Porcelain sculpture from Russia and Soviet Union is an extremely popular and collectible item. It is one thing when a porcelain sculpture is bought as a gift or to delight the eye as part of interior, and quite another if the sculpture becomes the part of a great collection that brings dividends in the future.
In the first case, you can be guided by your own taste, in the second one, you will have to determine the authenticity, time of manufacture, lack of restoration and other important details that affect the value of the porcelain sculpture. When purchasing modern porcelain, it is better to skip Chinese products that are far from the masterpieces of the XIV-XVII centuries and focus on the leading Russian factories that do not change the age-old traditions of quality and are offered at affordable prices.
Tips for beginner collectors of porcelain sculptures
More affordable and accessible than others – small porcelain plastic of the Soviet period. A “grandmother’s inheritance” gathering dust in a sideboard or a figurine bought at a flea market may turn out to be a valuable rarity, worth thousands of dollars at international auctions. Porcelain “born in the USSR” is understandable at the genetic level, so there are fewer chances of acquiring a fake. Almost every house has figurines from leading factories – Dulevsky, Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, Gzhel and others, the value of which is increasing every day. In addition, they can be bought much cheaper than their German or French counterparts.
Each porcelain sculpture collection begins by examining the manufacturer’s labeling by period. Sometimes the “correct” marks do not correspond to the design time of manufacture, which helps to identify a fake. Each historical event was reflected in the labeling – this is especially noticeable in enterprises founded before the 1917 revolution. For example, the former Leningrad, and today the Imperial Porcelain Factory has about 70 types of hallmarks, and Dulevsky has at least 30.
You should also pay attention to the following nuances: the color of the stamp – on Soviet figurines it varies depending on the grade; method of applying paint: overglaze or underglaze; author’s inscriptions and a special code indicating the production time and batch.
Everything should match the catalog data. At the slightest deviation, it is better to refuse to purchase.
Other signs of a remake
Novice collectors should spend some time walking through antique shops comparing fake and original porcelain figurines. They are distinguished by the sheen of the glaze coating, the colors of the painting, the shade of the “test” and, often, the size. If the copy was created using the mold made from the original, it will shrink by 16% after firing. That is, the remake will even visually be smaller than the original sculpture.
What else fake porcelain sculpture reveal:
- Too bright, “acidic” colors. In Soviet times, the colors were natural, slightly muted, the combinations were harmonious and calm. In addition, over time, enamel and pigments fade a little.
- Shade and structure of porcelain dough. Due to synthetic additives, modern ceramics look glassy, lifeless, and cause unpleasant tactile sensations. Porcelain of the last century is pleasant, warm to the touch, has a delicate milky shade.
- The shape and proportions of the porcelain figures. Replicas have unnatural postures, gesture or body position may be changed. Some details are “lost”, especially on the hands, small items of clothing and floral decor. If a figurine of the same theme looks different, you should pay attention to the brand. Different factories could produce the same product, but with minor changes. In this case, the brand will significantly influence the price.
- Sloppy painting. Flaws in the drawing of faces are especially noticeable. Distortion of proportions, lack of cuteness, inexpressive facial expressions should be alarming – Soviet Union porcelain was created by professional artists who did not allow such miscalculations.
- Negligence in hand painting. Each famous factory had its own style, which they tried not to change. It is best to study the hand-painting of enterprises through catalogs or by directly examining the original products in antique shops, exhibitions, museums and private collections.
What kind of porcelain sculpture to collect?
Rare copies are highly valued compared to the porcelain figures that used to be in every house. However, other factors also matter. The thematic orientation affects the price of porcelain figurines significantly. Of greatest interest are allegories – mythological or literary scenes, circus, ballet, military, and propaganda stories, and so on. Another place is taken by children’s topics. Here, one should give preference to compositions reminiscent of the pioneer past, causing nostalgia. Author’s works, if we are not talking about modern porcelain figurines, but about vintage or antique ones, occupy only the third position in the rating of the most demanded ones. This is due to the difficulty in the determination of authenticity. On the other hand, the works of eminent porcelainists are always exclusive, “warming up” the interest of connoisseurs. It is important that the products bear the original author’s signature.
Limited edition porcelain sculptures, that do not belong to the categories already listed, are inferior to them in price, but are also recommended for collecting. The age of such sculptures must be at least 50 years old. The list is completed by animalists. For investment purposes, it is better to collect animals – heroes of fables and fairy tales, as they are more expensive.
Porcelain sculpture restoration.
When buying porcelain figurines through Internet sites, the risk of acquiring not only a fake but also porcelain that has undergone professional restoration, increases. Its commercial value is much lower since it is difficult to find a connoisseur who will accept restoration work. It makes sense to buy restored things only if they are very rare and of artistic or historical value. Such items will be acquired in any case, the main thing is that the flaws are not noticeable and do not affect the appearance of the figurine.
It is possible to determine whether the restoration was carried out:
– by the date of manufacture – porcelain figurines of the 18th century are unlikely to retain their integrity.
– carefully checking the figurine with dry hands to identify cracks in the glaze.
– using a magnet that will reveal the metal pins holding the parts.
– bringing a lighter to the statuette for a few seconds – if there is a restoration, a characteristic crackling sound will be heard
Hope you enjoyed reading the article and planning to go through pages of our shop. At Bestwonderstore we collected only original items from the most reputable manufactures with a long successful and remarkable history. You can start your journey by checking our traveling porcelain coffee mugs selection. Each mug is hand-painted by famous Russian artists. It doesn’t cost much but will be definitely a nice and useful gift directly from Russia.