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.


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