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Prussia porcelain popular with collectors


Q: What can you tell me about my very ornate, 9-inch-high porcelain coffee pot with raspberry-colored trim around the spout, rim and foot; a mythological scene in a gold panel on the body; and gold flowers all over? It's marked with a green saint in an oval, flanked by "O" and "S" and the words "St. Ruan Germany" underneath.

A: Your early 20th-century melon-shaped coffee pot with the mark of Oscar Schlegelmilch is worth up to $400 in good condition, according to Mary Frank Gaston, author of the two-volume illustrated set, "The Collector's Encyclopedia of R. S. Prussia" (Collector Books, 1992; $26.95 from Gaston, P.O. Box 342, Bryan, Texas 77806). It's an example of what's commonly called "R. S. Prussia" porcelain, which is popular with many collectors.

Oscar Schlegelmilch was the nephew of porcelain makers Reinhold and Erdmann Schlegelmilch. Although Oscar's wares are scarcer than his uncles', prices are slightly lower because fewer people collect them, Ms. Gaston said.

In the 1860s, brothers Erdmann and Reinhold Schlegelmilch opened separate porcelain factories in Prussia, each mass producing very flamboyant table wares, primarily for export. Reinhold's pottery had the largest output of the family. He employed various marks, usually including the words "R. S. Prussia" or "R. S. Germany" (based on his initials) and a green and/or red wreath surmounted by a star. Erdmann's marks typically include "E. S. Prussia" or "E. S. Germany."

Schlegelmilch porcelain, as all three factories' output is called, also is easily identified by its distinctive molded shapes and hand-painted or transfer-printed decoration. Although most Schlegelmilch porcelain is marked, some authentic pieces are unlabeled. Fakes exist, both marked and unmarked, so buyers beware, Ms. Gaston advised.

Among the most sought-after Schlegelmilch porcelains are those decorated with exotic animals, particularly lions and tigers. Animal-decorated vases or tankards can fetch several thousand dollars each in good condition, according to Ms. Gaston. Wares decorated with finely painted romantic portraits also can bring over $1,000 each. More typical examples, such as landscapes, mythological scenes or copies of famous 19th-century paintings, usually sell for $200 to $800 each, depending on size, rarity and condition. Floral-decorated Schlegelmilch porcelain is the most common, generally bringing from $40 to $200 a piece.

For information about the International Association of R. S. Prussia Collectors, contact Jenny Lou Huston, 14215 Turtle Rock, San Antonio, Texas 78232. Annual dues ($20) include the group's quarterly newsletter and an invitation to its annual convention, next set for July 29 to Aug. 1, in Mount Vernon, Ill.

Q: The 50th anniversary of the musical "Oklahoma!" has me wondering about my original cast recording on the Decca label. Is it valuable?

A: On March 31, 1943, the curtain rose at Broadway's St. James Theater on Rogers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" forever changing the American musical. It was the first hit musical with a plot about ordinary people, rather than gangsters or show girls, and also was the first Broadway show for which a fully orchestrated original cast recording was made. Decca sold millions of these records, making yours too common to command more than $1, according to vintage record and phonographic memorabilia collector Steven Ramm, 420 Fitzwater St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147, (215) 922-7050.

Other "Oklahoma!" memorabilia can command strong prices. An original 14-by-22-inch, brightly colored lithographed theater "window card" by artist Witold Gordon, depicting a stylized scene of dancers in Western garb with the show's title emblazoned on a diagonal, retails for around $300 to $400. Its decorative appeal and rarity make it costly, explained vintage poster dealer George Theofiles, of the Miscellaneous Man, P.O. Box 1776, New Freedom, Pa. 17349, (717) 235-4766.

A Playbill from the original run of "Oklahoma!" totaling 2,248 performances, is worth around $5 to $10, said Broadway theater program collector Stuart Levy, 8 Foxboro Lane, Old Brookville, N.Y. 11545, (516) 759-9388. Scarce opening night Playbills in good condition can fetch up to $50 each, he added.

' Solis-Cohen Enterprises

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