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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sitting on Pins and Needles

Although “naddelkissen” sounds like a Germanic term of endearment, it refers to the utilitarian pincushion. But, thanks to creative German manufacturers, utilitarian did not necessarily mean ordinary, and decorative pincushions, draped with delicate laces and dainty ribbons, were often topped with a delectable damsel of china or bisque, including beautiful bathing belles.

This extraordinary creation of felt, fringe and ribbon looks as bright as the day it left the factory. The crowning touch is the lovely lady by Galluba and Hofmann luxuriously lounging on its top. She has her original light brown mohair wig and is clad in a top of pale yellow ribbon and a short skirt of pink fringe, which matches her molded pink ballet-style bathing slippers. Protecting the modesty of her bosom is an elaborate garland of gold cord and blue silk ribbon. The four-inch long lass lies within a frame of gold braid and blue fringe, held in place by pins with colorful glass bead heads. The rest of the pincushion is almost as extravagant, with another circle of glass-headed pins, a band of brilliant red and blue ribbon, and a scalloped edge trimmed with a battalion of brass safety pins. The underside of blue felt is edged with a band of dark blue and bright red ribbon and the yellow ribbon forming the bell's bodice is tied underneath in a big bow. This is one knockout naddelkissen!

This china nude nymph perched on her original pincushion is by Gebruder Heubach and is pictured on a promotional postcard by the company, where she is called "Beim Aufsstehen" (when awakening). The nubile nude is 3 inches high and her art deco patterned pincushion pillow is 6.5 inches wide.

The prolific Hertwig and Company not only produced platoons of pincushion dolls, but also offered complete assemblies. This little raven-haired flapper in her scarlet swimming suit is attributed to Hertwig, and the company's catalogues show similar pincushions decorated with the same sort of thin striped ribbon. This diminutive damsel is 1.75 inches tall and is of good precolored china, and her petite pincushion adds another inch. The pincushion is stamped underneath in purple “Made in Germany.”

This bare bisque beauty is a known model by Hertwig. Only 2 inches long, this little lady is nearly dwarfed by her 6 inch long original oval pincushion, trimmed with fine lace and silk ribbon around edge. Made of sharp precolored bisque, this bare bather is incised "Germany" on edge of her right thigh.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Five Barrisons in Bisque

Blonde, buxom, and bawdy, the Five Barrison Sisters once billed themselves as the "wickedest girls in the world." Granted they were performing in the 1890s, when the bar for wickedness was pretty low, but the five sisters (and they were indeed siblings) tantalized and titillated music hall audiences in Europe and the United States with their on-stage naughtiness. Often dressed in girlish costumes, the sisters would warble songs full of double-entendres and sexual suggestiveness. In their most famous act, first performed at the Wintergarten in Berlin in 1896, the sisters, clad in long frilly dresses and babyish bonnets, sang about "Mein Klein Katz" (My Little Cat) as they slowly and slyly lifted up their skirts, exposing ten black stocking-clad legs. At the end of the song, the sisters flipped up their skirts, exposing their "pussies, " as strategically tucked into the crotch of each of their bloomers was a rather bewildered-looking live kitten. This is an early publicity picture, taken while they were touring Europe.

This theater card was obviously influenced by the photograph. Not only did the artist exercise a bit of license in applying the brilliant colors to the sister's skirts, he crowned the last sister in line with raven tresses, even though all five were blonde. On the back of the card is printed "Volks-Theater Nur Noch Bis 30. Juni.

Another copy of the photograph, this time in bisque. German porcelain companies were quick to cash in on any fad, as this piece from H. Hutschenreuther Porzellanfabrik demonstrates, German companies often copied popular prints, photographs, and postcards of the day, and it is doubtful the the sisters earned any royalties from Hutschenreuther's charming creation. This figurine of the five is 6 inches high. It is incised "3064" and is faintly stamped with the company's mark underneath.

This is a picture of the mark stamped underneath.