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, March 30, 2017

A Stunner by Carl Schneider

For a collector, just when you think you have seen everything, something completely new pops up! At first glance, this big (14.5 inches tall!) beautiful bisque belle appears to be a fashion lady by Galluba and Hofmann. However, her lovely face with its full cheeks and prominent chin is not typical of Galluba and her lower body and legs lack the details often found on a Galluba fashion lady, such as molded ribbed undergarments or high-button shoes.  The base and figure are molded in a single piece, while Galluba ladies were generally molded separately from their bases and subsequently attached with a bit of plaster. 

A closeup of her beautiful face. The mohair wig is original.

However, there is no mystery as to her maker, as she carries the "G" pierced by double arrows of Carl Schneider Erben. In all my years of collecting, I have never before seen such an example.

Although her face, slender arms, and graceful hands are beautifully modeled, below the waist all such delicate details are missing. Unlike Galluba, Schneider was not going to waste time and effort on parts that would be covered by clothing.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hand in Glove

I send to you a pair of gloves.
If you love me, 
Leave out the "G"
And make a pair of loves.
Throughout Western history, gloves have been associated with love. In the age of chivalry, a fair damsel might give her chosen knight a glove as a token of her love and fidelity, which he would proudly display in his belt or wear on his helmet.  Presenting a woman with a pair of fine gloves, especially if they were perfumed, was a sign of courtship and even betrothal.  The preceding poem appeared in Elizabethan times and continued to be quoted in some form in love notes and Valentine cards through the Edwardian era.  Perhaps this lithesome lady with her shy smile has just received the pair of gloves she holds from an ardent admirer.  Incised on the back of her base "406” and “E,” this  5.5 inch tall bisque belle is by the German firm of Galluba and Hofmann.  She wears her original brunette mohair wig and at one time would have been garbed in a fashionable Edwardian gown of real silk and lace to cover her molded undergarment.    

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New Article

My latest article, "Her Naughty Hula Hips," appears in the March 2017 edition of Antique Doll Collector magazine.  The article is a followup to my December 2016 article in that publication, "A Whistle and a Shimmy; Clockwork Carnival Dolls of the 1920s," which examined at the clockwork dancing dolls created by companies like Zaiden Toy Works for carnival concessionaires.  The new article contracts hula dolls created by Zaiden and Progressive Toy Company.  The title is from the song, "Keep Your Eye on Her Hands" by Tony Todaro and Liko Johnston, which was sung by Jane Russell in the 1956 movie, "The Revolt of Mamie Stover."

Whenever you're watching a hula girl dance 
You gotta be careful, you're tempting romance. 
Don't keep your eyes on her hips 
Her naughty hula hips,
Keep your eyes on the hands.

Remember she's telling a story to you, 
Her opu is swaying, but don't watch the view. 
Don't concentrate on the swing 
It doesn't mean a thing, 
Keep your eyes on the hands. 

And when she goes around the island 
Swinging hips so tantalizing, 
Just keep your eyes where they belong. 
Because the hula has a feeling 
That will send your senses reeling, 
It makes a weak man strong. 

Your eyes are revealing 
I'm fooling no one, 
No use in concealing 
We're having some fun. 

But if you're too young to date 
Or over ninety-eight,
Keep your eyes on the hands. 
They tell the story, 
Just keep your eyes on the hands.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Humorous Humidor

This humidor is hand painted on each side with a different bathing beauty striking a coy or comic pose.  The 7 inch tall container has a space under the lid for a moist sponge to keep the tobacco from drying out and is marked underneath with "B & Co. France," the mark of  L. Bernardaud and Company in the Limoges region.  It is also signed "L. Lemkuil," no doubt the painter of this porcelain piece.  Although the quality of the decoration is quite good, Lemkuil does not appear to have been a professional employed by Bernardaud, but was most likely a talented amateur who purchased the humidor as a blank.      

Lemkuil clearly copied the bawdy bathers from this series of postcards by French artist Xaiver Sager (1870-1930), one of the number of boudoir artists and illustrators who populated the pages of publications such as La Vie Parisienne, as well as innumerable postcards, with gorgeous gamines and kittenish coquettes.  This baigneuses series dates from the mid to late 1910s.