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, September 30, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 23

Ms. #383, admiring herself in her mirror, is a nubile nude by William Goebel.   Of fine bisque, she is 4.25 inches long and 3.25 inches high l bisque bathing beauty.  Her brown mohair wig is a replacement.  She is incised on her pate “739” over “C.” 

Goebel often "tweaked" a model to create a new version.  Here is the same pose with the scarce and highly desirable molded half mask, tinted stockings, and molded heels.  She has the remains of her original floss wig and is 4.5 inches long and 3.75 inches high. There is a freehand black "E" painted underneath.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 22

Ms. #382 is another luscious lass from the German firm of Galluba and Hofmann.  As large as she is lovely, this bisque belle is 5 inches long and 3.25 inches high.  She is dressed in her original, but fragile, costume, and there are no visible marks.  Her mohair wig is a replacement.  As is typical of Galluba, she displays the finest bisque, modeling, and decoration.

I will not be posting on Wednesday or Thursday, so please check back on Friday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 21

Ms. #381 is by the German firm of Ernst Bohne Söhne, and she carries the company's incised mark of an  anchor intersecting a “B.”  Of excellent bisque and decoration, she is 3.5 inches high.  The treatment of her hair is interesting, as she has applied bisque curls in the front and molded combmarked tresses in the back. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 20

Ms. #380 is a diminutive demure damsel from the German firm of Galluba and Hofmann.  Just 3.5 inches high, this standing lass is beautifully modeled from her delicate hands to her dainty feet in light blue pumps.  In addition to her garments (she probably was once adorned in Edwardian elegance), she has lost her original base, and someone made a new one for her.  Her mohair wig is a replacement.  Of excellent bisque, she is incised with what appears to be “420” on the back of her right thigh.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 19

Ms. #379 is a pretty mermaid with flowing tresses.  Mermaids might be called the original bathing beauties.  Of good china with nice decoration, this piece is 4 inches tall and 4.5 inches long.  Her finny friend is finished with a  pearl-like luster.  This mermaid has a split tail, with legs extending to her knees and finned feet, an early traditional way of portraying these sea sirens.  This piece is incised “5324 Germany” on  the back right side of the fish. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 18

Ms. #378  is a 2.75 inch tall bisque bathing beauty riding a 6.5 inch long china lobster.  Although she has lost her bathing suit, she retains her original light brown mohair wig.  From the German company of Galluba and Hofmann, the now-bare belle is incised on her back “407 C.e.”  Her shellfish steed  is stamped underneath with a faded shield mark of Galluba and Hofmann and is incised under the tail “9937.” 

This lovey lady and her lobster are pictured on this catalogue page from Galluba, on the second row from the bottom, second piece from the left.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 17

Perhaps the title should be "Bathing Beauties of the Day!" These two voluptuous belles engaging in a little seaside horseplay are a scarce double by  the German company of  Galluba and Hofmann.  Of superb bisque and modeling, this toothsome twosome is 5 inches tall and long.  They have long lost their original silk net bathing suits and caps to time, and their original mohair wigs were so disheveled,  I made them little hairnets of antique lace.  The pair is incised "356" under the  buttocks of the reclining woman.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 16

Ms. #376 is from my favorite German manufacturer,  A.W. Fr. Kister.  Although Kister's products have the same excellent bisque and workmanship as the ladies from Galluba and Hofmann, the sculpting of Kister's lovely lasses is more anatomically proportioned and realistic.  Their ladies have striking faces, with sultry "bedroom" eyes,  high cheekbones, and strong jaw and chin. She also displays a characteristic generally lacking on bathing belles from other companies, but is typical of Kister, molded and tinted nipples.  Her blue bathing shoes with the odd low heels are also a Kister characteristic.  Incised "3" under her hips, she is 5.5 inches long and 4 inches high.  She wears an old pale blonde mohair wig.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 15

#375 actually has two misses, each admiring, according to the caption, "A Very Fine View."  The wind whipping up the ladies' short skirts gives a fine view of a different sort.  Of excellent sharp bisque, this 3.75 inch tall comic bisque pin dish is by the German firm of Schafer and Vater, which often employed this sort of naughty wordplay.  The back is incised “3745.”

And here is the same figurine pictured in a Schafer and Vater catalogue page from 1920.  Note the model number is "3745."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 14

 Ms. #374 is a curvacous cutie in coral.  Of fine bisque and modeling, she is 5 inches tall.  Although unmarked, she is of Germany quality and was marketed as an aquarium ornament. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 13

 Ms. 373 is a rather demure damsel.  This 2.75 inch tall bisque nude wears her dark blonde hair in an unusual style, parted in center and coiled over each ear.  From an unknown maker, she is beautifully and realistically modeled, with her arms and legs free from her body, delicate hands with free thumbs, and well-detailed bare feet.  There are no marks. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 12

Ms. #372 is a china powder box adorned with a bisque bathing beauty by Galluba and Hofmann.  The 4 inch tall seated bather beauty wears her original dark blonde mohair wig and yellow net suit with pale yellow ribbon trim.  She has no visible marks, but her sea shell seat is incised “9641" on the bottom.  The lissome lass is attached to the top of the box with a wooden peg.  I dislike the term "rare," which is overused and abused in the world of antiques, but in all my years of collecting, I have come across only one other shell box and belle by Galluba.  In that example, the shell was larger and the reclining bather was pegged to the shell's lower edge.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 11

Ms. #369 is a power box by William Goebel.  Her severe flapper hair, elongated eyes, arched brows, white complexion, and beestung red lips recall silent movie star Louise Brooks. Of ceramic, the box is 4 inches long.  The box is incised and stamped underneath with the William Goebel crown mark and incised “Dep,” “T 579," and "3/0;" it is also faintly stamped  “Germany.” A ceramic cigarette protrudes from the opening between her scarlet lips.

The top of the box lifts off and the cigarette serves as the handle for small pale pink swansdown puff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 10

Ms.  #368 is from the German company of William Goebel.  She is 4.5 inches tall and is of excellent bisque and decoration.  She retains her original mohair wig, which, as is typical for Goebel, is a hank of mohair wrapped around her head and held in place at the  sides with pearl-headed pins.  These wigs are quite fragile and tend to unravel over time.  She has desirable tinted gray stockings and molded dark gray pumps with black trim.  Underneath, she is stamped in black "Germany" and painted with a freehand “k” under her left thigh.
Goebel made a number of variations of this mold, including a  barefoot nude with molded hair or a wig, a bathing belle in a molded tank suit, and the scarcest of all, this masked lady of mystery.  Also 4.5 inches tall,  Ms. #394 wears a molded black half-mask, and a black beauty spot adorns her right cheek. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 9

Ms. #367, from the German firm of Hertwig and Company, still wears her original mesh and ribbon outfit.   Of excellent bisque and modeling, this 6 inch tall delicate dancer is supported by a small vase behind her.  Both her arms and right leg are free from her body and her graceful hands have free thumbs.  The piece is incised on back of base “1764.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 8

 Ms. 366 is a slender sylph by the German company of Galluba and Hofmann.  Standing a statuesque 7.5 inches tall, she poses coyly on her pedestal, clad only in her black stockings and heeled pumps.  She is incised "405 M. m." on the bottom of the base and is stamped in red “Made in Germany.”   Her  mohair wig is a replacement.  She is of the finest bisque and decoration as is typical of Galluba.  These standing ladies are far scarcer than their reclining or seated sisters.  Not only did they require more skill to assemble and fire at the factory,  their dainty feet and delicate ankles are weak points and over the years many must have been broken. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 6, Redux

On Day 6, I introduced Ms. #364, and attributed her and her sisters, Ms. #363 and Ms. #365 (Days 5 and 7, respectively) to the German firm of Schafer and Vater.  Last night,  I remembered that a generous collector from Germany had once sent me a copy of a page from a 1920 Schafer catalogue.  I pulled out the page, and there was Ms. #364, affirming that Schafer was indeed her creator.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 7

Lucky seven is Ms. #365, joining Ms. #363 and Ms. #364 to form the last of this tantalizing trio by Schafer and Vater.  Unmarked, and of excellent bisque and modeling, this flirtatious flapper is 4.5 inch long.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day: Day 6

Ms. #364, a most limber lass, is undoubtedly a sister to Ms. #363.  Unmarked, but  most certainly from the German firm of Schafer and Vater, she is 3.5 inches tall.  She displays the same excellent sharp bisque and modeling as her previous sister.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 5

Ms. #363 is unmarked, but is certainly from the German firm of Schafer and Vater, which produced several series of boisterous blondes clad only in short white chemises, black stockings, and  heels. In addition to her scandalous state of undress, this widely-smiling flapper flaunts a cigarette!  Of excellent sharp bisque, she is 3.5 inches tall.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 4

In May, I blogged about the the Five Barrison Sisters, a vaudeville act from the 1890s that specialized in naughty antics and double entendres. Their most famous act consisted of the sisters, clad in childish frilly dresses, singing about "Mein Klein Katz" (My Little Cat), and ending the song by flipping up their skirts and exposing their "pussies," a kitten strategically tucked into the crotch of each of their ruffled knickers. Ms. 362 was undoubtedly inspired by the Barrison's act, even though her kitten is tucked into her bosom and not her bloomers. This 8 inch tall bisque figurine is dressed in a unique outfit identical to one worn by the sisters on stage, even down to the odd floral-adorned hat. There are no marks. Although the Barrisons were international stars in their short heyday, they are little known now, and one wonders how many Barrison-inspired figurines sit unidentified on antique store shelves and in collectors' curio cabinets.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 3

Ms. #361 is one of the scarcer, and probably one of the most most suggestive, poses by the the German firm of Galluba and Hofmann. She has her original mohair wig and is 4.5 inches long. Of excellent bisque and modeling, she is incised "406" followed by a cursive “H” on inside of her left thigh. There is a spot of slag on her right hip and another on her side. Such minor factory flaws would have been hidden by her silk net and ribbon bathing suit, now long lost to the years, and attest to her age and authenticity.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 2

Ms. #350 is a 5 inch tall china woman on chamberpot. Her dark blonde hair peeks out under a flowing light blue scarf and there is an opening on top of her head. Other than the scarf, she is dressed in a pale blue corset, white ruffled knee-length bloomers, black stockings and low-heeled slippers. Delicately painted and well modeled, she is of fine German quality, but there are no marks.

She has a salacious secret, because the bottom of her chamber pot is open, revealing her bare buttocks.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bathing Beauty of the Day; Day 1

I haven't posted anything lately, in part because I have just not been able to come up with any particularly edifying and novel theme. But then, since when has that ever stopped a blogger? So just to keep my finger in the blog pie until inspiration finally strikes, I am going to try to post a bathing beauty a day (more or less).

I catalogue all my ladies with a number. Here is Ms. #306. Although unmarked, I attribute her to the German firm of Hertwig and Company, who produced a series of nubile nudes posed on this same white bisque base. Of fine pale precolored bisque, she displays the extraordinary modeling found in so many of Hertwig's finer nudes. The slim hands have free and her beautifully sculpted athletic adolescent body has subtle blushing on the breasts, belly, and knees. She is now clad only in painted ballet slippers, but in the Hertwig catalogues, her sisters wore swimsuits of net and ribbon. She is fastened to the base wth a tiny screw through the sole of her right foot. Like many Hertwig products, the decoration is cold painted and subject to wear. This slender sylph is 6 inches tall.