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, July 20, 2011

Collect Them All!: Sitzendorf Sea Siren Series

German manufacturers often produced a series of similar or related figurines. The challenge for the collector, of course, is to collect them all! This is a page from a 1929 catalogue of aquarium supplies from Grassyfork Fisheries, Inc. Entitled "Mermaid Combinations in Colors," the page offers "a new line of mermaid figurines mounted on representations of various forms of aquatic life imported by Grassyfork Fisheries." The figurines are said to be of bisque, "with attractive coloring and a luster finish of great beauty." Since luster is a glaze, the figurines would have to be of china, not bisque, but the catalogue often uses the terms interchangeably. Of the six figurines pictured, five are clearly not mermaids, but nude sea nymphs, their modesty ensured by a strategically placed drapery (or, in the case of the nubile nude on the crab, her own hands).

Here is the lady on the lobster. Of excellent china, and beautifully modeled, the figurine is 4.5 inches long and 3.25 inches high. The lobster has an airhole on his back and on top of the tail, which would release the air from inside the figurine when it was placed in the fish tank, preventing the figurine from floating and allowing the ornament to be anchored on the aquarium floor. Underneath the piece is incised "Ges. Gesch." and with the crowned "S" of the Sitzendorf Porcelain Factory. "Ges. Gesch" is short for "gesetzlich geschutzt," which means that patent rights have been granted and registered for the design.

This modest maiden has a right to be a bit crabby, as the "luster finish of great beauty" was not fired in and would slowly wash away when the piece was submerged in an aquarium. Her shelled steed shows such signs of wear on its shiny shell. Also incised with the Sitzendorf mark and "Ges. Gesch.," the piece is 3.5 inches high. Holes on each side of the crab's shell serve to release inside air.

This sea siren's starfish has lost almost all of its luster finish. There are airholes in the top of the starfish. Also 3.5 inches high, the piece is incised underneath with the Sitzendorf mark and "Ges. Gesch."

This femme's finny friend has retained its luster finish, showing how eye-catching the original coloring could be. There are small airholes in the fish's head and tail. Incised "Ges. Gesch.," the piece is 3.5 inches high and 4.25 inches long.

Toddling along on a turtle, this nude naiad is 4.25 inches long and is incised with the Sitzendorf mark and "Ges. Gesch."


  1. I've just found the missing one from the catalogue ( bottom left) mermaid sitting on a fish..would you like an image?

  2. Yes, I would really like to see a picture. I know that Sitzendorf made a series of flower frogs with mermaids, including one sitting on a fish.