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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.

Hertwig and Company Catalog (Updated November 14, 2022)

I recently acquired an original catalog from the German firm of Hertwig and Company. I hope to post the entire catalog, but at 50-odd pages, it will take some time to scan and upload.

Although the catalog is undated, it is most likely from the 1920s to 30s. The front cover reads "Gift Items Made of Porcelain and Fine Stoneware."



The catalog brags about the size of its factory, with over 700 employees. The use of German, French, English, and Spanish shows how wide a market this prolific company sought to serve.



The next three pages describe the many different styles of decoration found throughout the catalog.




The first objects on offer are a troupe delightful art deco dancing damsels (tänzerinnen).




For some reason "spitzenfiguren" was not included on the pages explaining the various available finishes. It means "lace figures," as the pieces are decorated with porcelain lace.  During the greenware stage, real lace was dipped in slip and draped on the figurine. When fired, the lace burned away, leaving a delicate porcelain shell.



These pieces, according to the section describing the various finishes, means "covered with forget-me-not flowers."



The animal and birds at the bottom of this page are autokühlerfiguren--hood ornaments! The others are figurines for vitrinen, for  displaying in vitrines or other showcases.



Release the hunden!



This page features ashtrays (aschschalen), pencil holders (bleistifthalter), and tischkartenhalter (place card holders). However, it also is the first page to feature badedamen (bathing ladies), in this case "auf echter muschel" (on real shell).



An entire page of pachyderms. . . .



Although legend has it that elephants fear mice, on the next page they calmly coexist. Oddly, they are also joined by Cupid balancing a yoke with two dangling hearts ("herzenträger" or heart bringer) as well as a band (kapelle) of babies.



Pincushions featuring art deco damsels decked out in bold rayon prints ("mit Kunstseide gekleidet").



More pincushion dolls, joined by fancy boxes for candy.



An entire page of kitchen and other accessories is next. There are tropfenfänger (drip) and deckelhalter (lid holder) for serving tea or coffee. The tropfenfänger fit over the spout with a little piece of sponge to catch errant drops while the deckelhalter kept the tea or coffee pot lid in place while pouring a cup. Also on offer are long spoons and straws for serving lemonade (limonadenrührer and röhrchen) as well as spoons for mixing chocolate (schokoladenlöffel). However, the final accessories are for fashion, not the tea party or coffee klatsch, consisting of tassels (quasten) for decorating ladies' umbrellas (damenschirm) and bags (taschen).



However, the next page brings us back to tableschmuck (table decorations), including knife rests (messerleger), more place card holders, described as decorative place card holders (tischkartenhalterverzierungen), and napkin holders (serviettenhalter).



In addition to more ashtrays and animals, this page also offers grammophonfiguren. In the early 1900s there was a fad for decorative figures or toys that would attach to a gramophone and "dance" as the record turned. These appear to have simply fit over the center spindle of the gramophone and would have rotated as the record turned.



Yet more ashtrays. These catalogs hark back to a time when cigarette smoking was an accepted, and even sophisticated, social activity.


Note the "Aschshale mit gekleideter Badedamen" (ashtray with dressed bathing beauties) on the bottom row. This is the same little lady that appeared a few pages earlier in the catalog as "auf echter muschel."


According to this catalog, whimsical place card holders are almost as popular an accessory as ashtrays. This page also carries salt and pepper shakers as well as "tischglocken" (table bells).



Yet more smoking accessories in the form of "zigarettentöter" (cigarette snuffers). There are also comical corks for your flaschen (bottles).



This page offers büsten (busts) for pincushions and tea cosies, although most of the lissome ladies are more than mere busts. There are "Damenkopf mit Zylinder" (lady heads with top hats),  as well as "Damenbüsten" with "Frisur" (wigs), "Puderquaste (powderpuff), and "Spiegel" (mirror).



This page offers eieruhren (egg timers) and messerschärfer (knife sharpeners). The sentence at the bottom of the page states that all egg timers are available only in fine stoneware.



Numerous gnomes populate the following pages.



Although modern collectors refer to these little figurines, decorated with "snow" made from tiny bits of ground bisque as "snow babies," the catalog lists them as winter sports figures and animals. The charming child figures are dubbed "Eskimo."





The next page features small decorative candleholders, perhaps for birthday candles on a cake, and numerous humorous gnomes, as well as a "Katzen-Kapelle" (cat band).



This page features Easter items and some rather random decorative figures, including cuddling kiddies, what appears to be a pair of odd aboriginal men in grass skirts, and an assortment of miniature buildings ranging from churches to teepees.



At first glance, this page appears to be Christmas and winter related items, but as so typical of this catalog, a few odd "figures" are thrown into the mix, including a Black cook ("Koch [Mulatte])," a witch with her cat ("Hexe mitt Katze"), and a couple of brownies ("Hutzelmännchen")--the elfish, not chocolatey cake, kind.



This page offers four different sets of themed figurines in special packages: Japan; a harbor scene ("Hafen-Szene"), Indian (East Asian, not Native American); and Egypt.



More sets, these all variations on nativity scenes.



This page refers to animals (tiere), birds (vögel), etc. That "etc." includes two lissome bathing beauties in slinky beach pajamas and wide-brimmed hats and a variety of figural place card holders. 




This page features American Indians oddly outfitted in marabou (marabufedern), as well as pincushion gift boxes (Nadelkissen in Geschenpackung), and the expansive "etc."  The Native American figures are clearly derived from Hertwig's standard bathing beauty molds, tweaked to add long braids and earrings. There are two dressed (gekleidete) "Damen" with moveable limbs (beweglichen gliedern); I have examples of these elusive long-legged lasses in my collection. 



The next page continues the rather arbitrary and haphazard cataloging of items. There are yet more lemonade straws, place card holders, and knife rests, alongside decorative corks (zeirkork), gramophone needler holders (grammophonnadelsucher), and decorations for covering picture nails (bildernagelschmuck).



The next section of the catalog offers earthenware products, beginning with two pages of very art deco vases.






Next are some delightful dogs, very realistically modeled.



More dogs and other animals, each carrying her young on a ribbon. The canines and felines on the center row also serve as pincushions.



These comic bottles are advertised for holding bath salts and liquor. One assumes not at the same time.



This page is yet another example of the unusual combination of inventory, offering both variety of trinket holders or powder boxes as well as egg cup stands.



Yet evermore smoking accessories, offering ashtrays and cigarette and match holders, some with whimsical animals.







Probably the least politically correct page in the catalog, captioned simply Negro ("Neger"). The page offers a variety of Black ladies in seductive poses as well as two pairs of children. All have exaggerated ethnic features and molded tufts of curly hair.  Most wear short skirts of raffia ("bastkleider"), necklaces made out of several strands of thin wire, and molded large disk earrings. The female models were clearly derived from the molds of Hertwig's bisque bathing beauty line. 



The next page features a bevy of bathing beauties and mermaids. Some of the bathers come "mit gemalten badeanzügen" (with painted bathing suits), nackt (naked), or, most intriguingly, "Badeanzug aus Gumi" (rubber bathing suits). Note how many of the bathing belle poses mirror those of the ladies on the preceding "Neger" page.



This page features bonbonsätze (candy sets) with schalen (dishes) and blumentöpfe (flower pots) of bisculoid, a form of imitation bisque. There are also schmuckschale (decorative bowl) and the ever-present smoking accessories, such as zigarettenschälter (cigarette holder) and zündholzhalter (match holder).



These are büsten (busts), or what collectors today call half dolls, to use on pincushions (nadelkissen) and tea cosy (teewärmer). Two appear to come with wigs ("haarfrisur" or hairstyle).



The next few pages deal with home decor, with deco-inspired lamp bases, complete lamps, and bookends.


























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