The King’s Porcelain Manufactory, Berlin was established in 1763 as, amongst other things, a way of King Frederick the Great financing his many wars. Previous efforts at creating ‘White Gold’ in Prussia had been plagued by war, competition in the market and ‘technical difficulties.’
Purchased for the hefty sum of 225,000 thaler, the company came under the direct ownership of the King. An enlightened despot, Frederick’s company was a progressive one. Child labour was abolished, regular working hours instated and a decent wage was paid. A form of social security was given to the workforce in pensions, healthcare and financial assistance to those orphaned or widowed by the dangers of industrial life.
By establishing a Royal manufactory, it was hoped that Prussian demand for porcelain could be satisfied locally. Instead of Prussia’s wealth swelling the economies of hostile states, it would remain at home, where through taxation it might finance future conquests.
A patron of the arts, Frederick once referred to himself half-jokingly as his “best customer.” Indeed from 1765 to 1786, he adorned his palaces with lavish porcelain to the value of 200,00 thaler. He had a particular weakness for ‘Neuzierat’, an attractive greying blue glaze that took four years to perfect.
This particular piece bears the blue ‘royal sceptre’ used during the early years to mark white china. The style is in keeping with ‘Neuosier’ popular around 1770. Inspired by French wickerwork, pieces of this era tend to resemble a woven basket. They are elaborately decorated, with flowers, golden foliage and often feature pastoral scenes. The Prussian eagle perched on top of the lid gives the piece an imperial aspect.