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Object of Desire: Hand-Crafted Porcelain House Numbers from Germany

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Object of Desire: Hand-Crafted Porcelain House Numbers from Germany

May 1, 2019

One downside of living in a big apartment building, as I do, is that most efforts at curb appeal are irrelevant: I can’t affix a charming house number to my door, and there would be no passersby to see it anyway.

But had I the chance to choose a calling card of sorts for my place, I would go for pared-back, dark, and simple house numbers. These handmade versions from Germany, recently spotted on Manufactum, fit the bill. Surprisingly, they’re made of the same material as Limoges porcelain. But delicate these are not: Finished in a dark charcoal, they’re timeless with a twist of character. Take a look.

House numbers of a similar sort—simple, dark, and timeless, just the way I like them—at architect Barbara Chambers&#8
Above: House numbers of a similar sort—simple, dark, and timeless, just the way I like them—at architect Barbara Chambers’s house in Mill Valley, California. For more, see Architect Visit: Barbara Chambers at Home in Mill Valley.

The Porcelain House Numbers are made in Upper Bavaria of a hard-paste porcelain, the same material used to make the delicate, prized tableware known as Limoges porcelain. I like the dark, dramatic Anthracite finish, shown here.
Above: The Porcelain House Numbers are made in Upper Bavaria of a hard-paste porcelain, the same material used to make the delicate, prized tableware known as Limoges porcelain. I like the dark, dramatic Anthracite finish, shown here.
In a multi-step manufacturing process, the material first is “vigorously compacted in gypsum molds by hand,” then “wrapped in blotting paper and gently weighted down.” As it dries, the porcelain shrinks about three percent. “Only when they are completely dry are the edges wiped carefully with a damp sponge before being bisque fired at 980 degrees Celsius, after which they are given a color glazing and then fired in the kiln at 1,300 degrees Celsius,” according to Manufactum. “The wiping down with the damp sponge beforehand serves as the first quality check, when even the finest cracks in the material are revealed.”

The result is a simple but sophisticated house number. The numbers are sold individually; each is €.50.
Above: The result is a simple but sophisticated house number. The numbers are sold individually; each is €27.50.
Above: A detail of the finish and the accompanying mounting hardware. (Plastic spacers are also included, Manufactum notes, to “ensure that the porcelain does not break when tightening the screws.”)

 The line is also available in letter form, € each.
Above: The line is also available in letter form, €18 each.
Add curb appeal with suggestions in Exteriors & Facades: A Design Guide in our Garden Design 101 guides. More house letters to choose from, for every style:

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