Karlsbad Bavaria China Ironstone

Bavarian ironstoneQ: I have these china dishes that were left to my husband and myself by my father in law that just passed at 98. They belonged to his grandmother or great-grandmother. At least 125 to 150 years old. I cannot figure out who made them. There is a shield with a lion and the word Karlsbad, I can also make out Bavaria and the letters BDB. Can you help?

A: What you have is ironstone, often called white graniteware, and not porcelain or china. Ironstone was intended for everyday use due to it being more sturdy and durable than porcelain or china.

The mark or back stamp on your pieces is that of Bawo and Dotter which began operating in New York as an import company in 1860. They imported fine china and trinkets from all over Europe with a heavy focus on the Limoges region of France.

Around 1870, they opened a decorating house in Limoges and purchased only the finest porcelains from Europe to decorate and ship back to New York to sell to the public. By this time they had opened several retail stores in America. They also expanded their European interests by purchasing other porcelain factories and decorating houses. They were in Bavaria {Germany}, Austria, Limoges {France}, Czechoslovakia, and their original firm in Bohemia.

The city of Carlsbad is spelled “Karlsbad” in German. It was the center of the Bohemian porcelain industry before World War I. Bavaria indicates the factory where the pieces were made and decorated.

After all these years in the industry, I have yet to uncover why Bawo & Dotter uses BDB in their marks. I know that Bawo & Dotter had a partner for a number of years and assume that the extra “B” designates the partner but I have not been able to find out the name of the partner.

Bawo & Dotter have several marks; including Elite and Limoges. They also used the double line shield surrounding a lion and the picture of St. Martial from the seal of the City of Limoges. So when identifying a Bawo & Dotter piece you need to look at all aspects of the mark to help you determine where it was made and who decorated it.

As for value, the creamer and sugar would sell for $75, the coffee pot $125, and the platter around $60 – $75. These prices are for pieces in excellent condition with no chips or cracks.

Written by Michelle Staley

Michelle Staley has over 35 years of experience as an antique collector, picker and dealer. She has done hundreds of insurance and IRS appraisals in addition to just satisfying another collector or dealer’s curiosity concerning what an item is, does or its worth. Other experience includes her work as a forensics consultant and in archeological identification and dating.

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