As dainty and delicate as the posies she is picking, Ms. #523 is an exceptional (and exceptionally scarce) bathing belle by William Goebel. Her original blonde mohair wig in done in the typical Goebel beehive style, with the hank of mohair wrapped around the bald pate and kept in place by two tiny pins, pushed through a curl at each cheek. The molded pink pumps with contrasting yellow trim are also a standard style for Goebel. Of the finest bisque and workmanship, she is 4 inches and has no visible marks.
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.