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.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Going for the Bronze. . . .

 I had put off posting because I was traveling with a friend to the United Federation of Doll Club's (UFDC) annual convention in Baltimore. Between the UFDC's sales room and the nearby Rowbear's National Doll Festival show, both featuring a bevy of the best doll dealers in the country, I had dreams of adding a number of new and unusual bathing beauties to my collection--perhaps even the ever elusive Galluba and Hofmann beach boy! I went ready to blow my carefully saved wad, but alas returned with my wad relatively intact. Lot of lovely dolls, but few bathing belles and none I did not already have example of in my collection.  So, with the Olympics in full swing, this post is going for the bronze. But the golden gal is certainly is a first place contender! She sits serenely in her wicker beach chair, trying the ribbon to her ballet-style beach slipper (while displaying a well-turned ankle).

Of gilt bronze, the piece is meticulously sculpted, capturing every tiny detail, from the ribbing of her bathing suit to the intricate weave of the wicker. 

The back of the beach chair is stamped with a stylized urn containing a "B" and a cursive signature “Nam Greb.” The urn mark is of the Viennese foundry of Franz Xaver Bergmann, which produced detailed bronze sculptures from the 1860s until 1936. "Nam Greb" is reverse of Bergmann's name (minus one "n"). Some collectors assert that the Nam Greb signature was used on the foundry's more erotic or exotic subjects, but considering that these pieces also often carry the Bergmann cartouche, Bergmann was certainly not trying to hide these works' origin.  This belle in a beach chair is 5 inches  tall.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

We Oughtter Get Into the Water

Won't you come and splash me, splash me,
In the ocean blue?
This is not the place to mash me, mash me,
But we oughtter get into the water!

Then when Percy said, "Oh,
Lou is that the thing to do?" 
She said, "Come along and splash me,
And I'll splash you!"

You Splash Me and I'll Splash You,
Alfred Solman and Arthur J. Lamb, 1907

This post features another pair of bronze beachgoers, engaging in a bit of frolicsome seaside shenanigans.  The man is carrying his buxom bathing belle to the edge of the stone on which they stand, no doubt to dunk the damsel in the sea. Although she struggles, their laughing expressions indicate it is all in good fun. Of gilt bronze with translucent cold-painted coloring, this 8-inch tall sculpture is superbly detailed, from the man's straw hat and his lady's tumbling tresses to the folds of their swimwear and the realistic modeling of their anatomy. Stamped on woman's left hip is a "B" in stylized urn, "Gesch," and "4133." The urn mark is of the Viennese foundry of Franz Xaver Bergmann, which produced fine quality bronze sculptures from the 1860s until 1936. "Gesch" is an abbreviation for "gesetzlich geschutzt," which means that patent rights have been granted and registered for the design.  I have seen another example of this scene with the couple cavorting on a bronze pier, which indicates the Bergmann offered this sightly risquĂ© revel on a number of different bases.