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.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Powder Puff Pierrette

This roguish redhead is already for the masquerade ball in her form-fitting Pierrette costume that not only shows off her shapely legs, but manages to flash a bit of bosom under the wide ruffled collar. The collar forms a small shallow dish and her head is a separate piece, sewn to the original down powder puff, so that she appears to wear a marabou boa. Of excellent china and 6.25 inches tall, this coquettish clown is unmarked, but her auburn hair and large amber eyes with smoky grey shading are all characteristic of the German firm of Fasold and Stauch. The little dish would not hold much powder, so perhaps it was meant for blush or rouge?


Friday, December 9, 2022

Badekinder Beach Boy

This 5.5-inch tall bisque boy is all fitted out for the beach in his original striped knit bathing suit. His bathing cap is of a stiffened oilcloth material and the tiny bundle tied to his right wrist may represent a sponge used for saltwater bathing.  He is of a type of unjointed doll known as a badekinder (bathing children) in German, or, as dubbed by American collectors, frozen Charlottes (or frozen Charlies for boys), a name inspired by the folk ballad of "Fair Charlotte." There are no visible markings, and most of these early badekinder are unmarked, but he is of excellent German quality.


Monday, November 28, 2022

The Catalog is Complete!

I have finished uploading the original Hertwig and Company catalog. I may go back and scan some of the earlier pages that did not photograph particularly well, but the entire catalog is now on-line.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Staying Afloat

This little bathing boy knows just how to keep his head above water. Of fine rosy bisque, beautifully modeled and decorated, and clad only in blue and white striped bathing trunks, this 4-inch long figurine is surprisingly lightweight for its size.

That is because this little beach boy is hollow, so when he is gently placed in water, he does the back float. Called badekinder (bathing children), they were produced in Germany as children’s playthings and bath toys. However, the delicate thin bisque shell could not tolerate too many knocks against the side of a bowl or bathtub, so few of these sweet little swimmers seem to have survived.


Monday, November 14, 2022

More Catalog Pages

In a race against software updates and driver glitches, I have added more pages to the Hertwig catalog. I have also scanned and reposted a couple of earlier pages that did not photograph well. After I have the entire catalog posted, software willing, I hope to go back and scan and post clearer images of some of the earlier pages.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Back to Cataloging the Catalog

More updates to the Hertwig catalog page. I had lost the ability to coordinate my old scanner with my somewhat less old laptop. Apparently every time I update my laptop software, I now to have to delete my current scanner driver and reinstall a newer version, when one becomes available. Currently, everything appears to be working again and I am approaching the end of the catalog. Guess I better scan and post those last few pages before the next software update.

Thursday, November 3, 2022


This week features another unusual piece of Japanese erotica, an obidome featuring a red coral carving of a nude woman framed by flowers, studded with tiny pearls. An obidome is a decorative slide used to ornament the front of the obijime, the cord used by Japanese women to help keep the wide sash or obi in place. Other than ornamental, the obidome serves no purpose. Legend traces the obidome to the class of female entertainers known as geisha, who, to honor a special patron or customer, slid his metal sword guard, called a tsuba, on her obijime. The geisha were the trendsetters of the day and soon women of all classes were using an ornamental slide to decorate the obijime. Some obidome are set with precious and semiprecious stones, and carved coral is a popular and traditional material. However, the other coral obidome I have seen are more innocuous subjects, such as koi or flowers like peonies or chrysanthemums. Considering that the obidome is displayed prominently on the front of the obi like a belt buckle, the choice of a nubile nude is rather surprising.

A view of the back of the obidome, displaying the slides for the obijime. Although the metal is unmarked, it tarnishes like silver. The obidome is 1.75 inches long.


Friday, October 21, 2022

Stunning Sosaku-Ningyo

This beautifully modeled and dressed doll is known as a sosaku-ningyo (creative or art doll). Beginning in the 1920s, some Japanese doll artists began to experiment with classical Japanese doll making techniques.

These artists used traditional doll-making methods and materials, like gofun, the smooth white porcelain-like finish made from ground oyster shells, to created art dolls that strove to be more natural and life-like. This bewitching bijin (beautiful woman) is 4.5 inches tall and comes dressed in her original miniature silk kimono. Although her arms appear to be slightly jointed (perhaps to aid in dressing her), the rest of her body is a single piece. The silk mat, which matches some of the material in her kimono, also appears to be original, and the miniature lantern came with her as well. This doll may date from the 1950s. 

She is exquisite from any angle. The sculpting and painting are very detailed, from her complex hairstyle to her serene face to the carefully delineated fingernails. The miniature kimono is perfectly tailored to fit her.

Now I know some are you are thinking yes, she is alluring and lovely, but why is she on this blog?  I do not want to try to undress her, for fear of damaging her silk kimono or the fragile gofun finish, but she is also anatomically correct. . . 

. . .very anatomically correct. There is a long tradition of exotic art in Japan. The shunga (spring pictures) were vivid and unashamed artistic depictions of sexual activity and pleasure, often portrayed with playfulness and humor. The development of woodblock printing allowed these enticing images to be reproduced and shared. Although officially banned, these woodblock prints were very popular and sold on the sly. Many of the famous artists of the day contributed to the genre and their creations are prized by connoisseurs. This delicate doll demonstrates the traditional Japanese merging of erotica and art.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Knittin' with a Kitten

Galluba and Hofmann is renown among collectors for its voluptuous bathing beauties and aristocratic fashion ladies, but the company also produced some charming children with all the same delicate details and fine workmanship it lavished on its lovely ladies. This endearing double figurine features a little girl  engaged in knitting while a boy stands in front of his school satchel. The boy appears to be lecturing from a large open book, but the girl is more interested in the antics of the cute kitten batting at the ball of yarn by her feet. Both wear their original light brown mohair wigs, the boy's with large curls and the girl's long and wavy with straight bangs. They have the typical Galluba intaglio blue eyes with black pupils and black and red lid lines and their parted slightly smiling coral lips reveal tiny molded teeth. The modeling is superb, from the children's rosy faces and graceful hands to the folds and ruffles in their outfits. Of excellent sharp bisque, this doubly delightful figurine is 3.5 inches wide, and 5.5 inches tall. 

Underneath the piece is stamped in black with the Galluba and Hofmann shield and incised "383." 


Thursday, September 8, 2022

What a Doll!

In addition to bathing beauty figurines, I also collect antique dolls, and this bright-eyed beach babe is a terrific tiny "two-fer." Her pink ribbed bathing suit is accessoried with matching bathing cap tied in a  big jaunty bow. Of excellent bisque and beautifully decorated, this 3.5 inch doll is jointed at the shoulders. She is incised on back between her shoulders “62-6Germany” with faint matching numbers inside each arm. 



Friday, August 26, 2022

Mit Bastkleidern

Recently I posted these pages from an original Hertwig and Company catalog. The pages are from the section of the catalog dealing with earthenware (feinsteingut) and the figures portrayed, women in a variety of provocative poses and several chubby children, are referred to as "Neger" (Negro). All have exaggerated ethnic features and molded tufts of curly hair. Most wear short "grass" skirts of raffia ("bastkleidern"), necklaces made out of several strands of thin wire, and molded large disk earrings. To our modern sensitivities these figures are shocking stereotypes, but they are a reflection of the attitudes of their era.

This all-original example from my collection is inventory number 4880 on the page, one of a pair. She is out of a light-weight material with painted dark skin and features and is 5 inches long.

These figures were clearly derived from molds used in Hertwig's series of precolored bisque bathing beauties.

Another all-original example, she is also one of a set, shown as inventory number 7116.

Again showing the family resemblance between these earthenware Black figures and Hertwig's pink bisque bathing beauties.

This figure corresponds to inventory number 7252 on the catalog page and was offered singly.

This standing example appears to be inventory number 7117 in the catalog.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

I'm Back

 . . . with more updates to the Hertwig catalog.

I have been doing some traveling, as well as being involved in some other projects, but I hope to get back to regular blogging starting this week.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Getting Bronzed

This languorous lass appears to be working on her tan, but she is already a beautiful golden bronze. Just 5 inches long, this sensual sculpture is exceptionally heavy for her size, making her a pulchritudinous paperweight for some gentleman's desk. She has a gilt patina, except for her bathing cap, which has a reddish tint. The sculpting is superb, from her supple curves to her bathing suit with its natty nautical collar to the ribbons on her ballet-style bathing slippers. 

Under her left hip is the "B" within an urn mark of the Viennese foundry of Franz Xaver Bergmann and "Austria."

Thursday, July 14, 2022

What are the Wild Waves Saying?

As they roll upon the shore
What are the wild waves saying?
As they roll in more and more
They seem to say "I adore you
And I want your love to share"

Bonnie Beach and Johnny Noble, 1937

Kneeling on a round powder box shaped like an oversize hassock, this bathing belle lifts a sizable snail shell to her ear, no doubt to hear the roar of the ocean's waves. Of excellent china, this beautiful box is six inches tall and wide. 

 This svelte collector of sea shells is superbly modeled. 

Incised underneath is the Sitzendorf Porcelain Factory crown and crosshatched "S" mark. The company appears to have created a series of seaside-inspired powder boxes, as this bathing beauty's crabby sister appeared earlier on this blog.


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Hamming it Up

This shapely sow spreads her swirling skirt, forming a small shallow dish for holding pins or trinkets. Her sly smile suggests that she has a secret.

Turn her over and she reveals two plump pink hams on the hoof. Of colorful glazed china, Ms. Piggie is three inches high and 4.5 inches wide.  The piece is incised "3812" on left edge of the skirt and marked "Germany" in black cursive on the back edge.  It is a rare raunchy example of the once popular pink pig fairings. Fairings were small inexpensive porcelain pieces, often featuring comical or satirical themes, typically given as prizes at fairs or sold as souvenirs from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s. Fairings were made in Germany by a number of companies. 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 glücksschweinchen (good luck pigs), often carrying a four leaf clover or leaping through a horseshoe. There is an entire genre of bisque and china fairings featuring pink pigs engaged in a wide variety of human activities. 

This glamorous gilt has the caption "Newport, RI" in faded gold cursive letters adorning the center of her skirt. Newport since the 1840s has been a resort for the wealthy and in 1875 was described as "the fashionable queen of all American watering resorts, for summer pleasure." It was not only the privileged who flocked to Newport to enjoy its beaches and mild summers, as it also became a destination for the middle and working class. This saucy sow was no doubt purchased as a souvenir of a summer excursion to the popular resort town.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Naughty and Nice

At first glance these pretty pin dishes seem nearly identical. Each is of excellent sharp bisque and portrays a beautiful bathing belle in a green bathing suit and matching bonnet rising from the waves. The lovely ladies are superbly sculpted, from their ruffled bonnets to their slim arms with graceful hands to the gently lapping whitecaps. However, turn them over and you discover that they are not quite identical twins. . . 

On one, the waters have parted to expose the bather's bare bottom, while on the other the ocean discretely keeps its secrets. Both dishes are about 4.75 inches wide; the modest maiden is incised "6352" underneath while the more daring damsel carries only an incised "5." 

A close up of the risqué sister. By tweaking an existing mold a manufacturer could appeal to different clientele without having to create an entirely new model. 


Friday, May 27, 2022

This September Morn is a Real Doll

As a collector, there is always that one piece you feel you really must have to fill a gap in your collection. Those who have followed this blog know that I have long lamented my lack of an elusive Galluba and Hofmann male bathing beauty (beach beau?). But there was one other bisque bathing beauty I longed to acquire, the rare all-bisque doll version of Grace Drayton's plump parody of Paul Chabas' famous (or in some histories, infamous) painting entitled "September Morn." While I still need a man, this little Miss Morn has joined her sisters in my display cases. Of good quality bisque, this 4-inch tall wide-eyed cutie is probably the smallest version of this scarce doll. The doll came in various sizes, the tallest I have seen being 7.5 inches.

She has her original, albeit faded, chest label reading "September Morning Germany."

A round label on the back declares that the design has been patented. There are no marks on the doll herself. On December 30, 1913, Drayton was granted a patent for a statuette; although the name "September Morn" does not appear, the patent drawing is clearly Drayton's comedic cartoon of Chabas' bare bather. The doll no doubt dates from this same period.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

More Pages Posted

 Slowly but surely the work on the Hertwig catalog continues with more pages posted.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Sunday, April 24, 2022

More Hertwig Catalog Updates

For those of you wondering what happened to the posting of the Hertwig and Company catalog, I was not happy with the way the photographs of the catalog were turning out, so I decided to try scanning some pages. However, I discovered that, thanks to the latest updates, my computer software no longer supported my scanner. Not wanting to toss a perfectly good scanner into the landfill, I sought out a work-around and after much frustration and Googling, I was finally able to find and download suitable software. Oh, the wonders of modern technology! Anyway, four new pages have been added. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

French Flirt

At first glance this big-eyed bathing belle appears to be another of the wide variety of chalkware or composition "beach dolls" which became so popular beginning in the late 1910s, such as the Splash Me dolls of Genevieve Pfeffer or the carnival cuties offered by S.K. Novelty Company. However, this googly-eyed coquette is made of excellent china. She wears her original, if somewhat disheveled, black wig (a windy day at the seaside no doubt) and is a sizable 8 inches tall. Beautifully hand painted, this little lass was not intended to be an inexpensive prize at some carnival concession. 

Underneath she carries the mark of Union Céramique, a porcelain factory founded in Limoges, France in 1908. The company closed in 1938.