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.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Calender Girl, from 1913

In addition to collecting antique German bathing beauty figurines and related items, I also have a small collection of antique and vintage memorabilia of Austin, Texas, my hometown. So this charming calender from 1913 is a "two-fer," as it not only pictures a beautiful bathing belle, but was also issued by Nixon-Clay Commercial College of Austin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Glasperlen and Flittergold

The German bisque companies who produced bathing beauties were always experimenting with decorative techniques which would make their products stand out from those of their many competitors.
This lovely lady has a bathing suit and hat decorated with glasperlen, also known as coralene. Hundreds of tiny glass beads were used to cover her sunhat and bathing suit, giving them a glow. Unfortunately, while such ornaments were attractive, they tended to be unstable, as the minuscule glass beads had only a tenuous hold on the underlying bisque or china. Even factory fresh items were often missing small patches, and in her travels over the decades, many of this bathing belle's glittering glasperlen have rubbed away and rolled off. However, even without such adornment, this beautiful bisque belle exudes a glow of her own. Of excellent pale bisque, with fine realistic expression and modeling, this laughing lady is 2.5 inches tall and 6 inches long. She is unmarked, but certainly is of the finest German quality.

Also once covered in coralene, this flirtatious flapper is 4.75 inches long, and 1.75 inches high. Of fine precolored bisque, she is probably by the German firm of Hertwig and Company. There are no visible marks.

Hertwig experimented with a number of decorative techniques, and this dainty dancer from this factory has her fashionable outfit covered in golden glitter, which Hertwig referred to in its catalogues as "flittergold." She is six inches tall and stands against a small vase.

It takes two to tango, and these elegant Edwardians dance the night away in gowns covered in glittering flittergold. Although Hertwig pictures a similar pair in its catalogues, I do not think these dancing damsels are by this company. Of good bisque and 5.25 inches tall, this figurine is incised “Germany 8918.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Exquisite Ivory Nude

I admit she is not German, not bisque, and not really a bathing beauty, but she is exquisitely lovely, and she is nude. Found in my favorite thrift shop, Next to New, this ivory bust portrays a voluptuous bare beauty emerging from a lotus.

The ivory bust is 3.5 inches tall and the wooden pedestal, which I think may be rosewood, is 3.25 inches tall. There are a few chips to the lower flower petals in the front, but, frankly, who is looking at the petals! After doing some research, I believe this stunning ivory sculpture is East Indian. I wonder if she represents the Hindu goddess, Lakshmi, who is often portrayed as sitting on or emerging from a giant lotus. Lakshmi is considered the the embodiment of beauty and grace, and this buxom belle is certainly that!