Blue Decorated Danish Porcelain Has A Long History

By Anne Gilbert  

Since it was introduced in 1775 as the Royal Porcelain Manufactory, Danish porcelain with its blue-on-white decorations has never lost its appeal. The blue fluted pattern has never stopped being made using floral variations. Glazes on the early pieces had a slight bluish-green tinge. The name was changed to the Royal Danish Porcelain Manufactury in 1779, and became known as Royal Copenhagen.

Kaolin, an important ingredient to the glaze, was imported beginning in 1778 from France. The result was a pure white glaze that identifies today's pieces. However, for a short time in 1807 the English blockade of France made it impossible for the Danish factory to acquire the Kaolin. Pieces made during this time were gray and mottled.

Pieces made in the 18th century followed the rococo forms originated in the Meissen factory. Large dinner services were made that included pieces not in use these days or during the 19th century. Since this was before refrigeration was in use, foods were kept cool in three-piece dishes. Ice was placed in the top and bottom bowls with perishable food in the middle. Another novel piece was the oblong dish with pierced drainer inserts for fish.

Just as the English made tea a ceremony with many pieces in the tea service, so did the Danes, adding coffee and chocolate. The chocolate pots were cylindrical, and the porcelain cover was topped by a tiny brass lid. When pushed aside, a small hole enabled a stirring stick to be inserted.

In 1853, the Bing & Grondahl porcelain works opened. When they introduced their under glaze blue decorations in 1886, for the first time Royal Copenhagen had competition. Bing & Grondahl introduced their annual Christmas plates beginning in 1895. Royal Copenhagen introduced their Christmas plates in 1908.

In 1987, Bing and Grondahl became part of Royal Copenhagen.

CLUES: Pieces of Royal Copenhagen identified as being 18th to early 19th century can sell for thousands of dollars. This includes figures, flower pots, and the more unusual serving pieces. More affordable and available are pieces from the 1920s. Since between 1775 and 1820 thirty different marks were registered, it would take an expert to identify the date and the artist. From the 1830s, numbers were used. By 1931, a combination of letters were used. Most pieces are marked on the bottom with the factory mark of three wavy lines. These symbolize the three waterways of Denmark.

From 1894 to 1900, a crown over the word Denmark was used. Before 1923, a crown in a circle of the words Royal Copenhagen over wavy lines and the painter's number were used. These are just a few clues to dating pieces.
For more information on marks, a very informative internet site is

Learn about Porcelain and Pottery

Tea caddy, pre-1780, made before glaze was perfected. (Photo: Royal Porcelain Manufactory Collection.)

Blue fluted fish plate, Royal Copenhagen, 20th century. (Photo: courtesy, private collector.)




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