Are you familiar with porcelain bearing the "crossed swords"? It’s famous as Meissen porcelain, and we have some beautiful 18th century pieces on display here.
Porcelain manufacturing had been pioneered in Asia long before the Europeans discovered the art. Vast quantities of porcelain were imported, mainly by the European aristocracy. Owning it was considered a sign of wealth and exquisite taste.
But finding the money to pay for these luxury goods was a big problem. The sought-after porcelain could only be traded for gold or silver. The Sun King, Louis the Fourteenth of France, even had his silver plate melted down for the purpose. Elector Augustus the Strong of Saxony, on the other hand, went about the matter in a different way. He commissioned the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger to develop a formula for the production of gold. Under great pressure, and with little choice in the matter, Böttger tried. He failed in his attempts to make gold; but in cooperation with Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, he did find a way to make the first European porcelain. August the Strong founded the "Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory" in 1710. For over 150 years, porcelain was manufactured at Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen.
Incidentally, before the invention of Meissen porcelain, that same Johann Friedrich Böttger was making ruby glass in Dresden.
In the 18th century, porcelain was the new luxury item. There was great demand for this "white gold", because consumption of coffee, tea and chocolate had been increasing since the 17th century. China plates and cups became everyday tableware. Soon, every castle and palace had a porcelain cabinet as a matter of course. Braunfels Castle still has its famous Meissen Monkey Chapel in the Gobelin Room, which you’ll be able to see during a guided tour of the castle.
All depictions: © Schloss Braunfels
Now, please continue with your tour, and look out for the seal press from the Princely Chamberlain’s Office.