A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU

an article of Prof. David N. Nikogosyan,
University College Cork, Cork, Ireland,
for
ASCAS - Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
a small collection of antique silver and objects of vertu
A list of articles on European continental silver plate marks collected by Prof. David N. Nikogosyan, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
(click on photos to enlarge image)

MARKS OF EUROPEAN SILVER PLATE: XIV.
WÜRTTEMBERGISCHE METALLWARENFABRIK (WMF)
Marks of Hollow Ware and Trays

WMF is the abbreviation for Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik, which in English means Wurtemberg Metalware Factory. The history of this foundry is well documented [1,2,3]. WMF was created in 1880 after the successful merger of two Wurtemberg foundries, the Geislingen factory belonging to Daniel Straub (Straub & Sohn) and the Esslingen factory of Alfred Ritter (A. Ritter & Co.). The first foundry was commercially more successful, while the second one was using a more advanced technology of galvanic silver deposition, which was first applied in Esslingen by the German chemist Carl Haegele (in 1871), the brother-in-law of Alfred Ritter. In 1881, after the retirement of Daniel Straub, Carl Haegele became the managing director of WMF. In the same year the Esslingen factory was dismantled and its equipment was incorporated into the Geislingen foundry. During the next thirty years WMF experienced a period of rapid expansion, which lasted until the beginning of the World War in 1914.

In 1886, WMF bought the Russian company of Roman Plewkiewicz (Roman Plewkiewicz & Co.) in Warsaw to establish itself on the huge Russian market. This WMF branch was mostly importing the base-metal items from Geislingen, performing silver-plating and then selling them in Russia under their own marks, see my recent article in ASCAS Newsletter [4]. In 1897, WMF acquired the Göppingen factory of nickel-plated wares (Metallwarenfabrik Schauffler & Safft), situated near Stutgart in Württemberg, and then the director of this factory, Hans Schauffler, became the next WMF managing director (in 1898) and kept this position for the next seven years, until 1905. The WMF board of directors also moved to Göppingen. In 1900, WMF took control over the Vienna foundry of silver-plated wares, Albert Köhler & Cie. This firm like R. Plewkiewicz company would stay under WMF until 1914 and would also produce items under its own mark. Finally, in 1905, WMF bought the controlling interest of the Cologne firm Orivit A.G., producing the items from tin-based alloys. The export of silver-plated table ware and domestic items continuously grew, which is testified by the publishing of WMF catalogues in three languages. Three consecutive editions of the English WMF catalogue were published in 1900, 1906 and in 1910. In 1914, the number of employees working only at Geislingen factory reaches 3500 and WMF became the largest industry producer in whole Wurtemberg.

A view of Geislingen factory taken from the 1912 WMF headed form.

The WMF silver-plated production made in around 1900-1910 is extremely popular among western antiques collectors. This is because these tableware and household items are considered as the best samples of Art Nouveau style, which is also known as Jugendstil in Germany and Secession in Austro-Hungary. Every year the famous London publisher Dorling Kindersley Ltd. issues an Antique Price Guide, which reflects the current situation on the British antique market. Inside this book two whole pages are devoted to silver-plated WMF items. At the same time, other renowned European producers of silver plate, such as Charles Christofle (France), August Wellner Soehne (Germany), Arthur Krupp Berndorf (Austria-Hungary) are not mentioned at all. On Internet ebay auctions up to ten thousands of silver-plated WMF are selling simultaneously. The corresponding prices often reach hundreds of euro or even more. Recently, Antique Collectors' Club published as a reprint the 1906 English WMF catalogue with an extensive introduction written by renowned German art historian Dr. Graham Dry [3]. This luxurious 400 pages edition contains the description of more than two thousand silver-plated objects of tableware and domestic utensils and mentions the price and quality of each item and serves as self-promotion for the best European Art Nouveau silver-plated products.

Early silver-plated Art Nouveau WMF items made in 1886-1903.

My interest in WMF marks originated from a trip to Hungary in 2005. Being in Veszprém, I visited a local antique shop and was attracted by a set of four beautiful Art Nouveau silver-plated tea glass holders. The owner of the shop asked only 40 US dollars for this set and I immediately purchased it. On the bottom of each item there was a three-letter mark "W.M.F." and the model number "345". Returning home, I looked through the full list of WMF marks, given in the above-mentioned reprint edition of the 1906 English WMF catalogue [3], as well as in the monograph of Annette Denhardt [1], and did not find anything similar to the marks on my Hungarian tea glass holders. In both sources it was stated that the main WMF mark, used in 1880-1925, consists of the image of a running ostrich put inside the rhombus with a two-line inscription WMF/G, which is in turn placed in a rectangle or in an arch. Such a discovery made me very upset and after some hesitation I came to the sad conclusion that probably my Hungarian holders are not genuine, or, in the better case, a modern replica.

One of my "Hungarian" tea glass holders.


Whatever happens, it is always for the best! With time I had realized that on ebay auctions there is a great number of silver-plated WMF items with marks similar to those on my Hungarian tea glass holders, that means containing the three-letter inscription "WMF", with or without dots, and in some cases the letters "M" and "F" were joined together. Some of the items were dated by the 1890-1900 period. Later I found similar marks in online publications for silver collectors, e.g., in [5]. The extraordinary situation evolved: some WMF marks exist which are well known to collectors but somehow ignored in the publications made by serious art historians. I decided to investigate this point and soon collected about twenty "unofficial" WMF marks, between them was also the mark found on my "Hungarian" tea glass holders. The photographs of these marks are given below in the list of WMF marks.


Two WMF Art Nouveau vases, issued in 1903, their inscriptions and marks.

In my previous investigation of hollow ware WMF marks [6], I have divided all the "unofficial" WMF letterings, issued between 1880 and 1903, into four groups. In this communication, I am proposing a new scheme of four-group division of these "unofficial" marks.

The marks of the first group (used in 1880-1886) contain the word "WMF", formed of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", with dots in between or without and made with a "sans serif" font. Interestingly, sometimes the letters "M" and "F" are joined together. Such a "merged" style of writing was borrowed from the early marks of Berndorfer Metallwarenfabrik (Berndorf Metalware Factory) or BMF in Austro-Hungary, which were in use in 1870-1880 [7].

The BMF mark used by Berndorf Metalware Factory in 1870-1880.
AS is the abbreviation of "Alpacca Silber".

The second group (1886-1903) contains numerous marks with four-letter inscriptions, with dots or without, made with both "serif" (rarely) and "sans serif" fonts and sometimes put in a cartouche. Older marks are made with a "serif" font and put in a cartouche. These four-letter inscriptions are the combinations of the word "WMF" with one of the following letters: "M" or "B", in such a way notating the base metal used for silvering, that means brass ("M" from Messing, the German name of brass) or tin-containing alloy, so-called Britannia metal ("B"), respectively. Rarely, the letter "N" (Neusilber or Alpacca) is also used for marking.

Some WMF hollow ware marks from the second group (1886-1903)

The third group of WMF hollow ware marks (1898-1903) doesn't contain any three- or four-letter WMF inscriptions. Contrary to the previous group of marks, it consists of a one-word inscription "GEISLINGEN", made by a "sans serif" font and put in a rectangular frame. This mark was issued in order to designate the use of Argentan alloy as a base metal for silver-plating. However, the proposed mark of Argentan alloy was certainly a kind of gimmick, as Argentan is simply another name for Alpacca or Neusilber.

Now a short digression: during the 1997-2013 period, while working in University College Cork, Ireland, I bought for my collection about six WMF hollow ware pieces through ebay.co.uk (at that time I didn't use ebay.de due to my poor knowledge of German). Just recently, I have noticed that the marks of all my items purchased in the UK use a three-letter WMF inscription, made with a "serif" font. Besides, they bear original secondary marks, like EP (electro-plated) or NS (nickel silver). After that, I decided to look through the WMF pieces selling today at ebay.com [wmf art nouveau silver plate, 550 items] and ebay.de [wmf jugendstil versilbert, 1400 items]. While on ebay.com I found rather easily a dozen of pieces with the marks, similar to those on the UK-purchased items, on ebay.de I failed to find any such marks. This finding certainly shows that all my items, purchased in the UK, bear export WMF marks. Moreover, I have found that my other four WMF objects (including the "Hungarian" tea glass holder, discussed above) bought on the territory of former Austria-Hungary bear another three-letter WMF mark, made with a "sans serif" font and put in a rectangular frame, which was also identified as an export mark. It should be emphasized that these marks are specific for hollow ware items, as the export marks for cutlery are different. An exception is the oldest "fancy" export mark with a broken "F" letter in the WMF inscription, which was made with a "sans serif" font and used simultaneously on hollow ware and cutlery items. The export WMF hollow ware marks used between 1880 and 1903 are included in the fourth group.

Typical WMF export hollow ware marks.

The dating of marks was made by using dated hollow ware items from my collection (I was lucky to purchase sixteen dated pieces), as well as by the presence/absence of certain stylistic details on these items. The correctness of the dating is justified by the fact that most of the items bearing the WMF marks from the first group or early WMFM ones from the second group were issued before the appearance of Art Nouveau style (before 1895) and, in line with this, were not mentioned at all in the 1906 WMF catalogue [3]. At the same time, the majority of the objects from the second group, made in Art Nouveau style and bearing late WMFB marks, were described in the above-mentioned catalogue or in the 1901 catalogue of the Roman Plewkiewicz firm [8].

In 1903, all above-discussed WMF hollow ware marks were replaced by the famous, so-called, "ostrich" WMF mark. It is widely accepted [2,3], that the choice of the ostrich image for the WMF mark could be explained by the consonance between the name of one of WMF founders (Straub) and the German name of the ostrich (Strauss). What was much less known (or simply ignored) is that the ostrich mark looks very similar to the goat mark, which was used in 1888-1932 by the famous French foundry "Manufacture de l'Alfenide". This firm also produced very successful Art Nouveau silver-plated items (under the trade name "GALLIA") and, like WMF, used a tin-containing alloy as a base metal for silvering [9,10].

A famous ostrich mark, used by WMF in 1903-1910 (left), and the goat mark of silvering,
used by "Manufacture de Alfenide" in 1888-1932 (right).

Concerning the date of WMF ostrich mark appearance, I have strong evidence that the first ostrich WMF mark appeared exactly in 1903 and not in 1880, as was stated before in [1,3]. Such a statement is supported by the following data:

1) I have at my disposal two advertisements, devoted to Argentan-based WMF products, both hollow ware and cutlery (see photos of these ads in accompanied paper on the marks of WMF cutlery). These ads were issued in 1898 and in 1903. So the production of WMF items from the third group of marks (predecessors of those with ostrich mark) continued until 1903.

2) I have collected three dated WMF products with GEISLINGEN mark, a 0,3 L silver-plated teapot, dated 1901, and two 20 cm long silver-plated forks, each dated 14.11.1902.

3) I purchased a decorative silver-plated vase, bearing the WMFM mark and dated 31.07.1903, see the photo above. So the production of WMF items with marks from the second group of marks (predecessors of those with ostrich mark) also continued until 1903.

4) Very recently, after a decade of continuous search, I finally bought a small beautiful beaker with the first ostrich mark and dated 1903, see the photo above.

I also possess in my collection a number of WMF pieces, bearing the ostrich mark and dated 1904 (twice), 1907 (twice) and 1910. I saw a WMF piece on Internet, dated 1909. Therefore, I can conclude that the first ostrich mark appeared in 1903 and was used until 1910.

WMF Art Nouveau pieces marked by the first "ostrich mark" (1903-1910).

In 1909/1910, two new WMF ostrich marks were introduced. They bear the image of a running ostrich inserted in a rhombus with a two-line inscription WMF/G, which in turn is placed inside a fully (or partly) dashed arch, see photos below. These two marks were used during a long period of time. According to [1,3], the first of these two small-size marks was applied on WMF goods, exported to France. In my opinion, after 1914 the export to France was stopped due to obvious reasons and after that this mark was applied to the goods made from non-ferrous metals and their alloys, like copper, brass, nickel, etc. The silver-plated products with such a mark are very rare. Contrary to that, the production of non-ferrous WMF products with this mark continued until 1930. The second ostrich mark was introduced in 1910 for the internal market and was used for silver-plated products until 1925. This supposition is justified by the dated WMF objects collected by me and possessing such a mark; they are dated 1910, 1914, 1916, 1920 and 1925.

The ostrich marks, containing the image of ostrich put in rhombus, which is further
placed inside a fully-dashed (left) or partly-dashed (right) arch, respectively.

It should be emphasized that the first three ostrich marks for hollow ware are accompanied by numerous additional marks (see below inside the list of WMF marks). Amongst these marks two are abundant; they are associated with the artificial change of colour of silver coating to the grey (mark "OX", so-called, oxidized silver) or very dark (nearly black) grey (mark "as", so-called, antique silver finish). The reason for such artificial darkening is that the WMF pieces were often issued together with glass inlets (e.g., centrepieces for the table), or were used with the glass (e.g., tea glass holders), and the darkened silver coating goes perfectly with the glass. In connection with this, it is very regretful to realize that many WMF pieces with the darkened silver coating were ruthlessly polished up to a full glitter by ignorant antiques dealers or ebay sellers, effectively "killing" the genuine appearance.



WMF Art Nouveau non-silvered tea glass holder marked by the second "ostrich mark" (1909-1930).

WMF Art Nouveau sugar bowl marked by the third "ostrich mark" (1910-1925).

From 1920, WMF introduced the new small mark for silver-plated items, containing a special 2D combination of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", placed in a rectangle. As I have two WMF items with this mark dated 1922 and 1925, I thought that this new mark was used until the mid-twenties. However, according to recently found information (see the reference in the accompanying paper), the period of use for that mark could be prolonged up to 1930. The same 2D combination of these three letters, placed in a partly dashed arch, was turned to account as the main mark for silver-plated items for next five years. Finally, the same 2D combination of three letters, "W"", "M", and "F", but placed in an "empty" arch, was used in 1935-1945.

WMF marks, containing a 2D combination of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", placed in
a rectangle (left); in a partly dashed arch (center), and in an "empty" (right) arch. These marks were used in
1920-1930, 1930-1935, and 1935-1945, respectively.

In the second half of the Twenties, to mark highly-artistic products, designed in fashionable Art Deco style, WMF reintroduced the image of a running ostrich in a rhombus. This ostrich mark differs significantly from other ostrich marks. Firstly, there is an absence of a rectangle or an arch. Secondly, the size of the rhombus is much larger. Thirdly, the inscription of "WMF"/"G" under the ostrich disappeared. Fourthly, the tail of the Art-Deco ostrich is either hidden, or turned up in comparison with the tail of the Art Nouveau ostrich (Mark 6 in the list of WMF marks given below), which is always turned down.

A decorative WMF ash-tray made in Art Deco style.

Art Deco WMF marks, containing the image of the running ostrich in a rhombus and used in
c.1925-c.1930.

From 1925, the marking of silver-plated WMF hollow ware items became rather poor. Additional marks were not used at all. Even the amount of silver used for plating was not designated. Therefore, it is rather difficult to distinguish silver-plated and metal WMF hollow ware products issued between 1925 and 1945. This occured partly as a consequence of World Economic Crisis and the following disappearance of silver-plated tableware fashion. Nevertheless, the WMF foundry focussed its efforts on other products, e.g., stainless steel tableware, and survived this hard time. The production of WMF silver-plated tableware continued until at least 1970.

All photographs in text were made by David N. Nikogosyan. The photographed items are from private collection of David N. Nikogosyan, Bonn, Germany.

LITERATURE

[1] Annette Denhardt. Das Metallwarendesign der Württembergischen Metallwarenfabrik (WMF) zwischen 1900 und 1930. Historismus Jugendstil Art Deco. (Lit Verlag, Munster, 1993), pp.1-231 [in German].
[2] Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk and Claudia Kanowski, Modern Art of Metallwork (Berlin: Bröhan Museum, 2001), pp.352-365.
[3] Art Nouveau Domestic Metalwork from Württembergische Metallwaren Fabrik, Reprint of 1906 Catalogue, Second Edition (Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., Woodbridge, 2008), pp.1-392.
[4] David N. Nikogosyan. Hollow Ware Marks of Warsaw Silver Plate Factories Operated in the Russian Empire: Bros. Henneberg, Bros. Buch, Wola Factory, Plewkiewicz & Schiffers. http://www.ascasonline.org/articoloDICEM165.html, 2012.
[5] Giorgio Busetto. A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of Vertu. http://www.silvercollection.it/, 2012
[6] David N. Nikogosyan. Early WMF Silver Plate Marks. Silver Magazine, Vol.43, No.1, pp.18-20 (2011)
[7] Ingrid Haslinger, David N. Nikogosyan. Early Marks of Berndorf Metalware Factory. Silver Magazine, Vol.42, No.1, pp.12-15 (2010)
[8] Joanna Paprocka-Gajek. Platery Warszawskie. Katalogi i Cenniki Firmowe. Plyta CD. Warszawa: Muzeum Palac w Wilanowie, 2010, pp.1-375 [in Polish]. English translation: Silver Plated Items produced in Warsaw. 28 Catalogues and Price Lists of 8 Warsaw Silver Plate Companies on a CD disc.
[9] David N. Nikogosyan. Marks of European Silver Plate: VII. Gallia, Alfenide/Christofle, France. http://www.ascasonline.org/windowOTTOB77.html, 2010
[10] David N. Nikogosyan. Gallia and its Predecessors: History and Marks. Silver Magazine, Vol.45, No.5, pp.32-40 (2013)  

List of WMF Hollow Ware & Tray Marks

For each mark, first the main inscription/image is given, then the full images together with the secondary markings are presented, after that each secondary marking is illustrated separately and explained.

PERIOD & MARK
COMMENT
1  
1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886

The first group of WMF marks contains the inscription composed of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", sometimes the letters "M" and "F" are joined together. All inscriptions are made with a "sans serif" font. In some cases, the dots inside the inscription and after it are also present. The possible reason for that is discussed above. The length of "WMF" inscriptions varies in the range 3.1-4.0 mm. Some marks from this group are rare/very rare.
 

 
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886
WMF mark 1880 - c.1886

A full WMF mark image for the first group contains the volume designation in litres (1 litre corresponds to 1000 cm3). Note a comma which is used for the volume designation. Some secondary markings are used as well. The fraction "I/O" means the normal thickness of silver deposited onto the surface of the base metal (usually, on brass). The two-letter inscription "as" means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a nearly black colour, the so-called "antique silver finish".
 

2
 
c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903

The second group of WMF marks contains the marks with four-letter letterings, with dots or without, which are the combinations of the word "WMF" with the following letters: "M", "N" (rarely) or "B". Such a way of marking allows the designation of the base metal used for silvering, i.e., brass, in German "Messing" ("M"), nickel silver, in German "Neusilber" ("N"), or tin-containing alloy, in German "Britannia metall" ("B"), respectively. All the inscriptions are made both with "serif" (rarely) or "sans serif" fonts and sometimes are put in a cartouche. Older inscriptions are made with a "serif" font and put in a cartouche. The length of WMFM, WMFN and WMFB inscriptions varies in the range 3.2-5.6 mm. There are other varieties from this group which are not shown here, but exist in the literature, e.g., "W.M.F.B". Some marks from this group are rare/very rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1887 - c.1903

A full WMF mark image for the second group contains the volume designation in litres. Note the use of a fraction for designation. Some secondary markings are used as well, the meaning of "I/O" and "as" designations is explained above. The two-letter inscription "OX" ("oxydiert" in German, "oxidized" in English) means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a grey colour.
The "O" letter put in a rhombus means an increased (by 1.5 times) thickness of plated silver layer. The size of the "O" rhombus is between 1.5 mm x 2.6 mm and 1.9 mm x 2.9 mm. The double-letter inscription "gg" is an abbreviation of the German expression "ganz vergoldet", which means "entirely gilded".  

 
c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903

If there is no enough space for marking, then the special "small mark" should be applied. In this period, WMF factory used the standard cutlery marks, namely, four-letter inscriptions WMFN and W.M.F.N., given in italics. They are discussed in detail in my accompanying paper on WMF cutlery mark. The letter "N" is the sign for Neusilber (Alpacca), used as a base metal for silvering. The length of WMFN inscription is 3.4-3.9 mm. Rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903

WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903

The full "small mark" contains besides above-discussed symbols I/O, OX and as (all given without a rectangular frame), the so-called "antler" mark, developed from the Wurtemberg Coat of Arms and used at around 1900 on nickel silver flatware. The meaning of such marking is not clear. It could be the 20 year jubilee of the WMF firm or simply the celebration of the new century. There are two varieties of this mark, one antler image is strait, while the other is convex. The size of the antler mark frame is between 1.1 mm x 2.7 mm and 1.2 mm x 2.9 mm.
 

 
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1890 - c.1903

If Art Nouveau WMF item, issued in around 1900 or later, bears a full mark without any silvering designation, that means it contains no silver and has been made entirely of base metal.
 

3
 
c.1898 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1898 - c.1903

A special mark for WMF Argentan/Alpacca-based silver-plated hollow ware products. It consists of the one-word inscription "GEISLINGEN" of 6.6-6.7 mm length, made by a "sans serif" font and put in a rectangular frame. Rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1898 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1898 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1898 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1898 - c.1903

A full mark for this pattern includes a comma in the volume designation (cf. the full mark for the first group). Besides, there is a rectangle with digits, which correspond to the amount of silver (in grams) used for plating. The rectangle with 4-digit "1901" inscription corresponds to the year of issue.  

4
 
c.1886 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1886 - c.1903

The oldest WMF export mark which was used simultaneously on hollow ware and cutlery items. It consists of a "fancy" three-letter WMF inscription, put in an oval. The peculiarity of this mark is a broken "F" letter in the WMF inscription. No secondary markings were found for this mark. The size of the oval is 1.8 mm x 2.8 mm. Beautiful and very rare!
 

 
c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903

Next WMF export mark for hollow ware items was used for the items exported to the UK (and/or to the US) in the above-mentioned period. Such mark contains again a three-letter WMF inscription with dots or without (preferentially), but contrary to previous mark made with a "serif" font and put in a rectangular frame. The length of the three-letter WMF inscription varies in the range 4.7-6.0 mm. Rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c.1895 - c.1903
WMF mark c. 1885 - c.1895

A full mark for WMF hollow ware items, exported to the UK (and/or to the US), contains some new secondary marks. The two-letter inscription EP means "electroplate". Another two-letter inscription "NS" means nickel silver (Alpacca, Neusilber) and serves as a designation of a base metal for silvering. The size of the "EP" box varies between 1.5 mm x 2.9 mm and 2.1 mm x 3.9 mm. The size of the "NS" box varies between 1.7 mm x 3.2 mm and 2.2 mm x 3.8 mm. The size of the frame for the "convex" antler mark is 1.2 mm x 2.7 mm.
 

 
WMF mark c. 1885 - c.1895
WMF mark c. 1885 - c.1895
WMF mark c. 1885 - c.1895

If exported WMF item (issued around 1900 and later) bears a full mark without any silvering designation, that means it contains no silver and has been made entirely of base metal.


 
5
 
c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

The famous ostrich mark consists of the image of a running ostrich put inside the rhombus with a two-line inscription WMF/G (G is for Geislingen), which is in turn placed in a dashed rectangle. The size of the rectangle varies between 3.6 mm x 4.2 mm and 3.9 mm x 4.7 mm. A widespread mark, though it is rather difficult to find one in perfect condition.
 

 
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

The full mark uses numerous secondary markings, all are applied in a rectangular frame. The fraction "I/O" means the normal thickness of silver deposited on the surface of the base metal. The size of the "I/O" box varies between 1.9 mm x 2.3 mm and 2.2 mm x 2.6 mm. The one-letter inscription "B" means the use of Britannia metal (tin-based alloy) as a base metal for silvering. The size of the "B" box varies between 1.8 mm x 2.1 mm and 2.1 mm x 2.4 mm. The two-letter inscription "MB" means a combined use of both brass (M) and Britannia metal (B) as base metals. The size of the "MB" box is about 2.2 mm x 3.5 mm. The absence of any base metal designations means the use of brass as a base metal. The "M" designation alone was never used at this period. The two-letter inscription "OX" ("oxydiert" in German, "oxidized" in English) means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a grey colour. The size of the "OX" box varies between 1.9 mm x 2.1 mm and 2.2 mm x 2.5 mm. The two-letter inscription "as" means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a nearly black colour, the so-called "antique silver finish". The size of the "as" box varies between 1.9 mm x 2.3 mm and 2.2 mm x 2.6 mm. Finally, the six-petal rosette probably means "Special order" or "Special issue". The size of this box is about 2.1 mm x 2.1 mm.
 

 
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

If a hollow ware WMF item, issued between 1903 and 1910, bears a full mark without any silvering designation, that means it contains no silver and is made entirely of base metal.
 

 
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

If there is not enough space for marking, then the special "small marks" should be applied. In this period, WMF factory used in such cases the standard cutlery mark, namely, the "ostrich" image in rhombus. The size of the rhombus varies between 1.8 mm x 2.5 mm and 1.9 mm x 2.7 mm. This mark is discussed in detail in the accompanying paper on WMF cutlery marks.
 

 
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

The full "small mark" contains also the inscription "WMF" in italics and silvering mark "I/O". Sometimes, the silvering mark is absent. That means, the item is made entirely of a base metal. The length of the WMF inscription is 3.2-3.6 mm. Very rare.
 

6  
c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910
WMF mark c.1903 - c.1910

Next WMF export mark for hollow ware items was used for the items exported to Austria-Hungary in the period between 1903 and 1910. Such mark contains again a three-letter WMF inscription with dots (mostly) or without, made with a "sans serif" font and put in a rectangular frame. In this case, the secondary marks are never used. The length of the three-letter WMF inscription varies in the range 4.5-4.9 mm. Very rare.
 

7  
c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920

This ostrich mark was developed to mark export goods made for France. It contains the image of a running ostrich inserted in the rhombus with a two-line inscription WMF/G, which in turn was placed inside a fully-dashed arch. The size of the arch varies between 1.4 mm x 1.8 mm and 2.1 mm x 3.0 mm. The silver-plated products with this mark are very rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1920
The full mark uses numerous secondary markings, most of them (older ones) are applied in a rectangular frame. The fraction "I/O" means the normal thickness of silver deposited on the surface of the base metal. The size of the "I/O" box is about 2.0 mm x 2.5 mm. The one-letter inscription "B" means the use of Britannia metal (tin-based alloy) as a base metal for silver deposition. The size of "B" box is about 1.8 mm x 2.3 mm. The one-letter inscription "N" stands for Neusilber and serves as a designation of a base metal for silvering. The size of the "N" box is 1.8 mm x 2.0 mm. The two-letter inscription "OX" ("oxydiert" in German, "oxidized" in English) means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a grey colour. The size of the "OX" box is about 2.1 mm x 2.6 mm. The six-petal rosette means "Special Order" or "Special Issue". The size of the box with six-petal rosette is 2.1 mm x 2.1 mm.  
 
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930

If the full mark of the item doesn't contain any silvering mark, that means the object is made solely of base metal.
 

 
c.1909 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930

The similar mark was used on numerous WMF kitchen ware (in German Küchengeschirr) products, made of non-ferrous metals without any silvering. In this case the size of the arch is significantly larger than in the case of silver-plated items. It varies between 2.9 mm x 3.9 mm and 4.5 mm x 6.4 mm. Very common.
 

 
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1909 - c.1930

Full mark for non-ferrous metals includes some new secondary markings. The combination "M.PL. " probably means in German "Messing plaquiert" or plated brass. Another combination "N.PL. " means in German "Neusilber plaquiert" or plated Neusilber (nickel silver). In both cases the plated metal is nickel.  


8
 
c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.1910 - c.1925

Next ostrich mark bears the image of a running ostrich set inside the rhombus with a two-line inscription WMF/G, which in turn is placed inside a partly-dashed arch. The size of the arch varies between 1.2 mm x 1.8 mm and 2.3 mm x 3.5 mm. This mark is a widespread one. A rarer (and more recent) variety with the ostrich making a larger step exists.
 

 
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1920
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1920
WMF mark c.c.1910 - c.1925

The full mark uses numerous secondary markings, most of them (older ones) are applied in a rectangular frame. The fraction "I/O" means the normal thickness of silver deposited on the surface of the base metal. The size of the "I/O" box varies between 1.9 mm x 2.5 mm and 2.2 mm x 2.7 mm. The one-letter inscription "B" means the use of Britannia metal (tin-based alloy) as a base metal for silver deposition. The size of the "B" box varies between 1.5 mm x 1.7 mm and 2.3 mm x 2.7 mm. The two-letter inscription "BM" means a combined use of both Britannia metal (B) and brass (M) as base metals. The size of the "BM" box is about 1.6 mm x 4.2 mm. The one-letter inscription "N" means the use of nickel silver (Neusilber or Alpacca in German) as a base metal for silvering. The size of the "N" box is 1.8 mm x 2.0 mm. The one-word inscription "ALPACCA" also refers to the use of nickel silver as a base metal. The length of the "ALPACCA" word is 5.6-5.8 mm. The size of the "ALPACCA" box is 1.2 mm x 6.3 mm. The one-letter inscription "K" means the use of copper (Kupfer in German) as a base metal for silvering. The size of the "K" box is 1.5 mm x 1.7 mm. The absence of any base metal designation means the use of brass as a base metal. The "M" designation alone was never used at this period. The two-letter inscription "OX" ("oxydiert" in German, "oxidized" in English) means artificial darkening of the silver surface to a grey colour. The size of the "OX" box varies between 1.7 mm x 2.0 mm and 2.1 mm x 2.5 mm. The one-letter inscription "g" means "vergoldet" in German or "gilt" in English. The meaning of the one-letter inscription "f" is yet unclear. The six-petal rosette means "Special Order" or "Special Issue". The size of the box with six-petal rosette is 2.3 mm x 2.4 mm.  

  WMF mark c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.1910 - c.1925
WMF mark c.1910 - c.1925

If the full mark of the item doesn't contain any silvering mark, then such an object is made solely of base metal.
 

9
 
c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930

The next WMF mark contains a 2D combination of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", put in a rectangle. The size of the rectangle varies between 2.0 mm x 2.2 mm and 2.5 mm x 2.6 mm. Rather rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930

The full mark uses few secondary markings, most of them (older ones) are applied in a rectangular or oval cartouche. Contrary to previous hollow ware marks, used between 1903 and 1920, the amount of silver (in grams), deposited on the surface of the base metal, is given in a rectangular box. The one-letter inscription "N" means the use of nickel silver (Neusilber or Alpacca in German) as a base metal for silvering. The size of the "N" box is 1.9 mm x 2.3 mm. The one-word inscription "ALPACCA" also refers to the use of nickel silver as a base metal. The length of the "ALPACCA" word is about 5.8 mm. The size of the "ALPACCA" box is 1.2 mm x 6.3 mm. Sometimes, the year of issue is given in an oval cartouche.
 

10
 
c.1920 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930 WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930 WMF mark c.1920 - c.1930

If the full mark discussed above uses the "NS" (nickel silver) designation for a base metal [instead of the "N" (Neusilber) symbol], then this mark is the export one and the item with such a mark was produced for sale in the UK or the US. The size of the rectangular frame for the "NS"" designation is about 1.4 mm x 2.8 mm. After 1925 the "NS " designation is made with a "sans serif " font. At the same time the export ware is often accompanied by a shortened factory name.  

11
 
c.1925 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1925 - c.1930
WMF mark c.1925 - c.1930

The Art Deco WMF mark, containing the image of the running ostrich in a rhombus, exists in two versions, which differ in the outlook of the ostrich tail and in size. In the first version with the round tail, the size of the rhombus is about 4.7 mm x 5.6 mm, while in the second one, with the ostrich tail turned up, the rhombus is larger, i.e., 7.3 mm x 9.0 mm. No secondary markings were found for this mark.
 

12
 
c.1930 - c.1935
WMF mark c.1930 - c.1935

The next WMF mark contains the same 2D combination of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", put in a partly-dashed arch. The size of the arch varies between 2.3 mm x 3.9 mm and 2.2 mm x 4.0 mm. No silvering designations were used together with this mark. Rather rare.
 

 
WMF mark c.1925 - c.1935

The full mark image contains the volume designation in a cartouche.
 

13
 
c.1935 - c.1945
WMF mark c.1935 - c.1945

The next WMF mark contains the famous 2D combination of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", placed in an empty arch. The size of the arch varies between 1.7 mm x 2.5 mm and 2.2 mm x 3.3 mm. No secondary markings were mentioned for this mark. Rather rare.
 



further WMF marks and information:

Cutlery and Napkin Rings Marks

WMF History




Dr. David N. Nikogosyan
- 2013 -
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