Flora Danica is a series of highly detailed botanical themed porcelain dishware produced by Royal Copenhagen Denmark. First commissioned in 1790 by the King of Denmark himself, this line of dishware has an extensive history of unmatched quality and prestige. Read on to learn more about the history, production, and value of Flora Danica Dishware.
- The Flora Danica Story
- How Flora Danica China is Produced
- Famous Flora Danica Dinnerware Pieces
- How to Sell Flora Danica China
What is Flora Danica?
Flora Danica is a limited series of dinnerware pieces produced by Royal Copenhagen. The designs on the porcelain pieces were meticulously copied from the Flora Danica, a famous botanical book, illustrated with highly accurate copper plate prints of Danish flora. First started by botanist Georg Christian Oeder in 1752, the collection continued to grow for the next 122 years until it contained an astonishing 3,240 floral motifs organized into 51 booklets.
The first series of Flora Danica porcelain was commissioned in 1790 by the King of Denmark and was originally intended as a gift for Empress Catherine II of Russia, who was a collector of fine porcelain. Although Catherine died in 1796, the project continued, and in 1802 the project was finished. After 12 years of work, 1,802 pieces of Flora Danica porcelain were created, mostly by the craftsman Johann Christoph Bayer.
Bayer was selected for this project in part because of his contributions to the Flora Danica print series. He took the accuracy of his work very seriously, and would often send his assistants to the botanical gardens to ask questions or collect samples if he needed additional information on a plant not offered by the copper prints he used as reference materials.
Of the 1,802 original Flora Danica porcelain pieces, 1,530 are still in existence. Part of the collection is still owned by the royal family of Denmark and brought out for certain special occasions. Additional Flora Danica originals can be viewed in the collections of Rosenborg castle, Christiansborg castle, and Amalienborg palace.
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What is unique about Flora Danica Dinnerware?
Today, each piece of Flora Danica is still hand made by skilled artisans who have access to the original Flora Danica source materials as they work. There are fewer than 20 craftspeople in the world qualified to produce Flora Danica, as the work requires in-depth knowledge of botany, illustration, and working with porcelain.
Because of their complexity, each piece is made to order with a floral motif that is both unique and accurate to the source material. Royal Copenhagen has a catalog of 40 porcelain forms and approximately 3000 floral motifs for the buyer to choose from.
How Flora Danica China is Produced
The production of Flora Danica dinnerware begins with hand carving details into the still wet porcelain after it emerges from the mold. Pieces like the fruit basket and ice bowl require the most intricate carving, but many of the plates and other items include carvings around the border. Next, small flower petals and leaves are sculpted and placed onto the lids and handles of many pieces. The porcelain is rubbed in olive oil to keep it flawlessly smooth.
After the sculpting is finished, the pieces are fired for the first time at 950 degrees, then glazed and fired again at 1,350 degrees. This second firing seals the piece and gives it the characteristic glossy white porcelain look.
The pieces are next passed on to the painters, who freehand sketch the illustrations onto the porcelain. The colors are then laid onto the porcelain one at a time, generally moving from the lightest to the darkest colors. The pieces are fired in between each color to ensure that no reactions occur between the colors. By the time they are finished, a single Flora Danica piece will have been fired between 8 and 16 times. Once the painting is finished, gold accents are applied and polished until they shine.
How Much Are Flora Danica Pieces Worth?
The price for a single piece of Flora Danica porcelain typically ranges from $1,000 to $43,000 depending on the size, pattern, and complexity of the item. Items such as bowls, plates, cups, and saucers typically cost between $1,000 and $6,000, while more complex items such as fruit baskets, gravy boats, ice domes, and other elaborate serving pieces typically cost between $9,000 and $40,000.
- Average Estimate for individual Dishes: $1,000-$6,000
- Average Estimate for Complex Serving Pieces: $9,000-$40,000
What Determines The Value of Flora Danica Dinnerware?
While Flora Danica is the most expensive dinnerware pattern on the market, some pieces are more valuable than others. Here are a few aspects that influence the value of a Flora Danica piece.
- Function: Serving pieces like sugar bowls, pitchers, or gravy boats are usually worth more than place setting pieces such as plates, bowls, and cups.
- Complexity: Pieces that contain more ornamentation, such as complex patterns, cutouts, or sculpted flowers are generally more valuable than less adorned pieces.
- Motif: Pieces with illustrations of classic dutch flowers tend to be the most popular and collectable. While pieces showing motifs like wild animals or countryside are less common, there is also a smaller market for them.
Revere Auctions provides the best value for your Florica Danica works through extensive consignment and acquisition services.
The Values of Flora Danica Pieces
Here is a small selection of used Flora Danica pieces currently available on the market and their approximate values.
Flora Danica, 10″ Salad Serving Bowl – Convolvulus sepium
A 10-inch diameter salad serving bowl with gilded details on the rim and a hand painted illustration in the center of convolvulus sepium, also known as hedge bindweed or wild morning glory.
- Estimate: $2,200-$2,500
Flora Danica, 18″ Oval Serving Platter – Cirsium Arvense Scop
Elegant 18-inch long oval serving platter with hand painted illustrations in the center of Cirsium Arvense Scop, also known as creeping thistle or field thistle.
- Estimate: $3,550
Flora Danica, Flat Demitasse Cup & Saucer – Antennaria Alpina
A matching cup and saucer set with detailed gilded rims and light green leaf designs modeled after Antennaria Alpina, also known as alpine pussyfoot.
- Estimate: $920
Flora Danica, Round Custard Cup, Saucer & Lid – Veronica Alpina
A beautiful matching set of custard cup, lid, and saucer with gilded rims and handles, and detailed paintings of Veronica Alpina, also known as Alpine Speedwell or Alpine Veronica. The handles of the custard cup and lid are adorned with hand sculpted and painted 3D flowers.
- Estimate: $1,400
How to Identify Flora Danica Signatures
The bottom of each Flora Danica piece will contain several pieces of information. This includes a Royal Copenhagen Denmark seal, which will have a bar above or below certain letters which corresponds to the year that the piece was produced. The piece will also likely include the 3 letter initials of the painters and gilders who worked on the piece, as well as the full name of the plant represented on the piece.
How Can I Sell My Flora Danica Dinnerware?
The Flora Danica pattern is one of the most valuable dinnerware lines in the world, and individual pieces can sell for thousands of dollars in the right conditions. Flora Danica pieces may be sold using online resale sites or through consignment services. However, the most reliable way to sell your Flora Danica Dinnerware is to contact a reputable auction house to get a valuation of the piece. The auction house can also discuss with you the best way to sell your Flora Danica pieces.
Revere Auctions Sells Your Flora Danica Dinnerware
Revere Auctions has expertise in selling Flora Danica Dishware at auction for competitive prices. Our experts at Revere Auctions are ready to help you with any stage of your art journey, whether you are looking for an estimate of value, a USPAP certified appraisal, art restoration, or an effortless way to sell your art. We advertise our sales on more auction platforms than any other auction house in America, and regularly achieve record prices for our objects. If you are interested in selling with us, please reach out for a free online appraisal of your piece today.