blue oval. There is a painted number ’15.’ in blue towards the bottom edge. Also, there is the word MEISSEN impressioned into it, as well as an impressioned number 3 and underneath that, an impressioned number 10. I could send photos to you if you like? What are your fees for appraisal? Thanks so much.
    Lisa Carbutt

  5. Tiffany Petersen

    Aloha Beverly, I have a question about a Meissen Stein that I recently bought at an antique shop. It had a tag on it that said Meissen Onion Pattern Stein dated back to 1890. The bottom says Germany and has the number 77 written on the inner lip on the bottom but it does not have the crossed swords. Inside it has a lithograph of two women reading what looks like a scroll in the bottom inside of the stein. The blue details on the outside and on the lid appear to be nicely done, the lines are not acute but feather a little.

    I can send pictures if you would like.

    Thank you so much for any help!


  6. june ewens

    hello, I have a meissen blue/white soup bowl/plate. On the back it has meissen in a round symbol with a crown above the meissen name, and made in england. Round the edge of the bowl onions, fruit and leaves.. In the bowl curved shaped tree and what looks like a flower and other leaves. On the back there is a number, looks like a 6 and what looks like an f. hope this helps. Thank You.

  7. Jill

    I have a set of the blue onion dishes I inherited from my mother. I can send pictures at another time (they are currently boxed in storage), but I do remember they were stamped with Bavaria on the back. Are those copies? Thank you.


  8. Jill

    I recently inherited a set of blue onion dishes earlier this year. I can send pictures at a later time (they are currently boxed in storage), but they were only marked on the back with Bavaria. Would they be copies?

  9. Jill

    I recently inherited blue onion dishes earlier this year. The only marks on the back were “Bavaria”. I did not see anything (or can’t remember) any other markings. Would they be copies? I can send pictures, but they are currently boxed in storage. Thank you.

  10. Jasna Kun

    I have over 100 pieces of blue onion with the word Meissen and the star. Not sure if it was my mother in low gift as New or her mother’s
    My mother in low got married in 1943
    Next to the name Meissen is the old wax
    Stamp of some kind , red

    Wondering how we can have it apprised
    No crossed swords

  11. Sharon

    Estate sale: we have over 50 pieces of Meissen that my parents collected from all over the world. The collection was certified in 2002. Contact me if you know if anyone interested in any of the pieces or collection. We are out of Atlanta.

  12. Jan Hough

    I have a very old Blue Onion design plate. It is not marked Meissen and does not have the crossed swords. It is Staffordshire and has a round mark on the back with a name which I cannot read. Below this is a mark which reads, Staffordshire England, RoNo 576812 (?/ not sure of the number since portions have faded from age.) It is in good shape except for crazing and fading. Could you help me identify and place age and value? thank you.

  13. Arline Haenisch

    i have several pieces of blue onion with mark that looks like crossed arrows. feathered ends opposite points with blue onion written in script underneath. I only found one piece on ebay that said this was a japanese mark. Supposedly these pieces are over 60 years old.

  14. Hello,

    we inherited a set of blue and white porcellain form my grandmother. It is marked as MEISSEN and has the blue onion pattern. Can you tell me what it could worth?

    Thank you!

    • Thank you for contacting me. I am a Certified Appraiser of Personal Property located in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area of Texas. I cannot give you a value without seeing the property, what you have, it’s condition. If the mark is real, etc. If you would like to contact me for an appointment please visit my website for further information. If you are located in another state, I will be happy to refer you to someone in your area.

  15. Hi, it’s a little cup with crossed swords underneath, that have scored lines through. Also when held to the light, there is little pin type marks under the pattern, blue onion, any idea’s? with thanks Lorraine

  16. Kimberly M Newland

    I have a teapot with a greyish tint that is obviously not of great quality. I’m not sure how to tell if it is the real thing or a knock off. There is actually a design on the lid that looks like an onion.

  17. Patricia Carroll

    Just a simple question. Is Blue Onion with no marks worth anything? I have one serving bowl.

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