I am one of the eight collectors featured in the April 2016 edition of "Austin Monthly." Note how I carefully arranged the photo shoot (this pose was my idea) to reduce being in the picture as much as possible. I am far more photophobic rather than photogenic, but the magazine insisted that each collector had to be pictured with his or her collection. My main bathing beauty cabinet opens from both sides (it originally was a wet bar and I removed the sink and had a custom cabinet built in), so I could stand in the back and just peek over my ladies (who make a much prettier picture!), while the photographer snapped the photo from the front.
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.