A guide to collecting Rosenthal Romance
Philipp Rosenthal was a visionary industrial, who, as a 28 year old Jewish refugee, returned to Germany in 1945 to rescue the family business, founded by his grandfather in 1879. Not only did he do so, but in the decades following his return he created the most influential porcelain manufacturer of the second half of the 20th century. To me he is the German equivalent of Josiah Wedgwood.
He was not an inventor, like Josiah, he was purely a businessman. But one who was really good at finding the right people to work with. Whilst Rosenthal in the 1950s still had a lot of success with selling older shapes and patterns Philipp realised that modern times asked for a more modern approach to dinnerware. He was looking for designers from all fields who might have some interesting ideas of what modern dinnerware should be.
In 1957 Phillip spotted ceramics on a trip to Denmark. They were made by a young artist called Bjørn Wiinblad. Wiinblad was already somewhat well known in the Nordic countries. He had a few successful exhibitions with his own ceramics and illustrations and was already designing decorations for the Norwegian ceramics factory Nymolle.
Philipp asked Wiinblad to make designs for Rosenthal. In 1958 this collaboration lead to the design of Romance, or, as it is called in German, Romanze.
What is Romance
To understand what Wiinblad designed, and how to interpret the different kinds of Romance you have to first understand Rosenthal’s production. Rosenthal’s designs are always strictly separated in a form, like Romance, Sanssouci or Lotus, and a decoration, like Moss Rose, Blue Flower or New Wave. The different decors seen on Romance, which I will go into later, all have their own name, Romance strictly refers to the shape.
Romance is made of white porcelain. It is very thin, but, speaking from experience, not very prone to cracking or chipping. The shapes are elegant yet minimal, and the surface is covered with a very fine embossing of lines, dots and ovals. The design is striking, because it is very decorative without being all too classical. It must have made quiet the impression in 1958.
The Range of items with the Romance design is not extremely large. The design was applied to all the expected dinnerware items, in addition several types of vases, jars and also glassware and cutlery have been produced, due to the nature of this website I will not go into the later two categories any further. I can say that the porcelain dinnerware is far more ubiquitous.
Romance was produced until 2005. This does not mean that Rosenthal will never produce it again, but since then no new pieces have been made.
As mentioned earlier Romance refers purely to the shape of the item. Romance has been produced in pure white but it has also been issued with many different decorations, which have not necessarily all been designed by Wiinblad.
I will attempt to make a comprehensive list including images and information of most patterns applied to Romance. At the time of writing we stock 6, making it the most comprehensive range we sell.
Other decorations include: Orchid, Benares, Gold Band, Quatre Couleurs, Basquette, Platinum Band, Flame, Carillon, Primavera, Bordeaux, Rose Band, Minuet, Campagna, Maggiore, Harmony. A few other decorations exist but I have either not found them or I have not been able to find a name for them.
As mentioned before, Romance was produced between 1958 and 2005. Nearly all Romance is marked with a simple green Rosenthal logo in underglaze green. I will not go into each individual year mark for Rosenthal, there are very good sources on the internet covering that subject.
Another 1964 mark, on Romance ‘Garland’ in this case. Here you can see that the name ‘Studio Linie’ is mentioned.
All Rosenthal made after 1974 is either Studio Line (or Linie in German), Classic Rose or much later Rosenthal Versace. Studio Line was started in 1961 and referred to all of the modern designs that Rosenthal was producing. The classic designs like Maria and Sanssouci were always just ‘Rosenthal’ and became Classic Rose after 1974. The name ‘Studio Line’ is not always mentioned on the backstamp until around 1972.
And a very nice Wiinblad Signature and Studio Line logo on the bottom of a Romance in Blue candlestick holder
The name Classic Rose is mentioned on all of the classic lines by Rosenthal but is also always applied on re-issues. Underneath you see a Classic Rose backstamp on a Romance in Blue plate. I am quite sure that Romance in Blue was discontinued but re-issued later. These items carry the Classic Rose backstamp.
Production quality has remained consistent during this period, although I have seen a slight variation in the gilding on the Romance ‘In Gold’, it seems that on the newer pieces there was a little bit more oxidation on the gilding, likely a slightly lower purity of gold has been used. I do not know if this is also the case on other gilded Romance patterns, but I find it very likely. I have not seen this difference on other Rosenthal patterns.
Since most Rosenthal Romance is produced under the Studio Line brand and the production is very consistent we make no distinction and all our Romance can be found under Rosenthal Studio Line.
Taking Care of Rosenthal Romance
As mentioned before Romance is very thin. It is in fact the thinnest porcelain we stock regularly. Do not let that put you off though. I am always very surprised by the condition the sets I receive are in. I am not sure why but Romance is very durable.
A defect often seen is wear on the embossing. You should always use plate dividers (any old napkin will do) when storing Romance because the embossed porcelain easily wears from rubbing.
All Romance except for the gilded varieties can be dishwashed as porcelain is not prone to staining or crazing.
The condition of our Rosenthal Romance is always mentioned in the description. In general pieces with significant damage (cracks or chips) are discarded. Pieces without any signs of use are called ‘perfect condition’ if the piece has some wear we call it ‘excellent condition’ with the nature of the defect mentioned.