Dear Helaine and Joe:
This chocolate set belonged to my grandmother, who loved and cherished it. It consists of the pot with lid and four cups and saucers. I am very interested in knowing what the value might be.
At least one important thing was left out of this letter — and that is how these pieces are marked.
Oh yes, we knew who made this set as soon as we saw the photograph of the pot, but some of the work of this particular factory went unmarked. Then we saw the final photo in the group and there, plain as day, was what we were hoping to see: a wreath with a star above, the initials “RS” inside and the word “Prussia” below.
To be sure, there was a time when this ware was so popular that fakers made decals available with a poor approximation of this iconic trademark that people could affix to any piece of china and offer it as being the real “RS Prussia.” Only the inexperienced were fooled, for the most part. But there is no question that the chocolate set in today’s question is the real thing.
This porcelain set (actually, it’s probably a partial set with two to four cups and saucers missing) was made in the Thuringian town of Suhl, which, after the 1815 Treaty of Vienna, became part of Prussia (later a part of a larger unified Germany). In the mid-19th century, Suhl was a town looking for an industry, and in 1861 Erdmann Schlegelmilch opened a factory to make porcelain, which was followed by Reinhold Schlegelmilch’s firm in 1869. Finally, Carl Schlegelmilch opened his factory in 1882.
None of the Schlegelmilchs listed above were apparently related to one another, but it was Reinhold’s factory that started using the RS Prussia mark around 1904 or 1905. Most sources say the mark stopped being used in the late 1930s.
It should be understood that all the RS Prussia-marked wares from the Reinhold Schlegelmilch factory were decorated with transfer prints and never hand-painted. Their porcelain was thin, translucent and beautiful, and the vast majority of the designs were floral in nature. Examples that were factory-decorated with birds, animals, buildings, scenes or portraits are considered to be rare by varying degrees.
The molds that Schlegelmilch used to make his wares are often designated with numbers and names. The one used to make S.S.’s chocolate set is generally referred to as mold 553. The floral decoration also has a pattern designation, i.e., FD (floral decoration) 91. This combination usually has a satin finish.
We understand why S.S.’s grandmother cherished this lovely circa 1910 chocolate set, but sadly, like so many other collectible items, prices have greatly declined over the past decade or so. Today, this set should be valued in the range of $400 to $500 for retail.