Friday, August 7, 2009

I would love it even if it were worthless

I like it when my taste is validated. A few years ago I bought this quite special, uniquely decorated plate for $15 at a silent auction fund raiser for Lyric Opera of Chicago. I was the only bidder.

It was donated by one of my good friends, a Jewish immigrant from World War II Germany. She said, “Oh, it was J’s, something from his family we’ve had around for years. I don’t know anything about it.” And apparently she didn't like it enough to want to keep it, either. J, her husband and also an immigrant, was a physician and researcher who had, a few years before, died of the very disease he spent his long, august career studying.

I’m pretty good at using the internet to answer the unknowns in my life, and with a little work, and because the marks on the back of the plate are decipherable, I discovered that the stork with the fish in its beak and crown overhead is the mark of Rozenbug, den Haag.* From that information, I soon landed at the site of the major Rozenburg dealer, Proportio Divina. Proportio Divina's response to my query and photos, from the knowledgeable Marc Knook, identified my object as follows:

"It was manufactured in 1907 by Rozenburg, Den Haag, a Dutch manufacturer of earthenware and porcelain. This plate is porcelain and my guess is that the bird is indeed a young crow. The decoration was done by Samuel Schellink."

In the end, under my assurances that it is in as perfect condition as it looks in the photos, he offered me $800 (plus shipping to The Netherlands).

I've become quite attached to it, and so regardless of price, or value, I declined his offer. But I do wonder what Proportio Divina would have asked for it on their luscious web site...

Someone is now listing a similar plate on eBay (the listing won’t stay up forever, and Rozenburg plates show up on eBay very rarely, so look quick!) The starting bid is $1,450. The subject is also a crow, though the artist appears not to be Samuel Schellink, either by style or monogram on the back. The eBay plate is 9 inches across and is earthenware, mine is exactly 6.5 inches in diameter and is certainly porcelain, as Mr. Knook notes. Heavenly joy, mine is mint. The eBay item has a good-sized, glaring in fact, nick on the rim.

I am very interested to see whether the eBay plate sells. I suspect not, not so much because of its tidy price, but because of its unfortunate ding.

(I might add that both plates are round and both look oval due to the angle at which the photos were taken, and what seems to be a flaw on the back of mine is a firing crack under glaze, not damage.)

*Thanks to the Chicago Craftsman blog for a succinct history of the Rozenburg, den Haag factory.

ADDENDUM, Sunday 08/09/09
Courtesy of Jerry Franks, Brooklyn New York, image of his earthenware Rozenburg plate listed on eBay


  1. Dear Ms Wald, I like your plate and wondered if you might now part with it.
    Very best regards
    John Popper

  2. Here's a link to another plate (identical to your plate) selling at Quittenbaum Auctions in Munich. Pre-sale estimate at E2,000 - E3,000. Keep yours and if you ever decide to sell, list it with a well-known and reputable auction house! Dealers will ALWAYS offer you less then what it's actually worth...