David N. Nikogosyan, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
(click on photos to enlarge image)
MARKS OF BERNDORF METALWARE FACTORY IN AUSTRIA:
ALPACCA AND ALPACCA-SILVER II PRODUCTS
In my previous article published in Silver Magazine (see
Bibliography), I made a detailed study of the marks used for
high-quality silver-plated hollowware (with triple-layer silver
coating of Alpacca alloy, so-called Alpacca Silber I) issued by
the Berndorf metalware factory. This paper is devoted to a brief
listing of marks issued on more low-quality items, namely, on
pieces made of pure Alpacca alloy, as well as of Alpacca base
covered by a double layer of silver (so-called Alpacca Silber
The Alpacca alloy was developed in 1823 by the German chemist
Dr. Ernst August Geitner (1783-1852). It was very similar in its
appearance to silver, but significantly cheaper. Therefore, this
new alloy was first called "Argentan". It consisted of 20%
nickel, 55% copper and 25% zinc. The new silver-imitating alloy
soon became very popular. The Gebrueder Henninger (Henninger
Bros.) proposed a similar alloy (5-30% nickel, 45-70% copper and
8-45% zinc with trace amounts of lead, tin and iron) which they
called "Neusilber". Later both Argentan and Neusilber were used
under the trade name of Alpacca (or Alpakka). The great
advantage of the use of Alpacca alloy as the base metal for
silver plating is that the appearance of the objects does not
change significantly with the wearing away of the silver layer.
For the measurements of marks I used a microscope with 0.05 mm
accuracy. All the photographs were made using a Fuji FinePix
The earliest known Berndorf Alpacca mark (No.1) was introduced
around 1880 and used until 1891. I found it on the bottom of a
30 cl teapot bearing the inscription KRIEAU, which corresponds
to the "Wiener Krieau", the famous race course in Vienna. The
mark No.1 represents an oval of 3.0 x 3.6 mm size bearing the
lettering "BMF ALPACCA" (which means Berndorfer Metallwaaren
Fabrik or Berndorf Metalware Factory) with the "M" and "F"
letters being fused. Inside the oval there is a profile of a
walking bear looking down. This mark is quite rare.
No.1, 1880-1891, 3.0 x 3.6 mm
30 cl Alpacca teapot from France
The next Berndorf Alpacca mark (No.2) was applied in
1891-1930. It is rather common, I have four pieces with this
mark, including the 40 cl teapot shown below. The mark No.2
represents an oval of 3.6 x 4.6 mm size (the mean value of four
measurements), bearing the lettering "BERNDORF ALPACCA" and the
horizontal dots separating these two words. Inside the oval
there is a profile of a walking bear looking down similar to
that of No.1.
No.2, 1891-1930, 3.6 x 4.6 mm
40 cl Alpacca teapot from Hungary
The third Berndorf Alpacca mark (No.3) was found on a 15 cl
creamer, which was issued between 1930 and 1938. This mark is
similar to No.2 with the exception of the larger size (4.5 x 6.5
mm) and the different profile of the bear: fatter, with both
ears visible and looking forward. This mark is also quite rare.
No.3, 1930-1938, 4.5 x 6.5 mm
15 cl Alpacca creamer from Hungary
Two last Berndorf Alpacca marks in my collection, No.4 and
No.5, were issued in 1938-1945, after the death of Arthur Krupp.
Therefore, they contain the side wording "KRUPP" and "BERNDORF",
which appear to the left and to the right of the oval. I was
able to distinguish two types of oval: with a flat bear profile
(No.4) and with a relief one (No.5). The sizes of the ovals are
also different, 3.5 x 4.5 mm and 2.8 x 3.5 mm for marks No.4 and
No.5, respectively. The profiles of bears were also slightly
modified in comparison with No.3.
No.4, 1938-1945, 3.5 x 4.5 mm, flat bear
No.5, 1938-1945, 2.8 x 3.5 mm, relief bear
Alpacca ash-tray from Hungary, bearing mark
The first Berndorf Alpacca Silber II mark (No.6) was
introduced around 1880 and used fifty (!) years until 1930. Such
a mark was found on the bottom of a silver-plated 30 cl teapot.
Inside the rhombus with the vertical diagonal of 3.5 mm long
there are two letterings: "BMF" (with the "M" and "F" letters
being fused) and "ASII" (which means Alpacca Silber II) and a
profile of a walking bear similar to that on mark No.2.
No.6, 1891-1930, 3.5 mm diagonal
Silver-plated 30 cl teapot from Karlsruhe
The second (No.7) and the third (No.8) Berndorf Alpacca
Silber II marks were introduced in 1930 and used until 1938.
They both use the rhomb with the vertical diagonal of 6.1 mm and
the bear profile similar to that on mark No.3. The difference
between the two marks is the additional circle of 1.9 mm in
diameter bearing the lying "E" letter in the case of No.8. The
presence of this additional circle testifies that the item with
such a mark was issued by the Esslingen branch of Berndorf
factory (Esslingen am Neckar, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany).
No.7, 1930-1938, 6.1 mm diagonal
No.8, 1930-1938, 6.1 mm diagonal, "E" letter
Alpacca Silber II ash-tray from UK, bearing
I believe that my list of marks used by the Berndorf factory
for low-quality items is far from being completed, i.e., the
ASII marks for the 1938-1945 period are absent. But for a
passionate collector the absence of something (marks or rare
pieces) in a collection is a challenge, which drives his/her
- Ingrid Haslinger, Tafelkultur Marke Berndorf, Das
Niederoesterreichische Erfolgsunternehmen Arthur Krupps (Ketterl
Verlag, Wien, 1998), pp.1-174, (in German).
- Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk and Claudia Kanowski,
Modern Art of Metallwork (Berlin: Broehan Museum, 2001), 1-598.
- Musterbuch ueber Tafelgeraete in Alpacca-Silber I,
Alpacca-Silber II und Alpacca, Unversilbert (Berndorfer Haus,
Berlin, 1928), pp.1-53, (in German).
- Waltraud Neuwirth, Bluehender Jugendstil Oesterreich,
Band 2: Firmen und Marken [Art Nouveau in Blossom - Austria,
Vol. 2: Companies and Marks]. Vienna: Selbstverlag Dr. Waltraud
Neuwirth, 1991, 1-288 (in German).
- David N. Nikogosyan, 2008, Marks of Silverplated
Hollowware Made by the Berndorf Metalware Factory in Austria,
Silver Magazine, Vol.40, No.3, pp.3-41; Correction, Silver
Magazine, Vol.40, No.4, p.11. Copies of these articles can be
ordered through Silver Magazine "Back Issues & Index" service,
available at www.silvermag.com
- Wikipedia, Die freie Enzyklopaedie. "Ernst August Geitner".
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_August_Geitner, 2007 (in
- Wikipedia, Die freie Enzyklopaedie. "Neusilber". http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neusilber,
2008. (in German).
Prof. David N. Nikogosyan,
University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
- 2008 -