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.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fräulein Ondine

Previously this blog featured Miss Ondine, a mechanical "poupee nageuse" (swimming doll) patented in 1878 by Elie Martin.  That bathing belle has a French fashion head, so she could be dubbed Mademoiselle Ondine.  In that post, I noted that Miss Ondine is most commonly found (not that she is common!) with head by the German firm of Simon and Halbig. Here is the version with the Simon and Halbig head, mold #1079. 

Her body is identical to her French (and probably earlier) swimming sister.  She wears her original silk swimsuit, once blue, but now faded to ecru.  I have seen other models in the same bathing attire, in rose, blue, or white.

She winds underneath with a key, moving her arms and legs in a rather frantic and frog-like breaststroke.   Her cork body was advertised as waterproof and capable of floating in water.

Here Mademoiselle Ondine demonstrates her swimming skills.  I have her balanced on a globular glass candleholder, allowing her key to turn freely.