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.

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.

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