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, September 26, 2019

Yet More Barrison Sisters. . . .

The naughty bawdy vaudeville career of the Five Barrison Sisters was relatively brief, but, as can been seen on this blog, they were the inspiration for bevies of risqué bisque novelties.  This example has an exceptionally pretty face.  The detailed painting of the slightly intaglio eyes and the overall fine quality suggest to me that this lovely lass is by the German firm of Ernst Bohne Söhne.  Unmarked, she is 3.5 inches tall.

Although there may be a question concerning her maker, there is none regarding her identity.   Her pose and costume was clearly copied from the second sister on the left pictured on this 1895 cabinet card.

No doubt from the same maker and inspired by the same photograph, this bisque belle is 4 inches high.  She is the three-dimensional doppelgänger of the sister pictured on the far left.

She copies the pose even to the cigarette between her rosy lips.  However, in this case, the cigarette is actually a small metal tube.

The tube extends down into the figure's hollow interior.  It appears plausible that if a cone of smoldering incense was placed underneath, she would appear to smoke.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Stick It!

This intriguing reverse intaglio stickpin is another example of naughty novelty jewelry.  The image of a curvaceous diving belle on a rocky outcrop was carved into the flat back of a clear rock crystal cabochon and then painted with fine brushes, giving this marvelous miniature a glowing three-dimensional effect.  The carved cabochon is set in a 10 karat gold frame, sealed in the back to protect the delicate painting.  The stickpin itself is just 3.35 inches long.

Carving and painting these tiny treasures required great skill.  The technique originated in Belgium in the 1860s, but gained great popularity in Victorian England. The crystals can be found in a wide variety of jewelry for both men and women, including cuff links, watch fobs, brooches, and bracelets. The subjects were as varied as the settings, from sports such as hunting and fishing to natural themes such as flowers, butterflies, and birds. Horses and equestrian themes were popular, as were pampered pets such as dogs and cats.  However, rather risqué subjects such as this voluptuous bathing beauty are rare.  This type of carved crystal jewelry has been christened "Essex crystal" by antique dealers and collectors. The name appears to come from a mistaken attribution to William Essex (1784-1869). Essex was a skilled painter of miniature enamel work and was appointed as enamel-painter to Queen Victoria, but there is no evidence that Essex ever created such crystal gems.  These remarkable crystal creations were made through the early 1900s, but were replaced by mass-produced glass and plastic imitations, often in the form of inexpensive charms, which came into the market in the 1920s.