Ms. #458 balances on one knee as she stares intently at the golden ball held in her right hand. The art deco period produced an entire genre of slim athletic nudes balancing balls as they danced, so perhaps she is in the midst of a dance routine. Her complex pose required multiple molds and she is of excellent bisque. By William Goebel, this belle of the ball is 4 inches tall and is incised “i746” under her right thigh. Her molded dark pink pumps are edged in yellow; trimming molded shoes with contrasting colors was a typical Goebel technique. She retains her original, although disheveled, blonde mohair wig. Goebel wigs were often little more than a hank of mohair wrapped around the head and held in place at the sides with small decorative pins and they tend to unravel over time.
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.