When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, it not only liberated those Germans who had been dominated by Communist rule for 28 years, it also revealed artistic treasures that had long been hidden. One of those treasures is a small family business, porcelain manufacturer, “Wagner & Apel 1877”.
Located in Lippelsdorf, a tiny village in the Thuringian Forest, W&A has been run by the Wagner family since 1883. Their line of exquisite, fine porcelain figurines gained fame throughout Germany in the early part of the century. All the figures were designed exclusively for the company and hand-painted, as they still are.
After WWII, East Germany took over the plant as a state-run property. The original family owners and their descendants were allowed to work there, but only as employees! Consequently, they were able to maintain their skills as artisans and designers. When Germany was reunited in 1990, the owners were given back their firm.
Today, “Wagner & Apel 1877” carries on its proud tradition with a staff of only 15 people. The small output and high quality of the product makes the line extremely collectible. Pieces are marked with the W&A blue bottom-stamp, and each comes with a certificate of authenticity.
The company produces many different lines, notably its animal figurines, and traditional children figurines, based on the drawings of Hilla Peyk. They even produce a porcelain chess set!
For nearly 60 years, W&A has been unavailable to North American collectors. As the company starts gearing up for its 125th anniversary, it’s definitely a collectible to watch for.