Q. I have a piece of porcelain that is in excellent condition. It is marked with an "S" with an "X" through it. I believe this refers to Scheibe-Alsbach, Thuringia, Germany. It is from my grandmother's porcelain collection. Can you shed some light on its value?
A, This figure group is rather interesting and depicts a hunting party made up of men and women pausing to have a picnic. A gentleman with a hunting horn slung over his shoulder helps a woman dressed in a tricorn hat down from her horse.
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On the ground there is a woman with a dead stag and a hunting dog at her feet and across from her another woman with a gentleman at her feet. This lady appears to have birds (presumably dead ones) on her lap. Between these two groups there is a cloth spread on the ground with a small bowl of fruit and two bottles of spirits.
All are in 18th-century-style dress, but this piece is far from having been made in the 18th century. The reader is correct in that this piece was made in Scheibe-Alsbach, in the German province of Thuringia. The company that manufactured this item is the A.W. Fr. Kister Porcelain Manufactory, which was established in 1837 or 1838.
Many of the A.W. Fr. Kister porcelains are of single figures dressed as Napoleonic-era soldiers. For the most part, these are not especially valuable, but are often sold in groupings that can be quite large. We found a grouping of nine individual figures (Napoleon and his generals) that sold for $1,100 at auction in 2007.
However, some Kister figure groups can be large and elaborate. Two of these sold at Christie's in London in 2010. One was gold and white and depicted Napoleon and Josephine playing chess on a table with "X" shaped supports. The other was smaller and also depicted people (this time in fancy 18th-century costume) playing chess. The two groups sold together for a little more than $3,000.
But most Kister porcelain groups sell at auction for much less. We are not sure why these particular Kister groups sold for so much, but we do think it is a price that would be hard to replicate in most markets.
As a general rule, 19th- and early-20th-century European porcelain figure groups are not doing all that well when put up for sale. Most modern collectors (those spending money in the marketplace right now) look negatively upon these groupings and associate them with the "dusty" bric-a-brac found on mantel or curio cabinet shelves.
It is unfortunate that we were not told the size of this object, so we cannot really appraise it with any accuracy. However, we feel it probably has an insurance-replacement value of $1,500 or less.
• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.