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, December 28, 2011

Bathing Beauties of the Week

This quartet of china curvaceous cuties is by William Goebel.   These are diminutive damsels, as the one sitting the yellow hooded “wicker chair” is only 2.5 inches high.  She also is the only one that is marked, as underneath  the chair is incised  with William Goebel's intertwined “G” and “W” under crown and what appears to be “P.O.” over “641.” 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Making an Ass of Himself

This comic bisque pin dish by Schafer and Vater features a very voluptuous bathing belle being held by a rather flustered beau.  The caption, " I Never Felt Such an Ass in All My Life," is a double entendre, as can be read as meaning either that the man is feeling foolish or his female friend's ample hindquarters.

And here is the postcard that inspired the pin dish.  The artist is Donald Fraser Gould McGill (1875 – 1962), an English graphic artist renown for his naughty postcards, which often featured double entendres and saucy sight gags.  Many of his postcards portrayed seaside scenes and were sold as souvenirs at British beach resorts.   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Ms.  #450 is an unusual bathing beauty and a bit of a mystery.   Unmarked, she is 5.5 inches high and wears a mohair wig.  Although she clearly meant to be standing,  there are no holes in the soles of her feet for supporting rods.  Perhaps she was once attached to a bisque base with plaster or glue.   She is of excellent bisque and is beautifully modeled. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bathing Beauty (?!) of the Week

This week features a naughty novelty rather than a bathing belle.  Mr. #448 is a clown who appears to have misplaced his seltzer bottle or squirting flower and is substituting a more personal appendage.  Incised "649" on his buttocks, this bisque buffoon is 3.25 inches high.  There is a lip around his molded orange-brown cap that once held  a rubber bulb, and when he was filled with water and the bulb squeezed, a stream of water came out of the appropriate orifice.   

Monday, December 12, 2011

Delightful Dancing Damsel by A.W. Fr. Kister

This gorgeous dancing girl is by my favorite maker, A.W. Fr. Kister.  She is 8 inches tall and is of the superb bisque and workmanship typical of Kister. 

Her modeling is magnificent, from her graceful hands to her long lithe legs clad in molded white stockings.  She wears a replacement mohair wig and I added the frilled tiny pink and blue tutu (which matches her shoes), transforming her into an exquisite entertainer on stage at some elegant carbaret or nightclub.  I wonder how she was originally dressed!

Underneath the base she is incised with the crosshatched "S" mark of A.W. Fr. Kister and "3" over "12040."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Ms. #447 is a mischievous maiden, tugging down the front of her bathing suit to expose one round breast.  There is a molded lip atop her bathing cap and it once held a rubber bulb; when she was filled with water and the bulb squeezed, water sprayed from her bare breast.   She is quite nicely modeled for this type of naughty novelty.  Of good bisque and decoration, she is 3.5 inches long and is incised "7403" across her upper back. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bubbly Belles

This is the time of the year of popping corks and crystal glasses filled with golden champagne and sparkling wine.  These two bisque beauties appear to bubble with glee and goodwill as they raise their glasses filled with their favorite sparkling beverage.


 Her voluptuous form barely contained by her fanciful outfit, this lovely lass leans against a giant champagne cork as she prepares to pour some wine.  Of excellent sharp bisque, she is 5 inches long and 3 inches high.

The cork, of green precolored bisque, is open at the top to hold matches or toothpicks.  On the back is incised "Kaiser Sect Kloss u Forster."  The wine house Kloss and Foerster was founded by Moritz and Julius Kloss and Carl Foerster in Freyburg, Germany in 1856.  "Kaiser Sect" may refer to the fact that Kaiser Wilhelm II was said to be fond of the firm's sparkling wine, known as "Sekt."

No doubt by the same maker and from the same series, this buxom belle briefly clad in blue shows off her shapely legs in bright yellow stockings.  At first I thought she was holding a folded fan in her  raised left hand, but closer inspection shows that it is champagne flute overflowing with foam.  She is  4.25 inches wide and 4 inches tall.  The front of her cork is incised "Henkell Trocken," another German wine company, founded in 1856, known for its sparkling wine.  I wonder if these pieces were produced specifically as advertisements for these wine firms, or just simply acknowledge the popularity of these bubbling beverages.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Ms. #446 is sweet and petite.  Just 2.5 inches long,  she is nicely modeled from good bisque  with delicate arms and legs free from her body.  She has an old, and possibly original,  blonde mohair wig and  ecru lace dress with a yellow ribbon sash and matching ecru lace panties.  There are no visible marks. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Heart-Breaker by the Breakers

This funny Valentine featuring a big-eyed bathing beauty was printed by George S. Carrington Greeting Card Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois, probably in the 1920s.  
 Seven inches tall, the flapper bathing belle's head swings back and forth on a small metal brad, allowing her to make big bright googly eyes to admirers on both sides.   The caption reads "Oh, You Heart-Breaker."

This is a pair of canvas bathing shoes from the same period, similar to those donned by the Valentine bather above.  They are as narrow as they look; they fit my AAAA feet just fine, but are probably too small for most of today's beach-goers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Most appropriately for Thanksgiving, Ms.  #442 shows off a very shapely pair of drumsticks.   Of fine sharp bisque, this boisterous belle is 4.5 inches tall and 2.75 inches wide .  Although unmarked, she is by the German firm of Schafer and Vater.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 62 Redux

Someone asked about Ms.  #441's odd pose and what she is supposed to be doing.  Here she is again, this time demonstrating with a sister Galluba that she is positioned to share a whispered confidence ("Don't look now, darling, but I think we forgot to put on our dresses, again.")

Now that I have revitalized this blog, I am going to slow down a bit, and instead of a bathing beauty a day, I will post each Wednesday a bather of the week.  This will be in addition to any other postings I think might be of interest to the collecting community, but rest assured that something will be posted to this blog at least once a week.

Also, as of December 1, 2011, my old website will cease to exist.  I will finish transferring all the remaining information from the website to this blog before then.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 62

Ms.  #441 is a dainty damsel by Galluba and Hofmann.  This 6.5 inch tall bisque seated lady has retained her original dark blonde mohair wig with a dark red silk headband trimmed in black beads,  but the rest of her Edwardian elegance has been lost to time.  Now she is clad only in her molded white one-piece underwear, pale blue ribbed stockings, and bronze boots.  She is incised “412” under her seat. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Big Girls Don't Cry . . . .

 . . . . especially when they are this extraordinarily large and lovely.  This gorgeous Galluba and Hofmann bisque bathing beauty is 12 inches high.  She retains her original mohair wig and is incised "426" under her base.


A close up pf her face shows the extraordinary detail of her face, including tiny teeth painted between her full parted lips.  Her bisque has the soft, subtle sheen of just-washed skin.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 61

Ms. #440 is a lissome leggy lass happy to hold your matches or toothpicks. This 4.75 inch tall figurine features the lady in sharp tinted bisque, while her basket is of precolored green bisque.   The piece is incised on back "5516" and painted with a "14" in black under the basket.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 60

If Ms #450 has a family resemblance to Ms. #381, it is because she is also by the German firm of Ernst Bohne Söhne, and she carries another version of the company's mark,  a blue stamp of a crowned  "N."  Of excellent bisque and decoration, she is 3.75 inches high.  Like her sister, the treatment of her tresses is unusual, as she has applied bisque curls in the front and molded combmarked locks in the back.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 59

Ms. #438 is a finned female atop a fantastic flower frog.  The 4.5 inch tall china frog features a lovely split-tail lorelei gracefully diving into the deep.   Other than a freehand red “41” underneath, the piece is unmarked, but is of fine German quality.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 58

Delicate and diminutive Ms. #437 is only  2 inches long and tall.   Of excellent bisque and modeling, there are even applied pink roses with tiny petals and green leaves in her dark blonde hair.   Stamped in black underneath "Bavaria," she is by William Goebel.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 57

Ms. #436 is another harem lady, this time in the form of a pincushion doll.  Of good china and well painted for her petite size, this small sultana is 2.75 inches tall.  She is unmarked, except for tiny freehand numbers "141" in black.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 56

Ms. #434 is a large and lovely harem dancer by Dressel, Kister, and Company.  Of excellent china and beautifully detailed and decorated, this 12 inch tall sultry sultana stands on a 1.5 inch tall wooden base.  Although unmarked, she is pictured, posing on a similar wooden base, in a 1911 Dressel catalogue.  Next to her is a silver cigarette case with an enameled picture of a nude in an almost identical pose.  Dressel often copied popular paintings and postcards of the day, but so far I have been unable to locate the original image that inspired both the case and figurine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 55

Ms. #432 is a sister of Ms. #431 and is also attributed to Fasold and Stauch.  Of good quality china and decoration, this 5 inch long bathing beauty is incised "180" underneath.  Her left hand is pierced to hold an object. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 54

Lovely in lavender, Ms. #431 may be by Fasold and Stauch.  Of fine china and decoration, she is 3 inches tall and long and is incised "183" on her lower back.   Her left hand is pierced so that she could hold an object, like a little paper parasol.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 53

Ms. #427 is the sister of the previous Ms. #426, and like her sibling, inspired by the Barrison Sisters.    Not only is she shamelessly exposing her legs, she is even smoking a cigarette or slender cigar!  The Five Barrison Sisters posed in similar costumes, all holding cigarettes, a suggestive and scandalous gesture for a woman in the 1890s.   This china coquette is 5 inches long and is unmarked.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 52

Ms. # 426 is yet another figurine inspired by the bawdy Barrison Sisters.   The costume worn by this 5 inch long china coquette is molded after those worn by the five sisters during their stage act.  There are no marks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 51

Ms. #425 reclines on a ponderous powder box shaped like a seashell.  This 7.5 inch long, 5.5 inch  box of bathing beauty lying on a realistic whelk shell is of good bisque and is well modeled and decorated.  The top if the shell lifts off to reveal the recess within.  The piece is incised "4343" on back lower edge of box.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 50

Ms. #422 is a bathing beauty who really rocks.  This 3.5 inch comic character is a nodder, swaying from side to side on her sturdy legs.  Although unmarked, she is certainly from the firm of Schafer and Vater, who made a number of figurines featuring such obese bathing belles.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 49

Ms. #419 is a ravishing redhead who is as big as she is beautiful.   This 11 inch long china nude has striking large amber eyes completely outlined in black and surrounded by gray shadows.  Of the finest china and decoration, she is incised underneath “7156” and marked with a free hand “134” in flesh tone.  She is attributed to the German firm of Fasold and Stauch.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 48

Ms. #418 is a tambourine-playing harem dancer.  This  5.5 inch tall and 2.5 inch wide china vase, although marked underneath only with a freehand black "5," is from the German firm of Schafer and Vater.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 47

Ms. #417 sits shyly on the edge of her elaborate bath tub.  Of excellent sharp bisque, this belle and her bath are 4.5 inches high and 4 inches long.  There are no marks. 

I will not be posting tomorrow or Monday.  Please check back on Tuesday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 46

Ms. #416 is a working girl, as this 8 inch tall china bathing beauty is actually a bottle (she comes apart at the waist).  Incised underneath “Germany 5490,” she is nicely decorated, especially the art deco design on her cloak.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 45

Ms. #415 casts a sultry look over her feather fan.  This 4 inch tall china kneeling nude does have the most extraordinary large amber eyes, shadowed in gray.  Although unmarked, she is attributed to the German firm of Fasold and Stauch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bathing Beauties of the Day; Day 44

Misses #414 are another toothsome twosome.  This 3 inch tall china perfume bottle of two bathing beauties is based on a drawing by Anne Harriet Fish (1890-1964), a British artist and illustrator.  Her work appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Tatler and she created designs for Fulper Pottery and Hubley Manufacturing Company, who made cast iron toys and novelties, such as doorstops.  The bottle is stamped underneath “Bavaria” and is incised “X.F. 269,” “Dep,” and with the William Goebel crown mark. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 43

Misses #413 are an unusual pair of china charmers.   Incised "5683 Foreign," this figurine is probably by Hertwig and Company of Germany.  The lady in the green beach pajamas has her left hand pierced to hold a paper parasol.  Made of good china, the faces are nicely, although simply painted, and the painting on the suits shows the rather hasty application common on these little early novelties.  The orange trim is cold painted, not fired in, and does show some minor wear. Cold painting is a decorative technique widely used by German companies in the 1920s and 1930s.  Although of average quality,  the fact that the figurine is of double bathing belles makes it scarce and desirable. 

Unfortunately, while this antique original is hard to find, modern reproductions are not.  This couple was first copied by the German Doll Company (GDC), which acquired the original molds.   The original GDC reissues carried the company's blue clown mark.  However different copies, both in bisque and china, began appearing in Germany, either made from another old mold or from molds taken off of the GDC product.  The quality of the slip and decoration of these German copies is far superior to that of the antique item.  On the other hand, Mundial Company of Belgium is currently producing a china copy (Ref: HR0251).  In the Mundial copy, the workmanship is far inferior to the antique original, and the figurine has been made to look worn and dirty.  Mundial does not mark its products and the copies are turning up in antique markets and online auctions, where they may be misrepresented, either innocently or intentionally, as antique or vintage.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 42

Ms. #412 studies her face intently in her hand mirror,  holding her powder puff at the ready in her right hand.  Clearly beauty is a serious business for this bisque belle!  From the German firm of Hertwig and Company and made out of fine precolored bisque, she is 3.5 inches long and high.  The realistic modeling is excellent and demostrates the high caliber of artists retained by this company.   Like many Hertwig products, some of the features are cold painted; you can see slight wear to her hair color and her lips probably once were painted. I think Hertwig's fine bisque nudes are often undervalued by collectors.  There are no marks.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 41

Ms. #410 is a nubile nymph from my favorite manufacturer, the German firm of A. W. Fr. Kister.   Kister's lovely ladies are often mistaken for those made by competitor Galluba and Hofmann, but Kister's lissome lasses are more realistically proportioned than the stylized Gallubas and typically have molded and blushed nipples, an anatomical detail missing on most bathing belles.  They also generally wear molded bathing slippers with low heels.  Like most of her Kister sisters, this bisque beauty is unmarked.  Of the finest bisque and workmanship, she is 5 inches long and 3.5 inches high.  She retains her pale blonde mohair wig with the remains of taupe net bathing cap. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 40

The 5.25 inch long bisque bathing beauty is incised underneath with mark of Schafer and Vater and number that appears to be "7923." Although she is an authentic antique, this lovely lass is currently being reproduced by Mundial Company of Belgium (click on "baigneuses" on the index to the left).  The antique original has excellent sharp bisque and modeling, while the bisque of the knock-off lacks the clean, sharp quality of the original.  In the original, the swimsuit (here bright orange, but it also came in blue) is cold painted, has a matte finish, and often shows some wear.  In the reproduction, the color is fired in, and is a dirty, slightly shiny orange with greenish shading or a dingy blue).  The crisply molded details of the original, such as her combmaked curls, and the flowing folds in her towel, are lost in the reproduction.  Mundial does not mark its products, which are often artificially aged to look worn and dirty (and also to disguise their often poor quality).  The repros are showing up in antiques and flea markets, as well as on-line auctions, where they are sometimes sold as antiques.  Although their quality falls well below that of the antique original, they can fool innocent collectors and honest dealers who have not had a chance to handle the genuine item.

I will not be posting tomorrow, so please check back on Sunday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 39

Ms. #405 is the sister to Ms. #404.  Incised on the back of her base with the Gebruder Heubach sunburst mark and "3736," this bisque belle is 5.75 inches tall.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 38

Ms. #404 looks like she stepped out of a sea-side sketch by Charles Dana Gibson, but in fact she was created by Gebruder Heubach.  This 6.75 inch tall bisque figurine is incised on the back of the base with the Heubach sunburst mark and "3753." 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 37

Ms. #403 must have been at one heck of a party. How else to explain why she is sprawled atop a ponderous porker, dressed only in her undergarments and clutching a bottle of booze? This 4.75 inch long bisque figurine is incised "5246" and is painted with a red freehand "12." There is a series of these underdressed belles literally sitting high on the hog. In Germany, the pig is a sign of good luck and prosperity. A person who is lucky will say "Ich Habe Schwein Gehabt" (I have had pig). It is traditional to give gifts of candy or marzipan pigs known as glücksschweinchen (good luck pigs) at Christmas. So maybe instead of a "good luck pig," this is a "get lucky pig."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 36

Magnificent Ms. #402  is a towering 14 inches tall.  Of the finest china and workmanship,  she is stamped underneath in blue with the crosshatched “S” of A.W. Fr. Kister and is incised “10417.”  On the base in bold gilt letters is "SALOME.”  Her beautifully detailed costume, what there is of it, is an exact copy of that worn by interpretative dancer Maud Allan  when she performed her most famous role in “A Vision of Salome.” Allan, who designed her own costumes and created her own choreography, first debuted as Salome in 1906, but it was in 1908 when she appeared on the London stage that her Salome took the world by storm.  Her two-week engagement stretched into 18 months and she became one of the most famous and wealthy female performers of her time.  Germany companies such as Kister and Galluba and Hofmann cashed in on Allan's fame by creating Salome figurines copied after a series of postcards Allan posed for. 

After her triumph in England, Allan went on to tour Europe and the United States, but already her fame was fading.  The fad for interpretative dance was passing and troupes such as the Ballet Russes were combining the freedom of interpretative dance with the discipline of ballet, creating a new, polished, and more challenging form of modern dance.  In 1918, Allan returned to England to star in Oscar Wilde's "Salome," and became enmeshed in an unsuccessful libel action that ultimately destroyed her reputation and career (for more information regarding the "Black Book" trial, I recommend Philip Hoare's book, Oscar Wilde's Last Stand).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 35

Ms. #400 and her sea-going swain clearly only have eyes for each other, and large googly ones at that.  This 4 inch tall bisque figurine of a plus-size sailor and his hefty honey is by the German firm of Schafer and Vater, and is incised on bottom with a faint Schafer sunburst mark and what appears to be  “126.”  Behind them is a small container for matches and toothpicks. Black ladies by Schafer are scarce to begin with, and this inter-racial pairing is indeed a rarity.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 34

Ms. #399 is a good-time gal from the German firm of Schafer and Vater, known for its portrayals of  boisterous belles in black stockings.  The 5.5 inch tall bisque vase (there is an opening behind the champagne glass) carries a faint imprint of Schafer's crowned sunburst on the bottom.  "Champange Girl" was one of the nicknames given to the very voluptuous stage star and comic actress Trixie Friganza.  Trixie began her stage career in musical comedies in 1889, but soon transferred her ample talents and figure to vaudeville.  She also had a brief career in early film, until health concerns forced her to retire.  Whether this vase was a tribute to Trixie or just any party girl is something known only to the long-departed designers of Schafer.

I will not be posting this Friday or Saturday, so please check back on Sunday!