Ms. #472 is one supersized siren, measuring 14.5 inches long and 7 inches high. She is all original, from her light auburn mohair wig to her net bathing suit trimmed with red ribbons Her face is beautifully painted and detailed, with brown feathered brows, finely painted eyelashes, and parted smiling coral lips revealing molded teeth. There are no visible marks, but she is by Galluba and Hofmann. My theory is that these gigantic bisque bathing belles by Galluba were meant as exhibit pieces, perhaps at commercial expositions or store displays, and were not generally available to the public (it would take one heck of a china cabinet to display this gorgeous giantess!) These extra-large ladies are very hard to find, especially in such pristine condition.
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.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
I have had this rather weird and wacky bathing beauty plate in my collection for many years. It is part of a series showing funny beach side frolics.
Recently I came across this postcard by American artist Walter Wellman (1879-1949). In the early 1900s, Wellman, a cartoonist for the Boston Globe, began publishing some of his cartoons as postcards. Wellman created comic strips and drew illustrations for many of the newspapers and magazines of the day. It is interesting that even though the postcard clearly states that the image is copyrighted by Wellman, the plate does not include any reference to Wellman.
Another Wellman postcard. His rather weird sense of humor does not appear to have passed the test of time. Perhaps you had to be there (meaning the early 1900s) to appreciate it.
Another plate that was certainly inspired by the Wellman cartoon. Again, there have been some subtle changes to the cartoon and the caption's American slang has been switched to more proper English.
The mark on the back of each plate. I have not been able to determine who the maker is, but I think, considering the plates appear to be plagiarising Wellman's postcards, the "Copyright Applied For" is a rather cheeky touch.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
A coy cutie, Ms. #470 stands 8.5 inches tall. She has her original mohair wig and her legs are tinted dark gray to resemble stockings. This lithe lovely certainly belongs on a pedestal! By Galluba and Hofmann, such standing sirens are scarce. Not only were they expensive to make and assemble, their slender legs and slim ankles are weak points, and many of her sisters no doubt broke off of their bases over the past century. There are no marks.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Ms. #468 strikes a pretty pose as she scans the horizon. By Galluba and Hofmann, this bisque bathing beauty is still clad in her original bathing suit of silk net and ribbon, and her original mohair wig is covered by a matching bathing cap. She is 4.25 inches long and any marks are hidden under her fragile swimsuit.