Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai

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Post by Artsy on February 16th 2020, 10:26 pm

Hello!  I hope you can help me solve this mystery!

I got this bas relief clay tile (I think it's called slipware w/matte glaze) back in the mid 1990s from the owner of a shop in the now defunct old Antiques Mall on Richard's Street, in downtown Vancouver, Canada, and I don't know who made it.  She (shop owner) didn't know much about it, beyond its assumed age and likely origins: late mid-century British 1960 and use; it's a decorative tile or trivet, meant for a fireplace mantle/surround or kitchen wall, that sort of thing.  It's approx 6" x 6" x 1/2" (16.5 cm x 2 cm) and features a mounted Templar Knight with a raised sword and a stylized *Jerusalem* moline-shaped cross on his shield, encircled by a rope twist molded band; *those two little circles* flanking the left side of the cross represent smaller ones.  You can see something like it on a knight's shield in the 12th century Fresco inside the "Templar chapel of Cressac", Charentes France.

(I mention it in case it helps narrow things down, as they strike me as specific design choices.)

As for marks, there's an impressed backstamp - but it's so unevenly pressed into the clay, it hasn't been of much help.  I do know the letters (font) are akin to Times Roman (a serif font, all capitals) and the first two read as "C A...."  followed by either a "B" or "D" - with last letter likely an "N."  It's the ones in-between which are driving me crazy as you can't easily see what they are. I don't even know for sure if it's an English word or name!

Above the letters, there's (best guess) an equilateral Gothic arch with 6 small circles either side of it, culminating to form a pinnacle.  Note: I'm an artist; I can free-associate everything from a traditional kiln shape, to a crown - while the 6 circles brings to mind marble statues perched above a byzantine arch on the facade of a Cathedral or church. (Having a good imagination actually makes it harder to solve this!)  And below THAT shape, sit these two curious "trapezoids" impressions - specifically Rhombus shaped. There's more, but it's so faint you can barely see it.  Best guess?  They bookend a blind arcade (arches.)  In terms of the tile's texture and color, it reminds me a bit of Roman redware.

If it's English circa 1960s, who could have made it?  Was it a tourist item, made in a press mold?  A bit of local Arts & Crafts?  I've tried solving it over the years; my most recent efforts ultimately bringing me here in the wake of hitting a brick wall.  If someone was making these tiles, there's no record of them online that I've been able to find.  The closest you can get to a tile featuring a "Templar Knight" are the encaustic floor tiles made by Minton & Co. (circa 1845-1860) as part of a commission involving the restoration of the Temple Church in the City of London.  And it's definitely not Minton.  Note: I've taken several pics of the backstamp from slightly different angles & light sources in a bid to catch as much of it as I can, given its an impressed mark.

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Templa10
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Post by dantheman on February 16th 2020, 11:11 pm

Cabiren and the armour etc would make sense (possibly)

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Post by Artsy on February 17th 2020, 1:45 am

OMG!!!! I just solved it. Holy crap! I can't believe it. You gave me an idea; I tried misspelling the word, hoping yet again to stumble upon a variation (previous attempts were fruitless) and I eventually arrived at "CADINEN" - and it's German! Prussian, to be exact. The Cadinen / Kadyny, Maiolica factory.

I had to translate some German, but here's a summary of what I've now discovered:

In 1904, Kaiser Wilhelm II set up a pottery in the gardens of the Royal Summer Palace; his private estate near the East Prussian town of Cadinen (now the Polish town of Kadyny). They made copies of classical and Renaissance pottery but also produced original works. The pottery closed in 1944 owing to advance of the Russian Red Army and the loss of the German speaking population.

And sure enough, once I Googled Cadinen (which led to Cadiner Majolika) there it was - the same backstamp mark! Meaning it's older than I thought, and was actually made between 1904 - 1944. How on earth it managed to find its way to Vancouver, Canada, is another story and one I'll likely never solve. But I'm happy enough to have solved this mystery, as now I can finally stop obsessing about "who" made my tile?! Happy
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Post by dantheman on February 17th 2020, 9:48 am

'How on earth it managed to find its way to Vancouver, Canada, is another story and one I'll likely never solve.'

a dyslexic postman?

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Post by Artsy on February 17th 2020, 11:51 pm

"a dyslexic postman?"

Either that, or there's a far more interesting tale to tell regarding immigrants and what they might have brought with them, and why. The tile was attached to another surface via grout, so it was either manually removed or dislodged in the wake of a bombing raid (WW2.)

That aside, now that I know exactly where it was produced, he's obviously a Teutonic Knight. And given the order's history and religious connection, likely why CADINEN chose to put one on a tile.  Note: their backstamp features a church.

Ie: birds of a feather, etc.

Note: It was difficult to photograph any signs of glazing as it's virtually gone (I assumed my tile had a matte or flat finish) but upon closer inspection (under direct sunlight) I noticed for the first time today, a tiny area on the horse's chest where it seemed more polished.  It led me to search again but specifically for pieces made by Cadinen, whereupon I saw a bust of Kaiser Wilhelm II at this auction house:

Art. Nr.: 726  Ludwig Manzel Büste Kaiser Wilhelms II. Ludwig Manzel für die Kaiserliche Majolikamanufaktur Cadinen - BeyArs. Google Image that if you're curious; I can't post links yet.

But perhaps that's how my tile looked back in the day?  Ie: it was never a glossy surface, but neither was it "flat" like a terracotta pot.  I also noticed they dated it post 1910.  Hmmm... doesn't really narrow it down.  I'll need to find later examples of the Cadinen stamp mark.  As ideally, I like it to have been made prior to 1933.
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Post by philpot on February 19th 2020, 8:50 pm

https://www.lempertz.com/en/catalogues/lot/1105-1/316-a-cadinen-maiolica-medallion-with-a-portrait-of-emperor-william-ii.html This one? I wonder if it was a set of tiles? The tile itself does not look quite grand enough to be anywhere on its own.
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Post by philpot on February 19th 2020, 9:09 pm

Perhaps the church idea is wrong? Malbork Castle was one of the biggest and important castles of the Teutonic knights. It was very extensively restored for decades from the 1880's onwards, and became a tourist attraction. Perhaps this has some involvement there?
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Post by Artsy on February 20th 2020, 5:37 am

Yeah, that's the one I meant re: the medallion of the Kaiser!  That's what made me hope my tile was made around the same time; as the impressed mark looks like the one I've got.

And I think you're right re: a possible connection to Malbork Castle.  I've since learned it's where you'll find "The Blessed Virgin Mary Church" - and the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, are known as Teutonic Knights. It would explain why there's a stylized Jerusalem cross on my knight's shield.  I was headed in the right direction though, when looking around for a church.

As for a connection with the Kaiser's ceramic factory in Cadinen (Kadyny)- it's leading me to speculate two possibilities, based the following via Wikipedia:

In 1794, a Prussian architect named David Gilly did a structural survey of the castle (to determine what to do with it) and Gilly's son, Friedrich, produced several engravings of its architecture - which he then exhibited in Berlin and had published between 1799 - 1803. Those engravings led the Prussian public to "rediscover" the castle and the history of the Teutonic Knights.  After the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1814, the castle became a symbol of Prussian history and national consciousness.  And by 1816, restoration of the castle had begun.  With the rise of Hitler to power in the early 1930s, the Nazis used the castle as a destination for annual pilgrimages of both the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls. The Teutonic Castle at Marienburg served as a blueprint for the Order Castles of the Third Reich built under Hitler's reign. Then in 1945 during World War II combat in the area, more than half the castle was destroyed.

Why would CADINEN produce a tile specifically featuring a Teutonic Knight with a Jersuleum cross on his shield, when their gear features a plain black cross on a white background?  

1. Because the tiles would help finance the restoration work at the castle?  Ie: marketing tie-in?
2. Because it was made for Nazis who grew-up loving all-things Teutonic + Christian?

I never paid much attention to the back of my tile, beyond trying to decode the impressed stamp, but I've since spent more time pouring over its surface and I've discovered or realized it's actually covered in dozens of odd marks!  Like it had been set down on something while the clay was still soft. There's also finger prints and some writing near the edge.  I'm wondering now what that weird water stain is... assuming it was caused by water....

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Cadine11

I need to figure out what the writing says, as it looks like someone signed their name; tile maker, artist.

I just hope it doesn't say "a gift from your Führer."
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Post by Artsy on February 24th 2020, 1:55 am

Well, after much searching and in more than one language (German and Polish) I finally found dated documentation of my tile after stumbling upon an academic research catalogue titled "KADYŃSKA CERAMICS IN COLLECTIONS" by Dr. Barbara Pospieszna; an Art historian curator working with the Museum of Archeology and History in Elblag, Poland.  It was published in book form by Foto Liner in 2012. And a PDF of it is available on Academia.edu - a networking website for academics. You don't need credentials to access the site, but you do have to sign-in (I got in using my gmail.)

PDF file: CERAMIKA_02  Note: It's in Polish.  I used Google translate to help me read it.

Brief summary: The catalogue explores the largest collection of Kadyń (Cadinen) ceramics in the world, as collected by leading Elbląg collector Edward Parzych. Presented by author Barbara Pospieszna, an authority in the field of artistic ceramics, each item is shown in color photographs, accompanied by a description. Divided into two parts, the catalogue begins with a lengthy introduction in Polish & German devoted to the history of Kadyń ceramics along with the technical aspects of their production, followed by the main catalog which is arranged chronologically according to the artists' names and works. Examples of false "cadins" are also included at the end of the catalog in the wake of copies appearing on the market.

There's 288 pages - you'll see my tile listed on page 96 under NEO-GOTHIC.

Tile with a representation of a crusader on a horse, 1918-
Terracotta, mold cast, glazed in places
Height 14.2 cm, width 14.2 cm, thickness 1.6 cm


Reference was made to a transom (diagonal bar) on the knight's left shoulder in connection with a St. John cross.  As well as the existence of handwritten italics engraved on the reverse side of the tile with a 'durchgepasst' (through and below) a capital letter "M".  Also, they note the impressed back-stamp on that tile was really faint/hard to see. (Seems I'm not alone in that.)

One surprise was learning my tile was terracotta!  Reason: I've always associated terracotta with flower pots and when you break one of those, it's a solid color all the way through (whereas these tiles aren't like that.) The catalogue also confirmed my tile had indeed been glazed back in the day, was cast in a mold, and something had been engraved on the back of it.  I didn't know about the "M" though - I'm currently trying to find it.

As for the year it was made, c. 1918...

Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia.  He abdicated at the end of 1918, shortly before Germany's defeat in World War I.  He entrusted the artist/ceramics painter Wilhelm Dietrich to manage the brickworks and workshops.  And from 1918-1926, by which time Dietrich was now the director (guy in charge), in order to save the business from bankruptcy (the Kaiser's ceramics were deemed old fashioned and anachronistic at this point) they switched to making stove tiles and reproducing copies of Gdańsk and Elbląg ovens from the 18th century; they were in great demand after the war and the stove tiles sold well.  Note: This is also when they dropped "Royal" from the name and it became known the "Majolica Workshops."

So it was a stove tile made around 1918, give or take. Like the tiles seen on masonry heaters.  Maybe it was even inspired by tiles like this one: Stove tile depicting a knight on horse, glazed green., c. 1400-1450

Here's where things get tricky...

The history of their marking system was convoluted, to say the least. The best you can do when it comes to identifying the artist behind small, mass produced pieces like this, is to look at how it was done (each artist had his own style.) One of the artists working at the Kadynian workshop (Cadinen) was Karl Ludwig Manzel - a German sculptor, painter and graphic artist. And he designed this terracotta plaque, the style of which is similar to how my terracotta tile was rendered; broadly, no fine detail: Wielka plakieta Cadinen Kadyny - Ludwig Manzell

Was the letter "M" a mark they put on his designs when they were mass produced in molds..?  I don't think I'll ever know; a lot of paperwork was lost/destroyed in the wake of WW2.  So there's still a question mark hanging over it in terms of who designed it, but at least my Crusader tile was made before 1933.

NOTE: If you have a piece of Cadinen ceramic, it's worth Google translating the .pdf (copy and paste) as it's extremely informative. There's several examples of CADINEN marks, as well.
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Post by dantheman on February 24th 2020, 9:27 am

Clap very thorough research

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Post by Artsy on February 25th 2020, 2:39 am

dantheman wrote:Clap  very thorough research  

Thanks!  It took some effort, that's why I wanted to share what I'd learned; not everyone has time to play detective, let alone in another language.  And there was actually more info re: Cadinen/Kadyny available on non-English websites; a lesson for others to observe. Ie: If your item wasn't made in an English speaking country, don't limit yourself to searching only in English.

Now I've got to decide what I want to do with it - as I didn't know until recently that he was a Teutonic knight.

It's kinda like owning a tile with a Medieval version of Darth Vader on it. LOL
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Post by philpot on February 25th 2020, 3:12 pm

Congratulations! A terrific piece of research, and a brilliant illustration as to what results determination can get you.
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Post by Artsy on February 25th 2020, 10:29 pm

philpot wrote:Congratulations!  A terrific piece of research, and a brilliant illustration as to what results determination can get you.

Thank-you!  I definitely had a bee in my bonnet.  Ie: "I will learn who made you, Mr. Tile, even if I have to show you to everyone on the internet!"

Fortunately, it didn't take that long. :-)  And I learned a lot in the process - my understanding of the region (Eastern Europe and its history) has been much improved. I gained a wealth of additional context, too.  Ex: In 1902, the Kaiser made a trip to the Marienburg (aka: Malborg Castle in Poland) to participate in the consecration of Virgin Mary’s Church in the Castle (after it had been restored) and there were various special events: one featuring Prussian soldiers of the 152nd Regiment from Marienburg wearing the medieval armor of Teutonic Knights.

So I know not only who made it, but also likely "why" (despite being anachronistic at the time.)  It was probably already in the works, when the Kaiser abdicated that same year: 1918.

That said, there's still the mystery of those curious additional marks on the back, beyond the official stamp.  It's 100 years old at this point, and its literally been through the wars - God only know what this tile has been silent witness to.  That's the real story!
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Post by paveybe on February 25th 2020, 10:52 pm

So... how did it end up in Vancouver? Thanks for this epic story!
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Post by Artsy on February 26th 2020, 4:00 am

paveybe wrote:So... how did it end up in Vancouver?  Thanks for this epic story!

You're welcome - and exactly!  That's the BIG mystery: what were the circumstances behind its departure and subsequent arrival in Vancouver, Canada?  As it's a rather patriotic thing to have.  It speaks to German Imperialism at the time, but also the rise of Nationalism (which leads to even darker corners.) To put it into better context, imagine it's the 1960 and your neighbor buys a small figurine featuring John Wayne on a horse.  And given its weight (it's like a small brick) you'd really have to like this thing to justify hauling it around in your suitcase. CADINEN did export some of their works, but it was the sort of stuff people would buy as gifts in shops.

To get even close to solving it, I've been reading-up on German immigration to B.C., post WW1 and 2...

"Like the rest of the province, Greater Vancouver has had historic immigration from Germany. Many from southwest Germany arrived in the newly settled Vancouver. Some were in the middle class, and some worked as shopkeepers and craftspersons. A wave of post-World War II immigration also came from Germany. There were about 8,000 ethnic Germans born outside Canada who resided in Vancouver in 1960. The Fraser Street area was a point of settlement for the German community, and it was called "Little Germany" from the 1940s through the 1960s. An area of Vancouver along Robson Street received the name "Robsonstrasse" after World War II because it had a number of German restaurants, including delicatessens and pastry shops, established by new German immigrants. There was additional German settlement in the West End." - German-Canadian history in British Columbia.

"It is estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 war criminals fled to Canada after the Second World War, but not one Nazi has ever been successfully prosecuted in this country." -  National Post

Hmmm.

I got my tile c. 1997 from a middle-aged woman who ran an antique's shop in downtown Vancouver; assuming she's still alive, she'd be in her late 80s now.  Her background was English and her husband came from the UK.  She lived in the West End, in British Properties - a patch of high-end residential land developed by the Guinness-beer making family.  And it was known for its strict whites-only policy.  Note: That's since changed, but it was still being observed back in the 90's (rich white enclave.)

Anyhoo, in the course of doing business, looking for items to re-sell (old school social networking, chatting up the neighbours) she got to know a wide variety of people.  I recall her telling me that she got it from a woman she knows, but didn't recognize the mark, speculated it was likely British c. 1960's and not worth much, if anything, so would I like to have it..?  (Note: I'm an artist and I was doing some freelance work for her.)  I thought it looked cool and said "yes."  Whereupon after a failed attempt to figure out who'd made it, it sat on a shelf for the next 23 years collecting dust until one day, I decided to try my luck again - and et voila!

So; was it brought over by a German immigrant or even a former Nazi?  Something to remind them of home?  Or what was left of one?  Would a soldier collect something like that as war booty?  It could have crossed the U.S. border (Washington State is less than 1 hr away.)  Was it picked-up post-WW1 or WW2 (architectural salvage) by a tourist (nationality unknown) who brought it to Canada? Note: While visiting Paris in 1997, I myself brought back a few heavy plaster replicas of the Gargoyles seen a top Notre Dame Cathedral (so it is possible it was a tourist related find, back in the day.)

You don't have to be a Nazi to like heraldic tiles, but it's a curious thing to have brought over.  And it was just the one tile.

And then there's all those mysterious markings on the back of it.  Hmmm... Google search "trace evidence: dried blood..."  Ah hah!  The Kastle-Meyer Test  I need to get some supplies.  :-)
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Post by paveybe on February 26th 2020, 10:16 am

Thank you for your impeccable research and story-telling, also your commendable sense of curatorship -23 years this nagged at you and you finally resolved it - a great example to us all! I am glad you did not throw it away. That one little tile might have represented a whole, huge, deeply meaningful history for someone -or been just a souvenir, as you say. Bravo.
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Post by Artsy on February 27th 2020, 4:11 am

paveybe wrote:Thank you for your impeccable research and story-telling, also your commendable sense of curatorship -23 years this nagged at you and you finally resolved it - a great example to us all! I am glad you did not throw it away. That one little tile might have represented a whole, huge, deeply meaningful history for someone -or been just a souvenir, as you say.  Bravo.

Thank-you!  That's very kind of you.  Some of the credit goes to "The Curse of Oak Island" (History Channel) - as it's hard not to be inspired by their perseverance. :-)

Meanwhile, another thought occurred to me: what if it came from East Berlin..?  "In 1989, a series of revolutions in nearby Eastern Bloc countries—in Poland and Hungary in particular—caused a chain reaction in East Germany that ultimately resulted in the demise of the Wall." - The Berlin Wall

What if a someone went to Berlin and brought it back?  And upon their return, it eventually wound-up in the hands of a Vancouver Antique's dealer, who ultimately gave it to me?  Ie: having taken note of the interest shown in the Wall (which amounts to prizing bits of old cement) maybe someone began selling bits of post-war bric-a-brac to newly arrived tourists, hoping to cash in...?  As compared to the Eastern Europe, the West (especially North America) was far better off economically.  And it would fit the general time frame: 1990-97.

I write all of this well aware of Occam's Razor (a line of reasoning amounting to: the simplest answer is often correct.)  I'm also familiar with this quote: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Holmes.  And the simple answer is that someone brought it back from Germany after the Berlin Wall came down.

But that doesn't explain how it managed to survive WW2.  Or how it got some of these curious marks...  I see "wings" which bring to mind military insignias.  I also see dark scorch or burn marks, which isn't that surprising , it was a stove tile, but the pattern is odd, almost like there was a blast followed by a fire followed by water to put it out...

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Cadine15

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Cadine16

There's no simple answer I can see there.  I also don't know how this type of terracotta reacts over time to heat, humidity, microbes.  What's normal, what's not?  In the PDF Cadinen Catalogue I found, they don't show the back of that Crusader tile, so I don't know if it had similar markings.  I was going to run some tests for blood, but then decided against it; I'd rather not know.  Instead, I think I'll get in touch with that Polish Academic and show her my tile.  How rare are these tiles?  Where did "he" gets his, the one in the polish catalogue?  Wouldn't it be ironic if it turns out they were both from the same stove - but you wouldn't be able to tell unless you could see them together, side by side?  :-)
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Post by Artsy on February 29th 2020, 7:17 am

Update: I was wrong - it's a FLOOR TILE!

I contacted Dr Barbara Pospieszna, the Curator of the Castle Museum in Malbork, Poland (she wrote the catalogue titled "KADYŃSKA CERAMICS IN COLLECTIONS") and I got her reply today.  Note: She wrote back in French for assuming I was a bi-lingual Canadian. Nope.  Thus more translating ensued.  LOL

She explained that Kaiser Wilhelm II (Emperor of Germany, King of Prussia) was Queen Victoria's grandson, and ceramics from Cadinen (Prussia) such as my Crusader tile, were sent as gifts to England. It was a decorative item, like a wall plate.

So, there you go!  Unless it was stolen, someone important enough to receive it as a gift back in the day, brought it to Canada and after they died, their kids got it, whereupon it was (speculation) used in a fireplace surround until it fell out of favor (too old fashioned) and the tile was removed (and forgotten) until someone picked it up in an estate sale (perhaps) and how it eventually wound-up in the hands of an antique dealer - who gave it to me.

All of which is typical, conventional and far less exciting than anything I'd imagined. :-)

There's still the mystery of who designed it.  But all she could share on that account was that the tile she saw, was signed (had the Cadinen backstamp) and the word "durchgepresst" (German; press-mold) was engraved next to a lowercase "m".

(The catalogue's text was in Polish and Google translate has its limits.)


Last edited by Artsy on February 29th 2020, 6:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by dantheman on February 29th 2020, 9:56 am

shows how the internet has transformed our ability to do research

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on February 29th 2020, 12:48 pm

I think this thread show why we are all enthralled with ceramics. It's often not just a matter of buying a piece and sticking it in a cabinet and looking at it.

It also shows the need for this forum both to assist with opinion and experience and to record research and knowledge.

Knowledge is king in this business and sharing knowledge is princely (not Andrew of course) for those that come in the future.

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Post by Artsy on March 1st 2020, 1:45 am

dantheman wrote:shows how the internet has transformed our ability to do research

While underscoring the need to learn more than one language. :-)

Note: In my own defense, I do know a smattering of French, Italian and even German - the latter the result of watching early B/W German movies featuring Anton Walbrook and Conrad Veidt.  None of which comes in handy when reading Polish, though and why Google-translate is an invaluable tool for sleuthing on the Internet.

22 Crawford St. wrote:I think this thread show why we are all enthralled with ceramics. It's often not just a matter of buying a piece and sticking it in a cabinet and looking at it. It also shows the need for this forum both to assist with opinion and experience and to record research and knowledge. Knowledge is king in this business and sharing knowledge is princely (not Andrew of course) for those that come in the future.

I've got a piece of the Berlin Wall.  A classmate went to visit relatives after it starting coming down and brought back a chunk. On the surface, it's just a bit of grey concrete.  But underneath, it's a moment of history suspended in time and whenever I look at it, it reminds me of the power of dissent and refusing to give up.  Never say die.  I found myself staring at it on more than one occasion, while trying to locate information re: my "floor tile."  :-)

The same resolve now underscores my efforts to deduce which artist working for Cadinen in the 1900s, was most likely to have designed it!  It's of little consequence but that's no reason not to play Sherlock. And I shared a bit of speculation with Dr Barbara Pospieszna while trading emails.  Ie: I told her I thought I could see the shape of "wings."  Leading me to wonder now if maybe German sculptor Heinrich Splieth could have designed it?  For he did a variety of pieces for the kaiser's ceramic workshop, including this terracotta plate "Wandkachel"  - and it's got small angels with wings!  Maybe that's a clue?  Perhaps the tile was set down on something while it was still a bit soft, and the weight of the terracotta pressed the texture of whatever was underneath it, onto the back - and it was laying on the mold for Splieth's Wandkache?

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Heinri11

"Ce projet Heinrich Splieth est-il inconnu?" she wondered in response.  English: "Is this an unknown Heinrich Splieth project?"

Which led to sharing the following speculative supposition aka: informed guess... (LOL)

In 1902, the Kaiser went to celebrate the consecration of the Virgin Mary’s Church in Marienburg Castle (aka: Malbork, a former Teutonic stronghold much beloved by Prussian Imperialists.) His visit also coincided with the end of renovation work on the castle (a big cultural deal at the time; lots of guests, dignitaries, etc.)  There's some old B/W photos showing him dressed in Teutonic robes, in addition to soldiers/security stationed there wearing bits of period armor.

Take a look at this Teutonic knight on horseback (relief work) above the entrance to the high castle at Malbork:

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Malbor10

And here's a shot inside the castle showing the floor heating system; some of the tiles are in bas-relief!

So that might be where the idea for the Cadinen Crusader floor tile originated; what inspired it.  Splieth created the first art objects for the Kaider's workshop in Cadinen, for which he worked for many years. And while he frequently explored religious themes in his own work; Virgin Mary, Christ's sufferings etc, he also knew which side of the bread is buttered (where his interests lay) and that meant appeasing the Kaiser's tastes (by way of compromise) as he sometimes helped Splieth via commissions.

And I think I can see an uppercase letter "H" along with some other letters, inscribed on the back of my Crusader tile...

 Templar Knight bas-relief clay tile backstamp! - The Cadinen / Kadyny, Mai Cadine17

If these were gifts made for the Kaiser to hand out to various V.I.P's, as opposed to something Splieth would have made (as it's arguably glorified self-promotion & imperial propaganda) that might account for why it was discreetly signed on the back (it was just a job, he did it for the money, but he changed the knight's shield so it was less militaristic.)  I've yet to hear back in response, so we'll see what she thinks.  Assuming she's got time (given she's the curator of the castle's museum.)

NOTE: Heinrich Splieth life's work was recognized with the opening of a "Splieth Museum" in his hometown of Elblag shortly after his death in 1929. The project was overseen by his wife, Berta Splieth, who made all the exhibits available to the museum. Tragically, save for a few illustrations, the museum and its inventory were completely destroyed in 1945; consequently Splieth's work is mostly a memory now. Some smaller works are privately owned, however.

That aside, I recently learned that the brick factory at Cadinen was modernized in 1899 and the Kaiser had a washing plant built, along with dryers and two ring ovens/kilns.  And on the back of my tile, you can see a series of long, curved lines. I was at a loss as to explain what could have made them, but I now I know - it was the curved racks inside the kiln!
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