Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Pattern Spotlight: Blue Onion, Meissen
The Blue Onion pattern by Meissen (Dresden) turned 270 years old this year. Now, that is what it means to hand down a porcelain pattern.
Meissen is a curiosity: Beginning with the journey of the troubled first employee of Meissen, Johann Friedrich Böttger, who was jailed by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland in current eastern Germany when his persistent attempts to turn lead into gold for the King failed repeatedly. His only remaining option was to find an alternate use for himself as a scientist in Augustus' court and finally he found success in making porcelain to rival the then prized Chinese porcelain. On his back the Royal Saxon Porcelain Manufactory in Meissen, Germany was founded. While he managed to perfect the hard clay kiln-fired process in 1708 (the first on the continent), Meissen was still years away from developing the hand painted patterns for which their tableware is known. Though, they were centuries ahead of their peers in other respects: Meissen dinnerware is, and by virtue of its 1450 degree firing, always has been, dishwasher safe.
Now to the historical pattern notes: You may be interested to know there is not one onion in the pattern, rather pomegranates and peaches modelled on an ancient Chinese pattern called "Three Blessed Fruits" which are pomegranate, peach, and lemon. In the Meissen pattern revision. the lemon and pomegranate were merged and were so often mistaken for onions, the name eventually stuck. Have a closer look.
Meissen now makes more than 750 different items in this pattern now nearly three centuries old. This will assure those buying or registering for the pattern now that there will be no shortage of replacements if a dinner plate breaks, and no shortage of gifts for those buying you pieces as gifts in future years.