Sarreguemines is a commune in the Moselle department of the former region of Lorraine in north easten France. It came under French jurisdiction in 1766 but in 1871 following the Franco-Prussian war it became part of Germany, not returning to France until after the second World War in 1918. There are many border towns that have hop-scotched between the two countries over the last few hundred years.
Sarreguemines history of ceramics all started in 1790 when Nicholas Jacoby and two partners opened a small earthenware factory in the town of Sarreguemines. Fortune did not smile upon them and in 1800 a young enthusiastic Bavarian, Paul Utzschneider, who had worked for Wedgwood in England, took over the failing company. Paul Utzschneider introduced new decorating techniques, he must have been better than the average producer as Napoleon I was a major customer and even bestowed the 'Legion d'Honneur' upon him.
The factory supplied most of the original tiles in the Paris Metro. I don't know if there are any still in the Metro system of Paris, next time you are there keep your eyes open!
In 1836 Paul Utzschneider handed over management of the factory to his son-in-law Alexandre de Geiger. Alexandre retired to Paris when Moselle was annexed to Germany in 1871 and left the management of the company to his son Paul de Geiger. Two new factories were opened, one in Digoin and one in Vitry-le-François.
In 1913 Paul de Geiger died, the company was split into two ventures one managed the Sarreguemines factory and one managed the Digoin-Vitry-le-François factories. It was not until after the first world war ended in 1918 and Sarreguemines was returned to France that the factories were reunited under the name Sarreguemines-Digoin-Vitry-le-François and was run by the Cazal family.
1942-1945, during the Second World War the factories were sequestered by the Germans and management was entrusted to Villeroy and Boch. Some of the factory was destroyed by bombing during the war.
In 1979 the company was taken over by the Lunéville-Badonviller-Saint Clément group and concentrated on the productio of floor and wall ties.
1982 the company was renamed Sarreguimines-Bâtiment and produced only tiling.
The company, under the ownership of employees and management, who became shareholders in 2002, struggled on until finally on February 1st 2007 all activities stopped after a court ordered liquidation.
Sadly the faience factory of Sarreguemines no longer exists. The Sarreguemines Museum however, which is housed in the former apartments of Paul de Geiger, has a rich collection of ceramics and is described as a memorial to the industry that made the city's reputation.
The Sarreguemines museum has a direct link to the company records and you can contact them in regard to any markings on your pieces.
I contacted the museum and they provided me with the following information about this particular mark : This service dates from the first quarter of the 20th century. The mark '3bis' indicates the size of the plate, the figures correspond to a precise template. The 'E' is a shaping mark, the person who makes the biscuit (this is the unfired piece) affixes his mark as soon as it is finished. the mark '25' is the designation of the dough, depending on the mixture used the dough will have a number.
If you have any pieces from sarreguemines you would like help identifying I highly recommend the museum for the information and service. Put it on your list of places to visit on your next trip to France! I certainly have.