Ms. #372 is a china powder box adorned with a bisque bathing beauty by Galluba and Hofmann. The 4 inch tall seated bather beauty wears her original dark blonde mohair wig and yellow net suit with pale yellow ribbon trim. She has no visible marks, but her sea shell seat is incised “9641" on the bottom. The lissome lass is attached to the top of the box with a wooden peg. I dislike the term "rare," which is overused and abused in the world of antiques, but in all my years of collecting, I have come across only one other shell box and belle by Galluba. In that example, the shell was larger and the reclining bather was pegged to the shell's lower edge.
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.