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, July 24, 2015

Precious Pearls

A friend alerted me to this archival footage from the Library of Congress entitled "Birth of a Pearl."  The footage is by American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, dated 1903.  Ms. Pearl, clad only in a skin-tight maillot, was no doubt an extremely enticing sea siren in her day.

The is a definite resemblance between Ms. Pearl of the film and this bisque version. Incised "6641" on the back of the bottom shell, this precious pearl on the half shell is 5 inches wide. The top of the shell is a separate piece and these fragile lids often were broken or lost over the years.

Probably the most famous luscious lady found lounging within a lustrous seashell is Aphrodite or Venus, the Greek or Roman goddess of beauty, love, and desire, born of sea-foam.  This early version of Venus is from a mural in the Casa di Venus, found in the ruins of Pompeii.

Another version of a nubile nude encased in a shell by English painter Henry Courtney Selous, entitled the "Birth of Venus" and painted in 1852.

Venus meets vaudeville on this poster advertising Australian magician Jean Hugard's famous illusion, "Birth of a Sea Nymph," dating from the 1910s.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

More Brazen Hussies

This very happy hussy, holding high her wine glass, is of heavy bronze.  She has been cold painted to add a touch of color.  Although unmarked, she is most likely of Austrian or German origin.

As an added treat, this trollop's dress lifts off, exposing her ample, and very detailed, anatomy.  She is just over three inches high from the bottom of the chair to her uplifted glass.

And if that is not naughty enough, there is an opening underneath that would have once held an atomizer and a tiny hole between her legs for the escaping spray.

Another metal minx.  Her more slender shape and short tresses suggest she may date from the 1920s. Like the preceding Victorian vixen, she is superbly sculpted.  I have seen a similar figurine, with a removable metal fox fur that draped down her bare body.  Unmarked, she is 4.5 inches tall.

 She also has the connections for a hidden atomizer and a tiny hole between her legs.

These antique erotic bronzes are very collectible and reproductions have consequently appeared on the market.   There are high-quality reproductions from Austria, cast from the original molds and often cold painted, as well as poorer quality copies, often from China or India.  These latter pieces have blurred or missing details and clumsy sculpting.  In this modern copy, the lass has lost her glass, as well as her squirting capacity.  In this piece, not only does the dress lift off, but she can also be removed from her chair. 

Compared to the original, many of the details, such as the tassels of the chair or the tufted upholstery, are poorly rendered, if at all.  Note how in the copy, the woman's full figure has been slimmed down to appeal to more modern tastes and her face and form are rather stiff and roughly rendered.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for unscrupulous dealers to offer these new pieces as antiques.