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 16, 2020

A Bevy of Black Beauties

This coffee-colored cutie has had a few hard knocks in her long life, costing her a couple of fingers and a big toe, but she hasn't lost her big, bright smile.  Despite her dings, she is still a very desirable figurine, perhaps one of the scarcest members of the scarce series of black belles in skimpy chemises by the German firm of Schafer and Vater.  This delightful dusky damsel is 3.75 inches long and tall.  She is marked underneath with only a freehand "17" in black.  Her white chemise with green and white is worn by all her sisters in this series.  All the pieces in this series I have seen are of the same excellent sharp bisque with superb sculpting.


Her face is deeply detailed, from her flowing tresses to her tiny molded teeth.  The features are certainly ethnic, but not exaggerated.  


 The laughing lady with the coyly cocked head is exceptionally lovely from her wavy black hair to her delicate bare feet.  Again, her features are ethnic, but realistically modeled.  She is 3.5 inches tall and unmarked.   Her companion with the heart-shaped topknot has more exaggerated facial features, but she perhaps holds one of the prettiest poses, with a graceful hand curved modestly in front of her rounded bare shoulders and full breasts.  She is 3.75 inches high and is the only one in the series wearing a molded pink corset. The mocha-colored maiden is also unmarked, but another one I have in my collection is incised "3531."


This 5-inch long figurine has curly black molded hair and a soft shimmering coffee complexion, with beautifully modeled bare legs and feet.  She is marked only with a black painted "48" on the bottom.


While previously all the poses could be called playful, this miss strikes one that is a bit more prurient, cupping her bare left breast and patting her well-padded posterior.  Unmarked, she is 5.5 inches long.


Back to playful, this time with a perky pink piglet.  As well as lovely leggy ladies, Schafer produced a lot of pig figurines and on occasion combined the two.  This sweetie and her swine are 5.5 inches long.  It is incised underneath “3530,” but another example I had in my collection also carried the Schafer crown mark. As another lady from this set is incised "3531," this indicates that this may have been the number series for this line.


Another black belle from Schafer, but belonging to a different series.  She is simply one of the Schafer black-stockinged series of buxom blonds given dark hair and a light brown complexion.  She even has blue eyes!  These gals adjusting their garters are 4 inches high.


Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Barrow-son Sows-ters

Do a search for "Barrison" on this blog, and you will find a number of posts regarding the 5 Barrison Sisters, those voluptuous blond Danish-American siblings whose naughty bawdy vaudeville act briefly brought them fame, fortune, and notoriety in the 1890s.  German porcelain companies were quick to cash in on the Barrison's scandalous stardom, producing a variety of bisque figurines and novelties based on the infamous five.  These prancing piggies are probably the most unusual tribute (?) I have seen to the Barrisons. Their frilly green bonnets are similar to the girlish outfits often donned by the sisters in acts that mixed innocent antics with sexual double entendres.  And the sisters were never shy on stage about exposing their black stocking-clad legs.  Plus the caption "The 5 Sisters" emblazoned across the basket is pretty much a giveaway (the "Barrison" was no doubt left out because of copyright concerns.  German manufacturers were more than willing to be "inspired" by the Barrisons, but a lot less enthusiastic about paying them any royalties). Out of excellent bisque and beautifully modeled, this frisky fairing is 5.5 inches wide and 5 inches high.  Underneath it is stamped in black, "Made in Germany."



One wonders whether this is a comment on the sisters' sometimes tarnished reputations (or the fact that the sisters liked to ham it up onstage) or simply combining the Barrisons' popularity with another fad of the period, pink pig fairings.  Fairings were small inexpensive porcelain pieces, often featuring comical or satirical themes, given as prizes or sold as souvenirs at fairs from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Fairings were made in Germany by a number of companies.  Also in Germany, the pig is a sign of good luck and prosperity. A person who is lucky will say "Ich habe schwein gehabt" (I have had pig). Postcards and other empherma of the period featured gl├╝cksschweinchen (good luck pigs), often carrying a four leaf clover or leaping through a horseshoe.   It was traditional to give gifts of peppermint or marzipan gl├╝cksschweinchen at Christmas and New Years.  There is an entire genre of bisque and china fairings featuring pink pigs engaged in typically human activities, such as driving a car or proudly pushing a piglet in a pram.  Other fairings focused on the pig as a harbinger of good luck and wealth, such as piggies perched in a purse or peeking out of a money bag.   So this figurine may not so much be an editorial comment on the Barrisons as much as some German porcelain company designer telling his boss, "Hey, people are crazy about those Barrison Sisters and people just love pink pigs.  So if we can combine them, we will have a guaranteed hit on our hands!"