This pretty pair of precolored bisque swimmers is unusual, not because of their pose, but because they are nearly pristine, with both their cold painted features and colorful cloth bathing suits intact. Their fetching and fashionable swimwear is patterned with bold art deco designs, beribboned with bright little bows. Just 2.75 inches long, these tiny twins look very much as they did when they left Hertwig and Company nearly a century ago. Too often these little flappers are now found nude and denuded of their painted features. These two bathing beauties show how Hertwig made even some of its most common bisque belles eye-catching and alluring.
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.