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, November 11, 2021

Beach Babe

This youthful bathing belle is all ready to enjoy a day of sun and sand while lounging in her beach chair. In her right hand she holds a molded apple for seaside snacking. Of precolored bisque and jointed only at the shoulders, she is molded into a sitting position. The entire assembly appears to be all original, including the miniature chair, which fits her perfectly. Just 3.5 inches tall, this chubby charmer is incised on the back "771 Germany." She is from the German firm of Hertwig and Company. Not only did this firm extensively use precolored bisque for its all-bisque dolls, bathing beauties, and similar novelties, Hertwig was a whiz at using inexpensive materials to make an attractive presentations. There was a lot of competition between German doll companies, each trying to come up with cost-effective ways to make their items more eye-catching to the consumer. Hertwig often cleverly clad its dolls in a few scraps of cheap material to make them more appealing. The molded hair loop holding a miniature rayon ribbon bow is typical of Hertwig, as is the little mesh bathing suit. 

The chair, which actually folds, is another example of Hertwig's imaginative use of a pennyworth (or perhaps more correctly pfennigworth) of material to make its merchandise more marketable. A few slats of lightweight wood and a thin strip of colorful material create a cunning toy chair that certainly would appeal to little girls, yet be inexpensive enough so that most parents could afford to be indulgent. Typically, Hertwig produced boy and girl pairs, so perhaps she has a male counterpart in his own little lounge. I could envision a display of these diminutive dolls in tiny chairs at some beachside or boardwalk souvenir shop.

The chair is faintly stamped "Germany."