This beautiful bathing belle by Galluba and Hofmann appears in all her original, if slightly tattered, glory. In addition, at 6 inches long and 2.25 inches high, she is a nice larger size. Her decorator not only endowed her with an especially lovely face, but also dabbed blush on her knees. Any marks are hidden under the black lace of her bathing suit.
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.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
This appears to be just an antique man's costume ring, of inexpensive base metal with a gold-tone plating and a cut glass gem.
But peek over the side, and a tiny peephole appears. And when you peer inside. . . .
a voluptuous belle appears in all her bare beauty (the picture is actually a full length nude, and very clear, but this is the best photograph I could take through the tiny peephole). Beneath this ring's false diamond is a hidden gem, an early erotic Stanhope novelty. John Benjamin Dancer, in 1851, invented a way to produce minute microphotographs that could be viewed only by using a microscope. In 1857, Rene Dagon improved upon Dancer's invention by placing the microphotograph under a modified Stanhope lens (a Stanhope lens is a simple microscope consisting of a glass cylinder with convex ends). Stanhope viewers soon became popular with the public. Tourists could purchase a wide variety of novelties and charms containing souvenir pictures of the sites they had just seen, rosaries and crosses enclosed tiny scrolls bearing the "Lord's Prayer," and portraits of the famous could be found encased in everything from thimble holders to pipes. And some of those little Stanhope peepholes revealed very private peepshows of nubile nudes or scantily-clad sirens. I can image a man, sharing brandy and cigars with a few close buddies, slipping off this ring and saying, "Hey, fellas, take a look at this!"
Miniature binoculars were popular holders for Stanhopes. Usually inside were pictures of popular tourist attractions, such as various views of Niagara Falls or Parisian landmarks. This petite pair, just under an inch in height, is carved out of bone.
Inside, they picture a completely different type of attraction, two attractive bathing beauties.
The actual pictures are much clearer, but again, these are the best photographs I could take through the little lenses. Along the edge of each picture is the caption "Made in France."