I bought a boxlot of Meissen Blue Onion at a local auction. Much of it had the "crossed swords" trademark on the back, but some had the word Meissen in an oval with a star underneath. I did some research that I'd like to share with the ebay community.
I found Harran's "Meissen Porcelain, Identifications and Value Guide" to be invaluable in clarifying the issue. According to Harran's, the blue onion pattern was first developed by Meissen in 1739 and is their best known pattern. It has been copied by more companies than any other pattern in history. (See also Meissen Porcelain on ebay -original or fake or the Meissen's Collector's Guide)
On page 117, Harran's says, "The manufacture of the Onion pattern in Bohemia began in 1885 in Dubi. The original factory was acquired by Carl Teichert from the town of Meissen and was called the Meissen Stove and Fireclay Factory. The company copied the Meissen pattern exactly, hand painting its copies. In 1882 it registered a trademark with the name 'Meissen' which has caused confusion to this day. The mark is 'Meissen' inside an oval with a star underneath."
So I sat and stared at a piece of crossed swords Meissen, side by side with a plate with the word Meissen in an oval with a star underneath. (Sidebar: I dated the first plate as 1888-1924 because it had the crossed swords in both the front and the back. According the Zwiebelmuster story (you can Google that), Meissen in an oval was used 1885-1934, so these are both vintage plates.) Here are the obvious differences:
- No crossed swords on the front of the "Meissen"-in-oval plate.
- The blue bleeds into the white of the porcelain on the "Meissen"-in-oval plate, i.e. the design is not crisp.
- The reticulation is different on the two plates. On the crossed swords plate, the holes seem be cut after the glazing. I'm no potter, but the holes have sharp corners and straight sides and you can see the knife marks. On the "Meissen"-in-oval plates, the holes are round and glazed all the way through.
- There aren't as many holes in the "Meissen"-in-oval plate. The innermost round of the holes is missing. Those holes are smaller and triangular on the crossed swords plate, i.e. they're probably harder to do.
So as good as the "Meissen"-in-oval plate looks by itself, the differences really are about quality. Here's a side-by-side picture. The crossed swords Meissen plate is on the left, the "Meissen"-in-oval plate is on the right. Somewhere I read, if it says Meissen, it isn't.