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Pattern Paradox

Next to a few other examples people may eventually notice that both Alboth & Kaiser (Kronach) and Jaeger & Co. (Marktredwitz) at one time - per coincidence - shared certain transfer decorations. This of course resulted in two non-related companies offering different items with one and the same pattern which was not only confusing for the domestic market back then but also results in puzzled faces when people check out certain series of US importer/distriutor/retailer Ebeling & Reuss (Philadelphia).

The whole matter was a result of the flourishing business with designs and ready-made transfer sheets, something which is still widely unknown outside the printing world and therefore may require further explanation: when a factory wanting to use transfer decorations did not have an own design department or decal printing facility the required patterns were ordered via regular printers or their traveling representatives. Sometiems it was merely a matter of being approached by a printing company which had just acquired a new design and was looking for a potential buyer. In fact it was not unusual that printing companies had a large range of ready-made patterns in stock and sometimes even employed scouts which actively searched for new material.

Depending on situation and design, the customer could either purchase the exclusive rights of a design (which was relatively expensive) or decide to buy a certain amount of printed sheets only. The latter choice was of course far cheaper but always included the possibility that other factories could (per coincidence or intentionally) legally use the same design.

One has to hold in mind that copyright regarding form/design was only possible when a producing factory was also legal owner of a design in full; merely purchasing a certain amount of sheets was insufficient as it was a non-exclusive deal, therefore items showing such a decoration could not be protected pattern-wise as all rights regarding the pattern/transfer - especially reproduction and sale in any form - remained with the printing company.

Cases in which German producers actually chose the cheaper path and eventually created what some people call a pattern paradox are few and far between. These proceedings however are very well known in other segments of the porcelain world: nearly every amateur/collector/dealer will recognize items with transfer decorations based on former 'courting couple' style oil paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Angelika Kaufmann or Antoine Watteau as the cheap (and even back then long royalty-free) transfers were sold over and over and over again, re-surfacing on items by dozens of different factories and decoration studios not only throughout Europe but even the United States and eventually Japan.

Let us backtrack to Alboth & Kaiser, Jaeger & Co. and Ebeling & Reuss. That the post-World-War-II series '1599' sold by Alboth & Kaiser presents itself with exactly the same transfers as a post-World-War-II series sold by Jaeger & Co. is one thing; the other is that items of the latter where sold via Ebeling & Reuss as parts of their Harvest series. People checking this should be aware that the Harvest series is also both body- and pattern-wise very similar to the Ebeling & Reuss series Orchard. This may lead to further confusion when items from the Harvest series are listed as Orchard or vice-versa, plus the fact that mixed sets thereof are sometimes sold as one.

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