A tale of two urns - one Meissen and the other only marked N 18 and some squiggles

by Sarah

White and gold urn - front

White and gold urn - front


Hi there, I hope you can help me.

I am trying to find out what I can about the urn that you can see in the photos. I can’t get anywhere searching for information online - I am not even sure how to read the marks and what I should be searching for.

We recently inherited two urns from a member of my husband’s family; a blue one and the white and gold one in the pictures. At that time I knew nothing about porcelain.

However, we were curious to know what they were, so I started doing some reading. The more I read, the more interested I got, though I find the amount of information quite daunting. When I was searching for information I came across this site and I am hoping someone may be able to help me.

The person these came from had a small china collection (mainly blue and white, Caughley and Worcester, and smaller items than these urns) which was very well documented and labelled – these items were definitely not part of the collection but had obviously been in her possession for many years.

After some research trying to identify the marks, I think the blue urn is Meissen. It has a crossed sword mark on the base that was fairly easy to search for. When we realised that the blue urn might be Meissen it made us think -could the urns have been in the family for a while?

My husband’s family is originally from Germany and that would explain both why they had been kept and why they weren’t part of the carefully documented collection.

The blue urn is about 15 inches tall; the blue colour is really rich but the gold colour has rubbed off in places. Both sides of the urn are the same. At the bottom of the handles there are two heads on each side
– I think these look like swans.

The mark is painted pained on the base. The white and gold urn is a bit shorter, about 12 inches tall. The gold appears much more solid than that on the blue urn. The picture on the front looks like some sort of oriental coastal scene. On the other side of the urn there is a gold wreath. The bottom is unglazed and unfortunately there is no obvious mark painted on it.

The main problem is that I can’t make any headway on finding out anything about the white and gold urn as I can’t identify anything from the marks. The base is unglazed and I can’t see a mark painted on it. However, there are some marks scratched into two corners of the base. These are very difficult to read and even harder to photograph.

To make them distinct enough to photograph I have rubbed some brown powder over the base and then brushed it off leaving it in the marks. As you can see on the photographs, on one corner there is a fairly clear ‘N 18’, where the ‘N’ is in a fancy script.

The mark on the other corner (the one to the left of the N 18) is harder to make and I’m not even sure which way up it should be. It is not as deep or clear as the N 18. It might be f 0 1 or 10 f or 10 S T or maybe it is a symbol and not letters or numbers at all, I’m not sure. Also, I’m not sure which of the two corners is the main mark that I should be trying to identify!

I would be very interested if anyone can help identify what these marks are or give me any more information about the urn.

Many thanks for reading this and for your help.


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