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Two very different customer groups buy service-sets. The larger groups buy them for use and the other, smaller, group collects service-sets to display them in their glass cabinets. The second groups consists of hobby collectors who, for the moment, are quite happy with service-sets or parts thereof which show that they have been used. There is always a chance that one can change it at a later time for a better preserved example. The question of how high a price to pay for a service or for a single piece depends on many factors. An important factor is always the rarity. Not only is the model itself important but also its decoration. A certain model can have been produced many times, but it does not always carry the decoration XYZ and therefore the model with such a special decoration is more valuable than any other mass produced decoration. The rule of thumb for a "normal" widely produced service from any time after the second world war with a "normal" printed decoration is: half the price of a new comparable service that is DM 30 to DM 100 per place setting regardless as to whether the accessories (tea- and coffee-pots, lidded bowls, tureens) are still in existence.
The difficulty is to locate the original production figures. This is normally a question of experience which, apart from noted collectors, only a few serious dealers have. However, less experience is needed to establish whether a service is complete. Services are considered complete consisting of twelve, or at least six, cups and plates. An incomplete service e.g. with only five cups is of course considerably less valuable than a complete one. Age, as is widely thought, is not always proof of high value.
Some Rosenthal services have been produced for many decades with the appropriate decoration. It is comparatively easy to find out the production year by means of the stamps but, nevertheless, the item researched can still have been produced unchanged for some time afterwards. In such cases only the experience of a collector or dealer will help.
For anyone who wishes to start collecting, it is recommended that he initially start by concentrating on a certain time or on the signed pieces of a certain artist. A good start would be with coffee pots which somehow have "survived" and are therefore favourably priced.
Translated from "Rosenthal Service, Figuren, Zier- und Kunstobjekte", Dieter Struss
with kind permission of Battenberg Verlag, Augsburg Germany