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Treasures: Chocolate pot has a rich history

Treasures in Your Attic: A chocolate pot has a long history extending back to the time of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I, according to Joe Rosson and Helaine Fendelman.

Its value may be in the hundreds.

Dear Helaine and Joe: I am sending a picture of an object I hope you can help me understand. We believe it came into our family in the 1960s. It is marked “MZ” with an emblem, the words “Australia” and “Hambsburg-China,” and some other things. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

M.H., Foster, Ky.

Dear M.H.: A famous company made this chocolate pot — but it was not located in Australia, nor did this piece have anything to do with the land down under.

Actually, the mark does not say “Australia.” It says “Austria.”And the initials “MZ” stand for Moritz Zdekauer, who ran a porcelain factory in Altrohlau, Austria (now Stara Role, Czech Republic). This factory has a long history that began in the 1810s when Benedikt Hasslacher started a faience and earthenware factory (faience is a type of opaque glazed earthenware).

After it went out of business in 1823, August Nowotny & Co. acquired the concern and continued to make faience and earthenware at first but later started making porcelain. Moritz Zdekauer purchased the company in 1884, and its porcelain pieces were marked “MZ Austria” until 1909, when C.M. Hutschenreuther of Hohenberg, Bavaria, Germany, took over the firm.

Hutschenreuther renamed it Altrohlau Porcelain Factory and marked its wares “MZ Altrohlau” between 1909 and 1945. After World War II, Czechoslovakia nationalized the company. What all this means: Manufactured sometime between 1884 and 1909, the chocolate pot in today’s question was more than 50 years old when it came into the possession of M.H.’s family.

Originally, this pot would have had matching cups and saucers, and the fact that they are missing diminishes the current monetary value somewhat. A complete set is almost always more valuable than its individual parts.

The last part of the mark mentioned in the letter — “Hambsburg-China” — actually reads “Habsburg China,” which refers to the ruling family of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in power at the time. At one point or another, members of this powerful family were kings of Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Spain, Portugal and England (1554-1558). The Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph I, who ruled from 1848 to 1916, held the Austro-Hungarian throne at the time this chocolate pot was made.

The pot is a beautiful piece, with lovely transfer decorated roses on a ground (background) that shades from dark to light. In the photograph, it looks to be green with reddish rose accents at the top to a pearl-white at the bottom.

One of the unhappy facts of collecting is that the price of most European porcelains of the late 19th century has declined significantly over the past few years. This piece is still quite lovely, but we feel that, at the moment, it has an insurance-replacement value in the $150-$175 range. Five to 10 years ago, the price would have been somewhat higher, in the vicinity of $225 to $275.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of “Price It Yourself” (HarperResource). E-mail them at



About the company from official web-site

The porcelain factory in Karlovy Vary – Stará Role has a long history. It was founded back in 1810.

Carrying an eagle with a royal crown and the initials MZ of its former owner as its mark, the company produces a broad range of porcelain products.

Today the company specialises in the production of porcelain tableware for household use, hotel and restaurant porcelain. The company offers further decorative porcelain for customers interested in exclusive porcelain designs.

As a part of the production programme, there is a series of special additional products. The company strategy has been to meet the most demanding requirements of its customers and has been engaged in the development and production of a range of goods suitable for heavy duty conditions in hotel, restaurant and spa facilities for many years. It is of course possible to use the porcelain ware in microwave ovens and dishwashers.

Each of these designs may be enriched with the customer's interesting collection of decorations, ranging from simple coloured patterns to very splendid decorations containing platinum and gold.

To ensure they keep their customers satisfied, the company regularly adds new products with a variety of decorations to the existing porcelain designs.

All of the porcelain forms created by the company are regularly represented each year at the international Fair Ambiente Frankfurt am Main trade fair.

The company philosophy has been to satisfy a wide range of customers and to contribute to creating an ideal home environment for all ages so that their everyday dining becomes a pleasant experience.


BOHEMIA PORCELÁN MORITZ ZDEKAUER 1810 s.r.o. Závodu míru 891, 360 17 Karlovy Vary IČ: 291 10 475 tel.: +420 353 412 111 +420 353 449 445 fax.: +420 353 412 453