Frederick The Great, King of Prussia, ordered the Japanische Service on 13th November 1762. The shapes of the wares were derived from Parisian silver forms, but the graphic sources for the birds and animals which decorate the service are unknown. Although the circumstances of Frederick's order are well documented, very few pieces of the service are known, and only a very small number of pieces are in museums. A dessert-plate in the Kunst-und-Gewerbe museum, Cologne, is illustrated by Rainer Rückert, Meissener Porzellan (Munich, 1966), fig. 472, pl. 117, and a plate in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, is illustrated by D. Hoffmeister, Katalog der Sammlung Hoffmeister (Hamburg, 1999), Vol. I, no. 189. Another plate, from the Augustus Tulk Collection, was sold in these Rooms on 2nd October 1978, lot 108. It wasn't until 1988 that the first sizeable group of 15 plates from the estate of Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild were offered on the open market. These were sold by Christie's Geneva on 9th May 1988, lots 152-166.
For an extensive discussion of this service, and the circumstances of the order, see Otto Walcha, Friedrichs II, letzte bedeutended Porzellanbestellungen bei Meissen', Keramos, 1961, Vol. 12, pp. 31-33. Also see the tureen and stand in the Musée National de Ceramique Adrien Dubouché, Limoges, which was first recognised and published by Barbara Beaucamp-Markowsky, 'Rhinozeros und Panther Thier, Eine wieder aufgefundene Terrine aus dem Meissner Japanische Service Friedrichs des Grossen', Keramos 94/81 pp. 17-26, pls. 1, 2 and 3, and where the similarities between the 'Japanische Service' and the earlier Northumberland and Königsberg Services are discussed.