Continuing our exploration of the mystery match or toothpick holders adorned with lissome long-legged lasses, I am reintroducing Ms. #440, who appeared earlier on this blog. Like her sisters, she wears long black stockings and heeled pumps and has her full tresses twisted into a topknot. Her gown, however, is white, not pale yellow, and lacks the raised designs (but is certainly every bit as revealing!). She sits on a stool next to a basket of precolored green bisque. This 4.75 inch tall figurine is finely modeled in sharp bisque, is incised on back "5516," and has a freehand "14" painted in black under the basket.
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.