Determining the date of manufacture of a Dresden lace figurine may satisfy the owner's curiosity. However, having an accurate documented date and maker has significant impact on the valuation of a piece in addition to its condition. Consulting several illustrated books and catalogues and comparing photos of markings with those found on a figurine are valuable steps in establishing the provenance of a figurine before formal appraisal.
Turn your Dresden lace figurine upside down and look for a maker's mark stamped into the bottom. This may be highlighted with blue ink.
Compare these marks carefully with photographs in the catalogues or books to arrive at an approximate date of manufacture. Porcelain markings began showing up in the latter part of the 18th century. At that time, Georg Heinrich Macheleid's factory had exclusive rights to porcelain production in the principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. In 1795, the company catalogue stated that 90 different figurines were available.
Consult authoritative illustrated texts and catalogues for comparing the mark on your figurine with those verified in the photos. Macheleid's factory lost its exclusive privileges to make the lace figurines in 1832, allowing other manufacturers to expand into this line. Proliferation of marks and dates began at this time.
Compare the marks carefully. Marks changed as consolidations took place in the industry. For example, the Volkstedt Porcelain works was merged into Porzellanfabrik Unterweissbach AG, established in 1882. This company continued to acquire a number of porcelain factories, replacing their markings with its own running fox emblem. Volkstedt merged with Porzellanfabrik Unterweissbach AG in 1909, and its distinctive mark disappeared shortly thereafter.
Consult a catalogue or book to compare any changes in the markings to narrow down a manufacturing date. A crown with the letters "MV" under it indicates it was made by the Mueller-Volksted works, a smaller factory in operation from about 1832 to 1945. This factory was destroyed in the Allied firebombing of Dresden during World War II. Rebuilt and using some of the original moulds, operations were moved eventually to Ireland where production continues.
Use several books and compare information. Gaining a sense of the series of mergers and consolidations in the Dresden porcelain industry in the late 19th and early 20 centuries is invaluable.