Berlioz and West German Pottery
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West German Pottery Page One

Identifying West German Pottery

This page includes bottoms, marks, and some information about companies and tendencies.

In the era from 1954-85, well over 100 German companies made collectible art pottery.  This page will focus on a much smaller group.  So this is really just a hint and should not be taken as anywhere near all the answers.

The information below is free, but I hope you'll go on to our items for sale.  Page one of the W. and E. German pottery for sale(and not common items) is here: Page One

I believe that the pictures, commentary, research gallery, essays and videos make this one of the most extensive sites designed for research on West and East German pottery.  (There are forums with more pics and such, but the forum design doesn't make research easy.)

If you have questions about identifying an item you own, I'm happy to help, but please take the time to check out the site first to make sure the information isn't already waiting.  If you do send an e-mail, include a picture of the item and the bottom.  There's not much I can do with only numbers and a description.

If all you want to know is how much your item is worth, I'm not likely to answer your question.

In addition to this page, the site includes numerous other research items.  Links are at the bottom of the page.

Anglicized and Germanic pronunciations of company names

AK (Alka Kunst) Kaiser
Go to: Kaiser
Go to: Kaiser

Bay Keramik (1933-1971?)
Started by Eduard Bay in 1933; note that it's not correct that Bay stopped art pottery production in 1971; some art production continued into the 1980s, including some striking works....and some not so striking.

Bay's best known designer was Bodo Mans, and it's common for many items to be attributed to him just because the name is known, but be sure those attributions are documented, not simply assumed.

Bay was one of the largest producers and made some very good designs.  They also made some rare specialty glazes that are utterly fantastic.  However, they also produced a huge amount of kitsch, tourist ware and designs of questionable aesthetic value.

Bay frequently did work with embossed designs, floral, geometric, or with figures from early traditions.

To see more examples of Bay Keramik, go to the Bay section of the Research Gallery

A typical Bay bottom shows white clay, and a significant percentage do have the company name, though probably not a majority.  Note the lower case "y" used at the end of Germany. 

While other companies did use such a "y", most used red clay or were much smaller companies.  It's not a guarantee, but if you find an item with white clay and that "y" as opposed to "Y", Bay is a likely guess.

Doing attributions is always a tricky business.  Note that this vase reads 73 30, while the previous one appears to be 7-30.  They are on identical forms, and the one on the right actually has a unfinished "3" that for some reason didn't fill in.
(This photo courtesy of Steve Milley.)
Bückeberg (1912-1971)
Overall production numbers are fairly low and quality of design and execution is generally high.  Among the exceptional items are the wall plaques.

This bull is from Heidi Pfaff's studio.  Pfaff also did designs for Bückeburg, including several plaques and a bull even more stylized than this one.
(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.) Follow Lisa's blog at
Although the Ruscha bull is best known, several other companies made excellent bulls and other animals.  The Bückeberg bull is highly stylized. Although distinguishing a current Otto steer from a vintage Ruscha may be a problem, there's no reason for confusion with the Pfaff designs. (See below for information about the Ruscha/Otto bull problem.)

   Carstens Tönnieshof (1945-1984)
This was simply one of many pottery factories owned by members of the Carstens factory, but it's the primary one for art pottery during this era.

When marked, Carstens has the "twin house" mark with a T over C in the middle.  They used red clay, but some items were made in Austria and Australia (by Braemore) and have white clay. 

Carstens items are of generally high quality.  Their best rank with the very best with the majority of their work well into the above average range with few weak designs.

This picture shows the standard Carstens Tönnieshof mark with two "houses" and the C over T.

This is a fairly representative unmarked bottom of a Carstens vase.  Although most Carstens items had the simple double-number system used by other W. German companies, some Carstens items do start with a letter, particularly E or M.

Primary designers included Trude Carstens, Gerda Heuckenroth, and A. Seide. (Designer list comes from Kevin Graham's cds.)

Notice that Carstens markings vary rather widely.  Most are embossed, as are markings from other WG companies, but some are incised.  They primarily used only a "W", but they do sometimes have both a period after the W and a hyphen.  They sometimes used a lower case "y" at the end of Germany, like Bay did, but the red clay makes a clear distinction from the white clay used by Bay.

See more Carstens items in the Carstens/Ceramano portion of the Photo Research Gallery.
Ceramano (1959-84)

Ceramano was started by Jakob Schwaderlapp, who also ran Jasba, to be a higher-end company, more like a studio than most commercial art potteries.  Quality was high and production numbers relatively low.  While the production from most commercial potteries is all moulded (although often with hand work in the decoration), Ceramano did both molded and hand-made pots.

Designers included Gerda Heuckenroth and Hanns Welling.

Top decors include Pergamon, Rustica, and Rubin plus rarities such as Saturn.  Many of the more subtle glazes remain under-rated.

Some Ceramano items (usually small or later items) have less information, in this case only the form number and decor/glaze name.  Note also how brown the clay is.  Clay color for Ceramano did range from dark brown to red-brown.

This is one of the typical bottoms for Ceramano, reddish-brown clay with incised marks for shape/size, decor name, company name, country, and artist's intials (mostly still unkown).

This is a typical bottom for a handmade Ceramano item with lines where a wire was used to separate it from the wheel/table.  This technique started with Japanese pottery but has been adopted by many studios in several countries.  As with other Ceramano items, marks are incised with decor, company, country and artist.  In this case, handarbeit is included, but form number is not.

See more pictures in the Carstens/Ceramano portion of the Photo Research Gallery.
Clemens & Huhn

Dümler & Breiden
D&B was one of the many companies in the Höhr-Grenzhausen region, and they produced an enormous range of styles over the years, from very traditional to strong Pop Art.

There is no "typical" D&B style in form or glaze.

Mark from the "Relief" series.

Some of the more interesting D&B items bear the "Studio" mark and number, but the full import of the Relief and Studio marks remains unclear.

One special thing to note is the "y" at the end of Germany, which is in some ways close to the style used by Bay. However, even without the other markings, the block typeface used distinguishes this item. 

Even without the company mark, there are keys that will suggest a D&B attribution.  Note how everything is centered and the typeface used for the numbers.  As with most D&B, there is also no "W" or "West".

This  is from the "klinker" style.  See notes about "klinker" in the Eiwa and Sawa sections.

This is the most typical bottom on this style of D&B work, using the same clay and marking style as the Eiwa, Sawa, and other companies. Some items in this style do have the standard company mark.

See more D&B pics in the D&B/ES section of the Photo Research Gallery.

One of several companies in the Ransbach-Baumbach area; items were made with red clay and usually featured incised designs with earthtone colors, similar to Sawa.
Eiwa, and Sawa made similar items from the same red-brown clay.

Items are hand made, and the clay is the same as that used by Sawa, Wekara,
and sometimes Dümler & Breiden.  Eiwa markings often include the decor name, Oslo
 in this case.

Research in the last few years has shown that many more companies produced klinker items as at least part of their production (items made with high-fired, red clay similar to that used for bricks).

These companies include Akru, Dümler & Breiden, Eckhardt & Engler, Eiwa, Gerz, Ilkra, J-D Klinker, Kule, Sawa, Siershan, and Ü-Keramik.

While many are hand made with incised markings, some are molded with in-mold or impressed marks.

ES (Emmons & Sohne)
(Emons & Sohne, 1921-1974)
Quality of forms and decorations covered a broad range, but the good items are very good; one of the best is pitcher form 683, later released with shape number 883.  As more items are properly attributed to ES, their status continues to rise.

This is the iconic form 683/883 with the typical ES foil label and one of their exceptional glazes.

A few ES items have the company mark,
but it's more common to find just the form number
and size number, more or less centered.  Clay is
fairly white, and the bottom is often glazed in the underglaze color.

It's not uncommon to find ES items with no markings at all.  Such items have to be attributed based on form or glaze (or label....keeping in mind that labels can be moved from item to item).

Some of the most exception items include what appear to be artist marks.  Such items usually deserve a premium price just based on the glaze, but the artist marks will probably add to that if more information about the marks ever comes to light.
Gräflich Ortenburg/Tambach
Gräfl Ortenburg (1946-1968)

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)
The Gräflich Ortenburg/Tambach mark features a crown over a shield with a jagged line from the upper left of the shield to the lower right.
Clay is typically red, but unmarked pieces are hard to attribute.

Gramann (Römhild), aka Töpferei Römhild
East German and best known for a variety of volcanic glazes.
Most items are hand made.

The "standard" Gramann glazes have a granite
look and are done in both matte and high gloss
versions.  Vases are often hand made.

Gramann also did a variety of other, typically
fascinating glazes.

Clay here is more orange than most Gramann items,
and it's believed that the larger mark denotes later work (still highly collectible).  The mark is incised and often hard to read, but it's a T over R for Töpferei Römhild.

This dark red clay is more typical of Gramann, and the
small T over R mark is in the dry foot (exposed clay ring around the glazed center.
Best known designs are by Paul Dresler, produced shortly before and perhaps shortly after WWII.

This is a classic Grootenburg glaze
designed by Paul Dresler.  Common elements are
the green "copper patina" style glaze (often found
with reddish highlights) and the incised lines.

This is the Grootenburg mark, which looks like a house or castle with a tower on each end.  The mark is quite often hard to see.  This is a particularly clear example.  The outline of Albert Kiessling's mark is almost identical, so check for signs of the towers.

Clay is a dark brown with reddish tone.

Much of Richard Uhlemeyer's work
resembles Dresler's.  See the Uhlemeyer
section for examples and comparisons.

Haldensleben (East Germany)

Although best known for high quality porcelain dinnerware and figurines, Hutschenreuther also produced some of the most striking Pop Art  vases and bowls; primary designer for these items was Renee Neue; also produced some of the most collectible white OpArt items, most designed by H. Fuchs.

Glazes on the Hutschenreuther items by
Rene Neue feature bold coloring, with orange
and purple especially popular.

Most Hutschenreuther vases have one of two
lozenge marks.

Clay is white.  (I don't know of any Hutschenreuther
items in brown or red clay, but that doesn't mean they
don't exist.)

Started by Jakob Schwaderlapp and located in Baumbach.  Well-known early decors include Cortina and Jaspatina, but the company produced a wide variety of styles, especially in the 60s. Economics forced them to stop significant art pottery production in the early 70s and survive on more utilitarian items.  They also produced their share of tourist and kitsch items during their art pottery years.

The name comes from Ja (Jakob), S (Schwaderlapp), and Ba (Baumbach).

Here's an example of why I'm picky about
the use of "fat lava" and insist that it not be used
as a synonym for West German pottery. 
Such use is an insult to exceptional work such
as this.  It's important to remember that fun
and funky describes only one portion of this
fabulous field, while classic design and glazes
were also produced.

Jasba typically used white to off-white
clay.  When marked, the company name appears
in an oval, often faint, like this one.

Jasba also sometimes used the full West-Germany
 in a rectangle, either raised as the mark above, or
 impressed as in the mark below.


NOT Jopeko, though it was previously thought to be.  See the next pic for more details.

While these "WB" items were previously attributed to Jopeko, more recent information attributes them to Oberhessische Keramik, Walther Becht KG at Schlitz, Hessen, Germany.

(As far as I know, Volker Hornbostel was first with the new attribution.)

Jopeko did a lot of traditional work and a fair
amount of smaller, touristy items.

Note how few distinctive elements this
particular base has.
Kaiser (AK Kaiser, Alka Kunst)

Kaiser did a variety of bisque work during this era, including figurines and Op Art. They aren't generally considered one of the top producers of the white-on-white designs, but some of the work is excellent.
Base usually has only a form number, no height designation.

Company mark is typically in blue, as is fairly traditional with German porcelain.  It may feature any or all of the items in this mark.

Karlsruhe items from the period sometimes have a slightly funky quality but are general more classic in form and decor compared to production from most companies.  Quality is consistently high.

The Karlsruhe mark has some attributes similar to marks from Waechtersbach and others,but inspection of details, including the word Karlsruhe when it's legible, make it possible to tell the difference.

Kerafina (Royal Porcelain)

The company is Kerafina, athough they commonly used the Royal Porzellan name, making them one of many German companies with the initials KPM...not to be confused with the famous Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Berlin (Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur).

Several of the Kerafina designs were also done in bisque combinations with high gloss or luster glazes, quite striking.  Some seem relatively common, but much of this market is unexplored.
Most items are engobe  with incised designs.  Hanns Welling worked at Keto before moving to Ruscha.

Kiechle, Arno

Kiechle items include extensive hand work and are among the highest quality in this style.  Not surprisingly, they are also hard to find.  (Keto items are often similar but generally a step down in quality.)

Design/style on many Kiechle items resembles
earlier work from Stellmacher.  Typical work has stylized figures with incised outlines colored with semi-matte to glossy glaze, all on a matte black background.

The typical Kiechle mark is vertical and probably contains a great deal of information.  The initials in the sequence vary and may refer to artist/designer,
or other aspects of the origin.  It's not clear whether or not "Orig. Kiechle" indicates a special origin, degree
of production (limited or not), or nothing in particular.  Yeah, there's still a lot of research ahead.

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)
This black volcanic ring is a common feature on Kreutz, but they aren't they only one to use it.  It's often easy to confuse Kreutz and Roth items (and some Fohr).

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)

Kreutz bases are typically unhelpful but do have red clay.


Most of the items shown here were originally attributed to Roth until Marei catalogs proved that wrong. 

Be aware that early information, including some published material, has been proven very wrong, but the misinformation and misattributions remain common on the internet.

Collectors sometimes call this an "ear" vase or "penguin" vase.

Note how the lightly glazed base has a "wiped" look.  This and the numbering style are common on the items now re-attributed to Marei (but there are other base types on Marei).  Before the mid 60s, Marei items have white clay.

Marzi & Remy

Marzi & Remy items cover a full range from
traditional to "mid-century", including steins (for which they remain better known than their art pottery).  Clay color ranges from white to red/brown.  M&R is so variable that it can be one of the most difficult to attribute when not marked.

Yes, that is a mark for Marzi & Remy.

This M over R mark is much more recognizable in its connection to the company.
Studio with Otto Gerharz doing glazes and Kurt Tschörner doing most of the early shape designs; both men had previously worked with Ruscha; later taken over by Otto Jr. and still in operation, but glazes are generally less refined and less complex.  Otto has been doing the Ruscha bull for many years.

Otto designs range from traditional jug forms to distinctively mid-century, sometimes playful, forms. (Note that this form is known in this "goblet" version and a "flipped" or upside down version.
Still, the highlight on Otto work is the glaze, and Otto Gerharz was a master with glazes.

The typical Otto base is flat and felt-covered. (But there are some with a more traditional concave base.)

The felt is usually quite difficult to remove, and all you'll find is a flat (on the high majority of items) base with white clay.

On the left is an original Ruscha bull/steer in the Vulkano (volcano) glaze (glaze designed by Otto Gerharz).  On the right is a contemporary version from Otto Keramik from the original mould.
(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)
For several years, Otto Keramik has been producing the bull/steer/bison from original Ruscha moulds.  Since neither the Ruscha originals or the Otto versions have company marks, telling one from another can be quite difficult unless you're quite familiar with what glazes Ruscha did.
Glazes on the Otto items are, of course, quite striking and collectible.  Still, even the most uncommon glazes must be collected with caution since the company is still in operation. 
Don't pay Ruscha prices for Otto versions, especially those in glazes still being made.


This is the best-known P-Keramik form.  Before
Kevin Graham managed to trace the origin, I had
suspected ES.

This is perhaps an a-typical bottom for P-Keramik
other than the white clay.

This is more typical of the P-Keramik items I've encountered.
(Töpferei) Römhild
See: Gramann

Roth (1970-

First, it seemed that Roth production was fairly limited, but as more items were attributed to them, that impression changed, and Roth moved into the upper tier.  Oops.  The original impression was closer to reality as many items have recently (Oct. 2012) been reattributed to Marei based on catalogs.

This is a fairly typical Roth base, although they will sometimes have numbers.

Now attributed to Marei based on catalogs.

Now attributed to Marei based on catalogs.

(1948-1996, name now owned by Scheurich)
Most of the best designers worked at Ruscha at one time or another, including Kurt Tschörner, Otto Gerharz, Hanns Welling, and Adele Bölz.  They were among the top producers for both vases and wall items, although they did produce some mediocre work as well, particularly some of the later wall plaques.

The early form of Ruscha 313 is one of the most iconic in W. German pottery.  The form was modified (simplified) in the early to mid 1960s.

A typical "early" Ruscha bottom, glazed with company, numbers, sometimes the decor handwritten.  Items often have decorator initials as well.

Mid period Ruscha with white clay (usually a mid-width, tidy unglazed ring).  Markings may include form number alone, form and usual height in centimeters designation, or form and a single digit size designation.

Items with the Ruscha name embossed are from the later period, but many of the glazes from this period are outstanding.

(Photo courtesy of Lisa Aspden.)

On the left is an original Ruscha bull/steer in the Vulkano/volcano glaze.  On the right is a contemporary version still in production at Otto Keramik from original Ruscha molds.

Of course, Otto Gerharz, Sr. created the Vulkano glaze for Ruscha.
For several years, Otto Keramik has been producing the bull/steer/bison from original Ruscha moulds.  Since neither the Ruscha originals or the Otto versions have company marks, telling one from another can be quite difficult unless you're quite familiar with what glazes Ruscha did.
Glazes on the Otto items are, of course, quite striking and collectible.  Still, even the most uncommon glazes must be collected with caution since the company is still in operation. 
Don't pay Ruscha prices for Otto versions, especially those in glazes still being made.

Note that the range of items made by Sawa....and the entire "klinker" much broader than originally thought, and there are far more klinker companies than were documented in early work.  Also some of the "traditional" companies produced klinker items or had them produced at one of the klinker companies.  "Klinker" is a large collectible category of its own.

Sawa items typically have finely done sgraffito work, often using the clay color as part of the design, although this one does not.

Sawa bottoms range from almost flat to slightly concave.  Markings are generally limited to a form number (sometimes incised), possibly Handarbeit, impressed. 

Research in the last few years has shown that many more companies produced klinker items as at least part of their production (items made with high-fired, red clay similar to that used for bricks).

These companies include Akru, Dümler & Breiden, Eckhardt & Engler, Eiwa, Gerz, Ilkra, J-D Klinker, Kule, Sawa, Siershan, and Ü-Keramik.

While many are hand made with incised markings, some are molded with in-mold or impressed marks.

Helmut Schaeffenacker (Schäffenacker) was one of the great German studio potters for decades.  He is still best known for his plaques, but the vases and other sculptural works are finally getting more of the attention they deserve.

Plaques are usually well-marked, but vases can be a problem.  Many of the vases listed as Schaeffenacker on eBay and other sites are misattributed.

Horses are one of the most common Schaeffenacker motifs, and this plaque is probably the most common Schaeffenacker item.  (Some items were unlimited production, some limited.  Of course, "unlimited" doesn't necessarily mean a lot were actually made.)  Note the in-mold marking in the lower corner.

This is a fairly typical mark on the back of a Schaeffenacker plaque.

Later work became increasingly stylized, most often featuring still life or animal motifs.  At 14", this is not an uncommon size, and some works were over 2 feet long.

Marked only by a label, this Schaeffenacker floor vase is more of a glaze-based design, while the more typical vase-works were explorations of sculptural form.  Without the label, this might well be taken for Italian work.  It included a metal insert that could be flipped to accomodate either long-stemmed or short-stemmed flowers.

Although the started late, Scheurich produced more items from the 1960s through the 1980s than any of the other art pottery companies.  As usual, high production numbers means a wide range of quality and quality control, but some items, especially glazes are major achievements.
Note: the embossed three circle mark was used 1990-2004, so such items are not from the most collectible era.

Most Scheurich forms are not as inventive as work by other W. German companies, but when the proportions are right, the forms work very well.  Scheurich did explore glazes more than any other comany, with results ranging from hideous to glorious, and some that get both reactions.

Some forms were done in over 200 glazes, and some glazes appear on a large number of forms.

Scheurich bases are all too often uncommunicative, like this one.  The base is glazed, and these slightly volcanic glazes, common on the 70s work, typically obscure any markings.

Clay is off-white to beige, and the clay ring varies from mid-range and tidy to some rather ragged-looking work.

While it's a bit problematic to call anything a "typical" Scheurich base, this is as close as you'll get, particularly for the middle era:  form number, size designation, and W. Germany in a circle around the inside of the clay ring.

However, you will find Scheurich items with form/height numbers centered.

While many of the companies had closed by the mid 70s, the late 70s to the mid 80s gave us some of the great Scheurich glazes, often not part of the fat lava type.

The Scheurich name began showing during the late era, late 70s and 80s.  However, even though later, these items should not be discounted since glazes are often superb.

This embossed "three-circle" mark (my designation, not Scheurich's name for it), showed up at the end of the W. German era and a bit after (roughly sometime in the mid to late 80s and into the early 90s).  With very few exceptions, items with this mark are of less aesthetic interest.  Most are unlikely to become significant collector items, and any item with this mark should be approached with caution.
These items are generally higher quality and harder to find, often difficult to attribute.

Without the label, this would have been a hard item to attribute, but the quality would favor Schlossberg anyway. 

Items are high quality,hard to find and sometimes even harder to attribute. Their iconic glaze is a crusty, volcanic fat lava in dark blue.

This is the classic Silberdistel glaze.

A Silberdistel base is typically well-defined, light, and has incised numbers, an uncommon element on W. German pottery bases.

Good to excellent quality.  Best known designers are Cari Zalloni and Heiner Balzaar.

Early Steuler mark.

Heiner Balzaar design.

Later Steuler mark (most often found).

Cari Zalloni "Facette" vase, possibly a later glaze since Zalloni typically favored monochrome glazes.

Strehla (East Germany)

Strehla is one of the most commonly found East German companies.  Designs are most likely to be described as "neat" or "cute".

Strehla bases may well show no heigh designation, just the form.  The mark is quite often blurry or weak to the point that it can be distinguished only by the unusual outline.

Ü-Keramik (Ubelacher)
Quality ranges from mediocre to very good.

This vase shows just how subtle W. German pottery can be and how the designers often liked to play with slight adjustments between forms.  Note how the right side is level, while the left side angles in toward the top.

Ü-Keramik will typically have white to off-white clay with the form/size numbers separated by a "/".  They weren't the only company to use that marking.
Uhlemeyer, Richard

This Uhlemeyer vase clearly shows the similarity to Paul Dresler's desgns at Grootenburg, but there's still no documentation about connections or influences as far as I know.  Claims that Uhlemeyer worked at Grootenburg seem to have been undocumented assumptions rather than solid research.

Uhlemeyer items may have white to red clay, but while Grootenburg bases are typically flat with no ring, most Uhlemeyer items have a distinct ring.

When marked, the double-horsehead mark is likely to be in the clay ring, with or without "Germany".

van Daalen

van Daalen bases typically have a narrow, tidy ring showing the red/brown clay.  The mark is usually in the center but often quite faint, as here.

When visible, the mark looks like a V inside a reversed C.
VEB Haldensleben
See:  Haldensleben


This vase has both the most common Waechtersbach marks, a crown over a shield and the shield mark often called a beehive mark. The "beehive" has been used by many companies for a long time, so it can often be hard to attribute. The crown and shield marks are also fairly common, but it's easier to tell one from another. The company name (which is also the town) sometimes appears with the mark.
To see our selection of better and harder to find West and East German pottery for sale start here:
West German Pottery Page One of Five
Note that Wekara did not actually produce any pottery.  The pottery was made for them and then distributed by Wekara.

Many of the "klinker" items have very similar bases.   Marks are incised, and here include form number, decor (female name), what's probably the decorator's initials, and "A", unknown meaning. 
The female name for the decor is a strong indicator that an item was made for Wekara.

Research in the last few years has shown that many more companies produced klinker items as at least part of their production (items made with high-fired, red clay similar to that used for bricks).

These companies include Akru, Dümler & Breiden, Eckhardt & Engler, Eiwa, Gerz, Ilkra, J-D Klinker, Kule, Sawa, Siershan, and Ü-Keramik.

While many are hand made with incised markings, some are molded with in-mold or impressed marks.

West German Pottery for sale:  Page One

View West German Pottery by Colors:

View West German Pottery by Height
Floor Vases (14" and taller)

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Information About W. German pottery:

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