Dear Helaine and Joe: I inherited a set of six dessert plates from my mother. They are 8 inches in diameter and are in perfect condition. They are white and decorated with village scenes with pink and blue flowers on the border. On the back is “Obernai Faienceries Sarreguemines, France.” I would like to know more information about my plates.
— Thank you, M. B.
Dear M. B.:
When we first read this question, we thought “Obernai” might be a faience factory located in Sarreguemines, France, we did not know existed. (“Faience,” incidentally, is earthenware with a glaze that uses tin as a whitening agent.)
A quick bit of research, however, revealed that “Obernai” was a pattern name used by a company located in Sarreguemines, France, named Utzschneider & Cie. Obernai is one of the company’s more famous patterns and is decorated with illustrations created by artist Henri Loux (1873-1907).
Loux was an illustrator of countryside scenes. He is said to have illustrated a tourist guidebook as well as created posters, greeting and Christmas cards, and some drawings for a chocolate factory. Loux is said to have made more than 50 paintings representing Alsatian countryside scenes from the late 19th century to create this pattern for the Sarreguemines factory.
The pattern went into production in 1904 and was made until 1940, when World War II intervened. It was produced again from 1945 to 1967. It might have been produced since, but is now listed as discontinued. The pattern is hugely popular in Alsace, where it is called the “S’Loux service.” We believe the plates are from the 1904 to 1940 production run.
Utzschneider & Cie was founded in 1790, but crockery production stopped in 1979 and the company went out of business in 2007. The company’s Obernai pattern, however, is still sought after and is currently available through sites that offer china replacement services and on websites like eBay.
A complete set of Utzschneider & Cie Obernai pattern dinnerware can certainly be put together today and would include such things as dinner plates in 10-1/2, 10 or 9-7/8 inches, luncheon plates, salad plates, dessert plates, soup bowls, cream pitchers, sugar bowls, vegetable bowls, sandwich trays, egg cups, tureens, goblets, relish dishes and on and on.
The value of M. B.’s plates depends very much on their actual size. The salad plate is 8-1/4 inches in diameter, while the dessert plate is 7-5/8 inches in diameter. If M. B.’s plates turn out to be salad plates, the retail value of the group is in the $60 to $70 range. But if the pieces are actual dessert plates, the value of the four drops to around $40.