Ms. #491 is yet another bathing beauty bottle by the German company of Schafer and Vater. This particular bottle is glazed in blue, but the same nifty nipper (because it holds a "nip" of alcohol) can also be found in brown glaze and tinted bisque. The double meaning caption is typical of Schafer, as "Life Preserver" could refer to either the inner tube on which the belle is balancing or to the booze within. Incised "4263," the bottle is 5 inches tall.
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.