Ms. #379 is a pretty mermaid with flowing tresses. Mermaids might be called the original bathing beauties. Of good china with nice decoration, this piece is 4 inches tall and 4.5 inches long. Her finny friend is finished with a pearl-like luster. This mermaid has a split tail, with legs extending to her knees and finned feet, an early traditional way of portraying these sea sirens. This piece is incised “5324 Germany” on the back right side of the fish.
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.