This Antique fish set was my favourite discovery of 2016. It was made in a German factory known by the name of Franz Anton Mehlem and dates to the Art Nouveau period, probably between 1885 to 1905. Mehlem was in production until 1920 when the company was sold to Villeroy and Boch. The factory existed under other names from 1755 and a new factory but came into it’s own in the late 19th century when they began using two coal-fired kilns instead of the old wood-burning type kiln in the previous facility. At some point the company was renamed after the father of the two Mehlem brothers, Franz Anton Mehlem. The Mehlem company stood in direct competition with the famous company of Villeroy & Boch in Mettlach at one time, which may explain why they eventually brougth the Mehlem factory.
During the latter part of the 19th century the factory was further modernised, a few new buildings were added and a lot of old technology was replaced. New pump stations and transmissions were installed as well as modern machinery. When Everhard Mehlem died the factory changed hands again and in 1886, Franz Guilleaume, the current owner moved into the ‘Chateau du Rhin’, the Mehlem family home, which had actually been empty since the death of Everhard Joseph Mehlem in 1865. The year 1887 saw the installation of new mills and shortly afterwards a new steam engine replaced the old machinery used to knead the clay. The product range of the business changed significantly and they produced household, decorative, technical and sanitary items and also porcelain clock cases for the American Ansonia Clock Company during the latter part of the 19th century. Between 1887 and 1903 the company also produced Höchst figurines from the original molds from the defunct Höchst factory. This fish set was probably made about this time. Another two kilns and a chimney were installed around this time and the word ‘Royal’ and the year ‘1755’ were added to the company mark in 1890 and used until the company was sold to Villeroy & Boch.
This beautiful fish set, which is only missing the tureen, is an unusual example of their work as it’s flow blue with turquoise and gold and I’ve never seen one like it. They produced a lot of beautiful fish sets, many white with beautifully painted fish but this is the first flow blue one I’ve seen. There are about eight different types of fresh water fish depicted on these plates.
The 15 piece set is available to buy on Antik Seramika’s Ebay shop