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, April 10, 2013

Bathing Beauty of the Week

Peeking out shyly from her curtained wicker beach chair, this little bathing belle was a recent find at a local estate sale.  Across the top of the chair is a cursive  caption, "Houston, Tex."  She is part of a large and varied family of souvenir bathing beauties, charming little china trinkets made in Germany, and bearing the name of some city, often not one generally associated with sunny beaches or seaside frolics.  She is just three inches tall and is incised on the back "5483 Germany." 

Some more of the souvenir sorority.  These little ladies are generally well done for this type of novelty memento and they can be found in a colorful and wide variety.  Although they are authentic antique German bathing beauties, these souvenir bathers are surprising affordable.   A delightful and diverse collection could be formed just from these sweet souvenirs.

WARNINGMundial Company of Belgium is issuing copies of some of these little souvenir swimmers.  Look at HR228 and HR229 and the HR886-1B through HR933-3 under "Baigneuses."  HR228 and HR229 have crests for Barry Island and Yarmouth, rather than cursive captions.  The other series is a fantasy combination of angular ashtrays and various bathing belles, carrying printed captions for resorts in France and Italy.  As is typical for this company, the items do not carry any marks indicating that they are new items manufactured in Belgium.

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