This exquisite aristocrat in her elegant molded Edwardian gown is a variation of the literary lady reading the newspaper as part of the terrific trio of tea partiers by Galluba and Hofmann. She retains her original wooden chair adorned with ormolu ornaments and her full, lush mohair wig. Although her chair is not marked, she is incised under the edge of her skirt "4990." Of the finest bisque and workmanship, she is 7 inches tall.
As the Victorian era passed into the Edwardian and Roaring Twenties, a market developed for bisque and china bawdy novelties and figurines of women in revealing outfits. Although now most of these figurines seem more coy and cute than ribald and risque, in their time they symbolized the casting off of the perceived restraints of the Victorian era.
These little lovelies included bathing beauties, who came clad in swimsuits of real lace or in stylish painted beach wear, as well as mermaids, harem ladies, and nudies, who were meant to wear nothing more than an engaging smile. Also produced were flippers, innocent appearing figurines who reveal a bawdy secret when flipped over, and squirters, figurines that were meant to squirt water out of an appropriate orifice.
Most were manufactured in Germany from the late 1800s through the 1930s, often showing remarkable artistry and imagination, with Japan entering the market during World War I.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
On this blog, I have repeatedly warned collectors about reproduction bathing beauties and all-bisque dolls made by the Belgium company, Mundial (aka Keralouve) that have flooded antiques and flea markets and on-line auction and sales venues, where they are often misrepresented as old. Although the quality of these items is often far below that of the antique originals, it is good enough to fool many collectors and dealers, especially when the items are aged with applied dirt and rust spots. I have just discovered that Dollmasters, a spin-off of Theriault's Auctions, which specialized in artist and reproduction dolls, old store stock, and reproduction doll clothes, has become Florence and George and the spring catalogue is offering a variety of Mundial bathing beauties (see pages 10, 11, and 37; there is also a copy of a Schafer and Vater figurine on the back cover). The catalogue states that "Cast from the original designs, you'll find it hard to distinguish from the rare and sought originals - except that ours are stamped "f&g" on the underside." While it is good that these, unlike the rest of Mundial products, will be marked to indicate that they are reproductions, the problem with stamped marks, as collectors and dealers learned from the re-issues made by the now defunct German Doll Company, is that they can be removed by unscrupulous sellers.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Perhaps this bathing belle seems to be slyly smiling because she has a secret. . . .
. . . .this beach babe is a bottle, perfect for concealing a secret stash of hooch.
And at 7 inches high and 6 inches long, she could contain quite of bit of booze. This is one woman who really knows how to hold her liquor! There are no marks and she is made of a low-fire ceramic. Hertwig and Company of Germany produced bathing beauties, figurines, and other items in this type of ceramic, which the company advertised as "feinsteingut." Her modeling and pose do resemble many of Hertwig's flapper bathing beauties from the 1920s and 30s.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
This beautiful bathing belle by Galluba and Hofmann appears in all her original, if slightly tattered, glory. In addition, at 6 inches long and 2.25 inches high, she is a nice larger size. Her decorator not only endowed her with an especially lovely face, but also dabbed blush on her knees. Any marks are hidden under the black lace of her bathing suit.
Friday, March 7, 2014
This appears to be just an antique man's costume ring, of inexpensive base metal with a gold-tone plating and a cut glass gem.
But peek over the side, and a tiny peephole appears. And when you peer inside. . . .
a voluptuous belle appears in all her bare beauty (the picture is actually a full length nude, and very clear, but this is the best photograph I could take through the tiny peephole). Beneath this ring's false diamond is a hidden gem, an early erotic Stanhope novelty. John Benjamin Dancer, in 1851, invented a way to produce minute microphotographs that could be viewed only by using a microscope. In 1857, Rene Dagon improved upon Dancer's invention by placing the microphotograph under a modified Stanhope lens (a Stanhope lens is a simple microscope consisting of a glass cylinder with convex ends). Stanhope viewers soon became popular with the public. Tourists could purchase a wide variety of novelties and charms containing souvenir pictures of the sites they had just seen, rosaries and crosses enclosed tiny scrolls bearing the "Lord's Prayer," and portraits of the famous could be found encased in everything from thimble holders to pipes. And some of those little Stanhope peepholes revealed very private peepshows of nubile nudes or scantily-clad sirens. I can image a man, sharing brandy and cigars with a few close buddies, slipping off this ring and saying, "Hey, fellas, take a look at this!"
Miniature binoculars were popular holders for Stanhopes. Usually inside were pictures of popular tourist attractions, such as various views of Niagara Falls or Parisian landmarks. This petite pair, just under an inch in height, is carved out of bone.
Inside, they picture a completely different type of attraction, two attractive bathing beauties.
The actual pictures are much clearer, but again, these are the best photographs I could take through the little lenses. Along the edge of each picture is the caption "Made in France."
Thursday, February 20, 2014
This lovely lithe lady, who is literally having a ball, is by my favorite German manufacturer, A. W. Fr. Kister. A sizable 7.25 inches long, she wears the remains of her original mohair wig. Although unmarked. . .
she is clearly the sister of this pretty miss and her playful pup, who appeared earlier on this blog. This nubile nude carries the cross-hatched "S" of A.W. Fr. Kister. She also appears in the Kister catalogue.
A side by side comparison of this pair of Kister sisters.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
As dainty and delicate as her tiny teacup and saucer, this extraordinarily lovely lady is a fashion figurine from Galluba and Hofmann.
A close up of her elegant and exquisite face and hands. She retains her original lush mohair wig.
This marvelous maiden is eight inches tall. She has long lost her outfit to time, but still sits in her original wooden chair with its velvet upholstery and ormolu decoration. Although she is unmarked, her chair is stamped underneath with the Galluba mark.
If this bisque belle looks familiar, it may be because I previously posted this 1983 advertisement for Nina Ricci. . . .
which features this trio of terrific Galluba and Hofmann fashion figures.
Here are my three ladies. All have long lost their original gowns, but have managed to preserve their mohair wigs. I wonder what sort of elaborate outfit the literary lady reading the newspaper once wore to match her magnificent millinery!
Here's how they appeared in the Galluba catalogue. Note the ormolu decorations on the Empire-style furniture. Galluba clearly lavished as much care in costuming its bisque belles as it did in creating them!
And, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of an English collector, the following are photographs of the famous three from the Ricci advertisement. Her husband had purchased them from the estate of the fashion photographer who photographed the ad.