Postcard Image

Postcard Image
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, September 25, 2013

Their Favorite Things--And Mine Too!

A friend tipped me off to a December 17, 2012, article that appeared in Cape May Magazine entitled "Their Favorite Things."  In the article, four bed and breakfast proprietors in the Cape May beach-side resort share their favorite things, including Sandy Miller of Windward House Inn, who describes the large collection of antique bathing beauty figurines that adorn her B&B. Miller and her late husband, Owen, collected the lovely ladies in the 1980s (I visited Cape May a number of years ago, but was unable to view the fabled Windward House collection because the B&B was closed for the season).


Except not all in the collection are ladies!  As seen in this picture headlining the article, the collection includes at least one scarce male of the bathing beauty species, a rare specimen I have dubbed Mr. Tuffolino.  

REPRODUCTION WARNING:  Mundial Company at Keralouve.com is manufacturing copies of "Tuffy" in a pink, red, or black bathing trunks (look for HR2011-1 through HR2011-3 under "Baigneueses").  The quality is far below that of the antique original (it does not even have Tuffy's most manly mustache!), but the copies could deceive a dealer or collector who has not had the pleasure of meeting the real Mr. Tuffolino in the flesh (or bisque). 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Last of the Brazen Hussies

This post covers my final example of a Schafer and Vater bisque naughty novelty that has been copied in bronze.


This 5.25 inch long flipper is of excellent sharp bisque and has the caption "Monna Vanna" incised across the nubile nude's diaphanous veil.  "Monna Vanna" was a 1902 opera by Maurice Maeterlinck, which takes place in 15th century Italy, where the army of Florence  has laid siege to Pisa.  Monna Vanna, a beautiful and virtuous Pisan noblewoman, agrees to come to the tent of the leader of the besieging forces clad only in a mantle if he will allow food to enter Pisa to feed her starving fellow citizens.  I suspect Maeterlinck envisioned a much more substantial mantle.

 
The flip side of Ms. Vanna.  This piece has been reproduced in Germany and the copies are often sold as antiques.  One version is glazed solid pink or green to imitate the precolored bisque often used by Schafer.  The other version is of good white bisque and colored like the original.  However, in the copy, the colors tend to be deeper and brighter and the painting, especially the facial painting, is carefully, almost stiffly, done, unlike the usual freer and loser hand typical of Schafer decorators.

 
Here is the metal model of Monna.  The folds in her cloak and the flow of her long tresses are almost identical to bisque version, suggesting that some foundry copied the Schafer figurine for this casting.

 
The end of both Ms. Vanna and my series of immodest metal maidens.