The History of Rosenthal Crystal

Recognized as one of the world's top crystal manufacturers, the Rosenthal company has a history of creating innovative crystal and table-top ware. Rosenthal, along with the Hutschenreuther company, make up the defining brands of the porcelain industry in Franconia, Germany, a section of Bavaria. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century, Rosenthal crystal and dinnerware is, as of 2010, now available in 97 countries.

Company Origins

The Rosenthal Company was founded by Philip Rosenthal Sr. in 1879 in Selb, Germany, part of Bavaria. He began business by purchasing white dinnerware from Hutschenreuther, another Germany dinnerware manufacturer. Each made porcelain and crystal from the wood fuel from the dense forests of the Fichtelgebirge mountains and china clay in the Upper Palatinate and Bohemia. This Selb home base became the heart of the "Porcelain Route," which lead to centers of the porcelain industry between Weiden and Hof, Germany.


Early Designs

Rosenthal's wife, the French Countess Maria de Beurges, hand-painted the ware and Rosenthal sold the painted china door to door. The popularity of the Maria White and Moss Rose patterns helped the business grow rapidly. In 1916, Philip Rosenthal dedicated this design to his wife, calling the line "MARIA" to commemorate his love for her and her artistry.

Original Factories

In 1891, Rosenthal established a factory in Asch, Bohemia and began creating white-ware, porcelain plates and table-top decor. From 1897 to 1936, Rosenthal acquired factories in Kronach, Marktredwitz, Waldenburg, Sophienthal, and Waldershof.

World War II Era

By the time of World War II, Rosenthal operated 10 companies and employed over 5,000 workers. Rosenthal's son, Phillip, returned to Germany and quickly rebuilt and updated factories that had run aground in the war. He brought in new business by reaching markets interested in modern dinnerware and crystal-ware, like decorated wine glasses and flutes.

Expansion to U.S. Market

In 1937, Rosenthal purchased the Waldershof factory—originally the Johann Haviland Company's factory--a major dinner and crystal ware company. Rosenthal began producing fine china to export to the United States market. Rosenthal continued to mark the dinnerware "Johann Haviland, Bavaria, Germany" to attribute the beauty of the wares to his name and company.

Rosenthal Studio-Line

Up until the 1960s, the Rosenthal company's focus was to create classic, traditional designs attractive to all buyers, marketed under Classic Rose brand. In 1961, Philip Rosenthal, Jr. launched the Rosenthal Studio-Line, a tabletop line that employed 100 famous artists and designers to give everyday home-decor products like wine glasses, vases, candle votives, plates and decanters a creative, stylish touch. As of 2010, the Rosenthal Company offers both the classic line and more innovative crystal ware in water goblets, white and red wine glasses, champagne flutes, and long drink glasses.

Noelle Carver

Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.