This important service was ordered by Christian Auguste and Johanna Elizabeth, Prince and Princess of Anhalt and parents of Catherine the Great. It has been confused in the past with a very similar service with the arms of Anhalt-Dessau incorporating an L monogram that was made for Prince Leopold II (ruled 1747-51), a leading general in Frederick the Great's army.
Direct trade between China and the German princely states was rare. Frederick the Great established a trading company in 1751 but the Seven Years' War (1756-63) halted commerce, and only seven Prussian ships are recorded at Canton 1753-91. (See C. Le Corbeiller, China Trade Porcelain: Patterns of Exchange, pp. 80-83). The known German armorial services were all made for princely families: Hohenzollern, Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenberg-Schwerin. It is perhaps no coincidence that Catherine the Great herself ordered two services from China.