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 25, 2012

Bathing Beauty of the Week


Ms. #490 is a lovely lorelei, probably by William Goebel.  Although her upper half is that of a warm-blooded woman, her legs are covered with blue scales and end in finned feet.  The earliest depictions of mermaids generally show them with this spilt tail, their scaly legs coiling like twin sea serpents.  The stylized mermaid in the Starbucks logo and the statue of the Little Mermaid in the harbor of Copenhagen are examples of split-tail mermaids.  Of good bisque and modeling, this undulating undine is 4.5 inches long and is unmarked. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Ms. #489 appears rather rattled by her rodent visitor.  Of excellent sharp bisque and by Schafer and Vater, this miss and her mischievous mouse are 3.5 inches tall and 4 inches wide.  Her light blue skirt billows out to form a small dish to holds pins or trinkets.  There are no marks.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Limber Lasses for Your Ashes

These athletic ladies adorning ashtrays are from the German firm of Weiss, K├╝hnert, and Company.

Here is a picture from the WKC catalogue, dating from the 1920s or 1930s. 

This flexible flapper is the same model as the ashtray pictured in the catalogue, second from the left.  She is incised underneath "Germany" and "6231," matching the catalogue model number.  While certainly charming,  this china piece, like many WKC products, is of average quality and the decoration is a bit hasty, with dabs of black from her heeled pumps running down her right calf.  Her facial painting is very simple, with one stroke brows, black eyes and  lid lines, and  bestung dark red lips.  She is 3.5 inches long and 3 inches high. 

This ashtray is incised underneath "Germany" and "6232," also matching her model number in the catalogue.  Painted in graceful script on one edge of the base is "A Present from Southend-on-Sea."  Southend is a British seaside resort in Essex, dating back to the Georgian era.  She is 4 inches long and 3.25 inches high.

The limber lasses, along with model #6230, began showing up as separate figurines, without their ashtray bases, shortly after the reunification of Germany, and were sold as antiques, although they were clearly modern creations.  Their quality was better than that of the WKC originals, with swimsuits that were a light solid color with a darker trim and tinted stockings; the ball in Model #6230 was often striped.    

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bathing Beauty(ies) of the Week

Misses #486 and #487 are sisters, still clad in their similar, but not identical, original silk dresses.  Big sister is 5.5 inches high, while her bookish little sister is 4.75 inches tall.  They both also have their original mohair wigs.  While the outfits are unfortunately frail and frayed, they still show how the maker, Galluba and Hofmann, dressed its fashionable ladies in the elegant gowns of real silk and lace.  Underneath the tattered finery are molded undergarments, and at one point this pretty pair must have been mounted on a bisque bases, or perhaps boxes or pincushions.  The larger lady is marked with a "400" number on the back of her supporting pedestal.          

Friday, July 6, 2012

What I did on my day off for the Fourth. . . .

. . . reorganized my small gallery of bathing beauty prints, pochoirs, and posters.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Graceful Ms. #483 is another delicate dancer from a series produced by Gebruder Heubach.  Heubach called this beautiful ballerina "Rose," and originally, adorned in a ribbon tutu, she posed atop a pincushion.  Of smooth pale bisque and beautifully modeled, she is 7 inches tall and unmarked.