This can be a bleak time of year, so I thought perfect to spread a little cheer by admiring some truly stunning porcelain craftsmanship.
Duxer Porzellanmanufaktur, or Dux Porcelain, was started in 1860 by model expert Eduard Eichler in what was then Duchov, Bohemia. Surviving Nazi occupation and the turbulent history of its nation, the firm is still in business as part of Czesky Porcelan (Czech Porcelain).
Recreating historical designs from England, Denmark and France, in the 19th century the firm specialized in high quality Neoclassical statuary and busts of Art Nouveau style maidens, large porcelain figures, and ornate vases featuring three dimensional figures.
By 1938, the company had produced over 12,000 different moulds and was exporting beautiful porcelain and faience (fine tin glazed pottery) figurines by master designers such as Alois Hampel and Jaroslav Ježek all around the world.
Their spectacular centrepieces, featuring charioteers driving a pair of rearing horses, nymphs and mermaids around a conch shell, or 3D sheep and shepherdesses, fetch thousands of pounds.
You can find single postwar figurines and vases starting around £50, but even these soon increase to many hundreds depending on age and detail.
Royal Dux colourways are their giveaways as they used pastel greens, pinks and browns all outlined in gold.
I was very lucky to find this pair of impressive three and a half feet high vases at a house sale.
They have been valued at £2,000 for the pair and are probably worth more now.
Check for the ‘Pink Triangle’ mark, introduced around 1900, although you will benefit by recognising changes marking the four production periods since.
Pieces featuring an ‘E’ are usually preferred by collectors.
Modern pieces are often offered, deliberately or through ignorance, as much older than they really are, and there are fakes on the market.
For a time seen as old fashioned, Royal Dux’s quality and variety never lost desirability among discerning porcelain aficionados.
With increasing interest in all things Art Nouveau and Art Deco, their figurines are now highly sought after, and the perfect ‘find’ to brighten a dull midwinter day.