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The golden rule for someone who wants to collect porcelain is to be informed, then buy. Useful information can normally be obtained from specialist trade literature, see bibliography. Should the appropriate books not be available, then a decent library is likely to have them. Unfortunately there is no trade magazine for porcelain which leaves the interested person to look for publications such as "Antiques journal", "World art" etc. which are also read by the dealer.
It is always recommended to seek out a reliable dealer. By talking to several dealers one develops a sense as to which one gives reasonable answers. One could for instance ask a dealer what one could expect with a budget set at say EUR 5000 or 750 if one wishes to collect dancers. Anyone who wishes to buy at auctions, needs experience. Initially it is best just to get a feeling by visiting an auction and making yourself familiar with the procedure. Dealers often bid at auctions because, as agents, they see the chance to buy more favourably there. If you bid along with the dealers, it can happen that they have stopped bidding before you have even realised it – this happens very quickly – and you may find yourself stuck with a bid that – in retrospect – may seem far too high.
The rule for an auction is to inspect the item beforehand and set oneself a price limit. However, anyone who is familiar with auctions can often buy cheaper than from an antique dealer.
The prospective collector should find out when an item originated, how often it was reproduced or taken into production again at a later date. Forms and in particular decorations can change with time (sometimes even from item to item). Changes in form can be the result of technical development. It can be of great importance to know whether an article was taken into the "Classic Collection" in recent decades. Whilst such re-issues reflect the popularity of an object they have, however, much less value than an item from the original production. Some models have appeared in various sizes. It is not always easy in this case to find out special details.
The collector of Rosenthal porcelain – still – enjoys the knowledge that up to now no forgeries have come to light. But do look for damage. A respectable dealer will stand by his goods even after the sale. Whiteware poses a special problem. For instance there exists whiteware such as the Rosenthal figurines from Klimsch, Schliepstein, Steeger and Wenck which was never painted and that is held in the highest regard because it is whiteware. All other objects e.g. all Art-deco-porcelain are held to be approximately 50% less valuable as whiteware than the decorated article.
Anyone with a larger collection should always archive data on his objects, take colour photographs and take out a house contents insurance of, initially, up to EUR 150,000 and anything above that a special art insurance.
Translated from "Rosenthal Service, Figuren, Zier- und Kunstobjekte", Dieter Struss
with kind permission of Battenberg Verlag, Augsburg Germany