The tradition of passing down chinaware from parent to child is one steeped in sentimentality and ancestral pride, and the set of china in your cabinet might bear a special marking, labeling it as a set of Monbijou china. First created by the Bavarian porcelain company, Rosenthal, in 1896, these delicate floral patterns can send even the most modern tables back in time to a hundred years ago.
About Monbijou Chinaware
The translation of Monbijou is "My Jewel," and this line of Bavarian china lives up to the name. It isn't a particularly well-known brand of china, except among those that love it. Originally created between 1896-1907, and later revisited by the company in a modern series, pieces can be purchased for much less than Meissen china, or other more well-known china manufacturers' products as well. This makes it a great option for people wanting to spice up their dinner tables without draining their bank accounts.
Rosenthal's Monbijou china can be found in a wide price range. Values of individual pieces and entire sets depend on the age, condition, and desirability of each one. You should expect to pay anywhere from $40 to over $1,000 for the china depending on what it is. Average prices for a plate in near perfect condition are about $75 to $100.
White-Ware and Painting Patterns
The Monbijou line is not a particular pattern of china. Monbijou refers to the intensely detailed, scalloped and ruffled shape of the various pieces, which were created on the same mold. After Rosenthal created the white-ware, or unpainted china, the company sent them out to be hand painted by local pottery shops. Rosenthal used only the most talented artists from around the world, and each artist added their own creativity to the china, making every piece unique. Often, the artist signed and dated the bottom of the piece near the mark. These pieces were created on a Monbijou mold and then sent to various artists to be hand painted.
Some of the most popular plates depicted:
- Large flowers
- Small, all over sprays of flowers
- Sea shells
The edges are often hand-painted in gold to bring out the exquisite detail in the ruffled scallops. The Monbijou line is Art Nouveau style as its most pure, with flowing lines and graceful design.
Named After the Summer Home of Sophia Dorthea
The name of the city under the mark describes where the white-ware was created. In the case of Monbijou china, the name comes from the Rococo style summer home of Sophia Dorothea, wife of Frederick William I. Located in East Berlin, Mon Bijou was known for its charming gardens. Unfortunately, the chateau was reduced to a pile of stone during World War II and never rebuilt.
Where to Find Monbijou Bavarian China
Rosenthal's Monbijou can be found in many antique shops and auctions, and you may even find a piece at a garage sale now and then. Generally, the hundred-year-old china holds up well, and examples remain in good shape. Thanks to these pastel beauties, people often used it as display pieces rather than serving food from it.
Online is always an excellent source for finding collectibles, and Monbijou is no exception. There are a number of virtual antique shops that carry this wonderful china. Most of them are affiliated with Ruby Lane, a virtual antique mall with several shops, or other similar online auction retailer. Typing Monbijou Bavaria in the search feature will bring up a number of pieces, each more beautiful than the other.
Other places that carry Monbijou are:
- eBay - eBay is another one-stop-shop for all things collectibles, often because new items are listed all the time. Always check the feedback score of the seller and carefully read their return policy before buying anything from them. Most sellers on ebay are very good, but it's better to protect yourself from those that aren't than to not ask enough questions.
- Tias - Tias is another virtual antique mall that normally has several pieces from the Monbijou line.
How to Identify Bavarian China
Rosenthal used the stamp mark 'Monbijou china, Bavaria' to identify their Monjibou line in 1896; you can find most of their pieces with this maker's mark stamped onto the bottom of these plates. Interestingly, this product was one of Rosenthal's earliest marks bearing the R and C crown with crossed swords. Beyond using maker's marks to identify your Bavarian china, you can also clearly identify most Monbijou plates based on their unique scalloped edges. These plates are typified by their almost petal like sectioning, which is edged in a scalloped manner. Oftentimes, these edges are painted with gold leaf, though not all artists followed this pattern. Additionally, you might find what seems to be random signatures on the bottom of your plates as well. Since these pieces of chinaware were sent to manufacturing companies without any color, in-house artists could add their own personal touches to these pieces. A number of them, though not all, signed the plates they designed. There's no repository on exactly who painted which plates, so there's no guarantee that there's any information about the person you brought your specific plate to life.
How to Care for Your Bavarian China
Whether you decide to use your china or just display it, you'll still want to clean it once in a while. This will keep all of your pieces looking fresh and beautiful. Quite often, the only thing you'll need to do is dust, but sometimes your china may require a gentle washing. To wash antique china of any sort, follow these steps:
- Place a folded bath towel in the bottom of the kitchen sink to pad it.
- Fill the sink with warm, not hot, water.
- Add a few drops of gentle dishwashing soap and stir the water to create suds.
- Take off any rings or jewelry that might scratch the china.
- Wash one or two pieces at a time to guard against chipping.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge.
- Rinse carefully and air dry.
By doing these simple things, your china will be in top condition.
Take Your Dinner Back in Time
Everyone deserves to eat an elaborate spread on a pair of plates that are as finely crafted as the food itself. While there's an abundance of antique china out there for you to choose from, the soft florals and scalloped edges of Monbijou china makes it an unusual, but perfect, choice for people with a delicate sense of style.