A friend of mine traveled to Paris earlier this month and while exploring an outdoor antiques market, she came upon this display of bathing beauties. She was hesitant to buy any because I had earlier warned her about reproductions, so she snapped this picture for me instead. It is a good thing she did, because every single nude, naughty, and bathing belle in this photo is a recent reproduction by Mundial Company in Belgium. This company produces many models of reproduction baigneuses (bathing beauties and naughties), poupees (all-bisque dolls) and demi-figurines (half dolls), all copies of German originals. Some of these reproductions are made to look worn and dirty, to give these new items the look of authentic age (and also to disguise the often poor quality). Mundial does not put its own mark on any of its items, but many pieces it produces, because they were made from molds taken from the antique originals, carry old numbers and marks, and some even have spurious marks. These new "old" items are appearing in antiques markets throughout Europe, on online auctions such as eBay, and even in antique shops and at antique shows, where they are often offered as antique. Mundial continues to churn out new lines of reproductions and the quality is improving. All dealers and collectors are urged to check out the Mundial website regularly to learn about Mundial's newest "antiques."
This is one of the Mundial repros that is pictured in the Parisian flea market booth. It is a poor copy of one of the ladies from the desirable black stocking series by the German company of Schafer and Vater. To the experienced eye, the abysmal quality of the bisque, modeling, and decoration, plus the applied staining and "dirt," clearly indicate it is a fake. Although Schafer sometimes had quality control problems, even on its worst days, it would never turn out such a low quality item. However, she is certainly good enough to fool a collector or dealer who never handled the antique original. She is unmarked, but some of the Mundial ladies carry an incised number and a crude three-point crown.
This lovely lively lass with her feline friend is the real deal. Look at the fine sharp bisque, the detailed modeling, from her free-flowing curls to the fine ribbing in her stockings. Many of these delicate details were lost in the copy. The fine combmarked curls of the antique are reduced in the repro to a bunch of lumps, and the expressive face with incised lid lines of the original becomes flat and lifeless in the repro. In this original, the folds in her chemise are crisp and deep, while in the repro they are reduced to faint rolls and indentations. Here the legs are slim and shapely, with slender ankles and dainty shoes with pointed toes. In the repro, the legs look thick and clumsy. The painting in this antique piece is delicate and detailed, especially her charming face with its parted smiling lips, while that in the repro is much heavier and cruder. Schafer was rather erratic with its marks, which were stamped into the clay during the greenware stage. This nubile naughtie is marked with an incised "2863/1," but I have seen others with the incised Schafer mark of an "R" inside of a crowned sunburst.
Another Mundial copy of one of the Schafer black-stocking series. She is unmarked.
And here is the Schafer antique original for comparison. She is also unmarked.
Mundial could easily and instantly stop this wide-spread misrepresentation of its repros as antiques by simply and clearly marking its products with its company name (an incised mark would be preferable to a stamped one, as the latter could be sanded off). For years its products have been showing up in antiques markets all over Europe, so Mundial is certainly aware at this point that its products are being widely misrepresented as old. In the face of all this fraud, why does Mundial continue to fail to mark its products?