Royal Bayreuth Collectors Club Celebrates 26 Years of Diversity!
by Kat Thacker
About our obsessively collectible porcelain...
Royal Bayreuth (RB) is a fine porcelain coveted by collectors since the early 1800's. Vintage pieces, the main focus of the club, were produced from the early 1900's. Many of these pieces were sold as souvenirs and were marked with popular tourist locations. The factory in Tettau Germany is still in operation today making fine dinnerware.
These highly collectible pieces are made out of hard paste porcelain, hand-painted, and found in hundreds of sizes, shapes, & patterns. The "figural" pieces are particularly colorful & whimsical – and bring smiles to collectors worldwide. Perhaps you've already come across a giant red lobster water pitcher while antiquing and didn't know that there were hundreds of other intriguing pieces to be found from this inventive company!
In the "figural" variety you can find flowers, leaves, fruit, animals, people, shoes, shells, and oyster/pearl. Some of these are found painted in realistic colors, while others are white pearl or metallic glazed. There are "classic" forms, with decorations of nursery rhymes, Sunbonnet Babies, and Corinthian scenes. There are the "Deco" penguins & storks. The "scenics" include more traditionally Victorian images, as well as polar bears and dancing frogs w/bees. Some are created in a "tapestry" finish that is textured like a woven fiber. A popular "tapestry" that some collect exclusively, are the beautiful "Rose Tapestry" pieces, which are found in single-colors (yellow, pink, & silver) as well as multicolored. Many of these are also decorated in gold trim.
A little background on the RBCC...
The Royal Bayreuth Collectors Club (RBCC) was actually founded in 1994 with a group of like-minded collectors eager to share their interest in RB. The first convention was held in 1995 in Schaumburg IL, with 50 members in attendance. The main goal of the club from the beginning has been to educate themselves & the general public about this fine porcelain.
Our annual convention is on hiatus for 2020. At convention, we enjoyed educational seminars, a world-class club auction, club banquet. Show & tell sessions, sharing stories with like-minded collectors, and a fun-filled hospitality room. You will see, handle, and learn about more rare and unusual RB there than anyplace else! The sharing of information helps the entire membership as different variations of items are constantly showing up!
A diverse "sampling" of our club...
There is such a wide variety of RB that many collectors try to specialize in one area. Often times a couple might each have a different favorite area of collecting. We'd like to share the stories of several of our club members to give you a taste of the many different styles of collecting RB.
First, let's introduce Mary & Bob McCaslin, founding members. They have been collecting RB for over 40 years, and have been all over the world on their quest. Mary has written the two most influential books on the subject of RB, both considered "The Guides" for RB collectors. Loaded with photos & details of different marks, you can find info on pretty much every type of RB out there. The McCaslins collect many rare figurals, including "sets" of all variations/sizes of a particular subject. She told me she still considers the rarest ones the Santas, rabbits, squirrels, opossums and kangaroos. The other hard to find items are the miniature furniture pieces. These are decorated like the scenic RB and found in tiny chairs, sofas and tables.
Another couple of founding members (including a past club President) are the Heerholds. They have been collecting RB for over 25 years, and started their collection with figurals. The whimsical Jester line is still one of their favorites, along with the tapestry Japanese chrysanthemums. They discovered the "hand-painted ivory" variety and were immediately attracted to its many different patterns & colors. They now own more than 50 pieces of this type, including a mini compote that is quite rare.
A pair of longtime members from outside Chicago also love the Jester pieces. Terry has done a presentation on these at one of our conventions - and talked about how he loved the unique vintage sayings hand-written on each piece. His wife Mary collects figural shoes. These come in such a wide variety, there are always unique treasures to be found out there. Her beautiful silver-covered man's shoe is a prime example.
A member from Wisconsin also specializes in shoes with an amazing collection of over 100 RB shoes, 20 actually paired left & right! She started collecting miniature shoes in the 1960's, but didn't find her first RB shoe until 12 years ago. She has done intense research on the subject & shares her detailed findings with the many other shoe collectors in our club. Along the way, she has discovered moccasins, patched work boots, athletic shoes, children's shoes, slippers and alligator shoes. She tells me her absolute favorites are the "spat" shoes which sum up the Victorian period, while her rarest is a charming women's black gloss t-strap that everyone covets.
Judy, another founding member, collects the much earlier "Tettau" porcelain. These pieces were made between 1794-1902. The "T" marks found on this type are the earliest examples of RB. One of the prettiest is known as the "strawflower" or "blue onion" which actually pictures a blue and white pattern of pomegranates. She has shared her expert knowledge with members at club presentations and newsletter articles.
We have also been lucky to have met a member from Florida who specializes in Sunbonnet Babies. At one point, she had more than 400 unique pieces in her collection. Her rarest was a chocolate pot in the "Friday Sweeping" pattern, which has since been sold but she is allowed to "visit" whenever she wants!
We have a couple from RI who collect only figural creamers, and now have over 350 versions of RB, including the rare gray horse head. Another couple from the east coast specialize in children's items (she is a retired schoolteacher). There are members who collect only toothpicks, salt and pepper sets, or demi cups and saucers. Many folks specialize in the "masculine" sets of devil and cards or the antlered elks. There are even several multi-generational club members who are passing on their RB passion to their children and grandchildren. There is truly something for everyone in RB!
Consider our Convention...
The absolute best way to see, and experience Royal Bayreuth pieces is to attend the member's only convention. There you will have a chance to see and purchase pieces from other collectors, share stories about rare finds, and learn how to correctly identify these fine pieces. The next RBCC is TBD - keep an eye on our website for updates!
At just $30 for an annual membership this is a very economical way support and learn more about this wonderful porcelain. Print and mail an membership application today! We would love to personally welcome you to the world of Royal Bayreuth!