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.

Hertwig's Extraordinary Anthropomorphic Animals (Updated June 18, 2020)

In addition to bathing beauties, I also collect German and French all-bisque dolls.  I want to share some of my favorite all-bisque dolls, a scarce series of adorable anthropomorphic all-bisque dolls from Hertwig and Company.  Perhaps the most common of this series, if  such a word can be properly applied to these elusive treasures, are the teddy bears.  The bears come in a variety of sizes and their coat colors range from golden brown to gray.  This appealing pair, clad in their original crocheted clothing, are 2.25 inches tall.  There are no visible marks and the boy bear has his right paw pierced, so that he could hold a small object.  Like most of the Hertwig animals, they are wire jointed at the shoulders and hips.  The bisque and modeling are typically of good quality.

Recently Baby Bear, only 1.25 inches tall, came to join Mama and Papa Bear.  Here the reunited Bear family is being visited by a repentant Goldilocks.  "Goldie," also by Hertwig, is 2.75 inches tall and wears her original crocheted outfit.  

This bear in his bright blue bowler is still bound in his original box.  The matching blue slippers with their white pom-poms are a standard style found on many Hertwig all-bisque dolls.  This dapper dandy walks his goggle-eyed pooch and holds a small metal cane in his pierced right paw.  He is 2.5 inches tall and there are no visible marks.

Bunnies must have vied with the bears in popularity, as they are among the most frequently found animals.  Mr. Cottontail is a towering 2.5 inches tall, while Mama Rabbit is a petite 2.25 inches, and Bunny Jr. is just 1.75 inches high.  Although there are no visible marks on father and son, the mother has a vertical "Germany" incised down her back.

This bunny in pink booties is an interesting variation.   His lower legs resemble the pudgy limbs of a human toddler.

Another family grouping, these monkeys range from 2.25 inches for the parent primates, 1.75 inches for the middle-size monks, and 1.25 for the smallest simians.  They are wear their original crocheted costumes and there are no visible marks.  Note that the monkey clad in red and yellow standing on the barrel has a matching hat, which is just glued on top of his head.  Such head wear could be easily lost over the years, so it is possible some of the other monkeys may have once had hats.  

Two duck families.  Here Mama Duck looks back with adoration at her darling duckling.  She has a crocheted bonnet and a shirt that matches that of the duckling.  The pattern of "Papa" duck's blue shirt is identical to Mama's, so it is possible "he" also once wore a bonnet.  These ducks differ from most of the Hertwig bestiary, as they have molded stiff legs and their wings are loop strung.  The parent ducks are 2.25 inches tall, and the duckling is 1.75 inches high.  They are not marked.

In this duck family, there is no mistaking Papa, who wears not only a jaunty molded cap, but also a fabric collar with a pink ribbon tie.  Mama has a molded sun bonnet and a ribbon bow about her neck.  She is the only one of the duck flock that does not have brown eyes, just black pupils.  Junior sports a fabric collar like Papa's, with a cloth bow tie.  There is a faint number under his feet that may be "5711."  The ducklings are the same size, but the molded headgear makes these bigger ducks a towering 2.5 inches tall. 

Three ducks even more diminutive than the flock above.  Just 1.5 inches tall, each sports different molded headgear and accessories.  Although unmarked, they are by Hertwig, who specialized in miniature figures.   They are a mixture of fired and cold-painted coloring. 

Comparing the duck in the orange cap to the Daddy duck demonstrates that their poses and caps are nearly identical.  The main difference is that the diminutive duck sports a molded scarf while Daddy has a cloth collar. 

The similarities between Mama duck and the petite version in the purple bonnet are also striking.

I always thought it was interesting that most of the Hertwig animals in my collection came from England and wondered if perhaps Hertwig was inspired by illustrator and author Beatrix Potter's charming animal characters.  The English would have been a ready market for bisque versions of their beloved Potter characters.  Certainly Potter's Jemima Puddle-Duck appears to be the inspiration for this itty-bitty bird.

Another bisque bird, this scholarly-looking raven also has loop-strung wings. His silvery legs and feet, which match his molded spectacles, are made of soft metal, which is easily bent or broken, and the legs are just glued into channels in the body. This is the only example I have found of a metal-limbed bird and I suspect that this model was not successful because of the time and expense the metal legs added to manufacturing and their fragility and susceptibility to loss. Perhaps after another shipment was returned to the factory because of bent or missing legs, Hertwig announced "Nevermore!" He is 2 inches tall and is unmarked.

Maybe this pink piggie looks so pleased because he has retained his jaunty beret over the years. He should also bring a smile to any collector's face, because this plump porker is one of the harder animals to find. This happy ham is 2.5 inches tall and there are no visible marks.

Although not by Hertwig, or even made in Germany, this happy hatted hog is so unusual that I added him to my menagerie. He is incised on back with the Maruyama Toki Yamashiro Ryuhei “peace sign” mark and “Made in Japan,” and is 4.5 inches tall when seated.  Maruyama was in business during the 1920s and 30s. The Walt Disney cartoon “The Three Little Pigs” came out in 1933 and was very popular. Some Japanese companies made Three Little Pig figurines under the Disney license, but other companies created their own comic pig characters in an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the cartoon. I think this doll was one of those attempts.  The modeling, bisque, and decoration are superior to most of the bisque dolls and figures produced in Japan around this time.

Mister Froggy, holding a bright red blossom in his hand, looks like he is ready to go a-courtin'.  This adorable amphibian is all original, even to his fabric flower, and 2.25 inches.  Although his arms are jointed at the shoulders, he has pillar legs.  There are no visible marks.  

A pair of marvelous mice, each 2.5 inches tall.  They both have holes in their bottoms that may have once held string tails.  The rodent in faded blue and white wears a crocheted outfit taken from a broken Hertwig rabbit, but the other is all original.  Neither are marked.

Any collector would go nuts over this sweet squirrel, another elusive animal from the Hertwig zoo.  Only her arms are jointed.  Unmarked, she is 2.25 inches tall.

Linda Greenfield, a collector in England who has a menagerie of 63 of these delightful dolls, has generously shared this picture from her enviable collection.  She also has a squirrel, hers colored a rich reddish-brown.  Actually, this coloring is far more authentic, because the model for the mold was obviously the endearing Eurasian red squirrel with its tufted ears.

Linda's red squirrel closely resembles Beatrix Potter's naughty little Squirrel Nutkin

The Hertwig cats are the only members of the series that I have come across that have glass eyes.  Any collector should consider finding these black cats only good luck!  They have green glass eyes and molded slippers with pom-poms.  Although there are no visible marks on the boy kitten, his feline friend has a vertical "Germany" incised down her back, and there is a channel that may have once held a string tail.  These cute kitties are 2.25 inches tall.

After many years of waiting, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Katz have adopted Tommy Jr.  Although this cute kitten is a mere 1.5 inches tall, he has all the details of his proud papa, from his tightly crocheted shirt and pants to his bright glass eyes (although yellow to his father's green).  

More cats, this time in gray with amber glass eyes.  They are all 2.25 inches tall and each girl cat is also incised with the vertical "Germany" and has a channels for a tail.

Here the famous feline, Puss-in-Boots, prepares to snatch a plump young hare that he will send to the king to win favor for his master (although not if the bigger bunny behind him has anything to say in the matter!).  Puss' legs with their molded black boots are stiff, while his arms are jointed at the shoulders.  He is 2.25 inches tall with no visible marks.

A pair of odd anthropomorphic cats from Hertwig.  Both are frozen and wear a tall cylindrical hat of fabric stretched over a spring with bisque brim; the high hats can be compressed and hold squeakers, now nonfunctioning.  Each is incised “Germany” on the back and is 3.5 inches tall.  

Another generous collector has shared this adorable owl.  He has glass eyes similar to those used in the cats and is dressed in fabric, rather than crochet.  A very rare bird, indeed!

These are all the types of Hertwig anthropomorphic all-bisque dolls I have been fortunate to come across in my years of collecting.  If anyone else has examples of other animals from this series, please let me know!

REPRODUCTION WARNING!Mundial Company (aka Keralouve) of Belgium has reproduced the pig and the mouse.  The reproductions are of decent quality, but much of the finer detail is blurred, the limbs and body are thick and shapeless, and the facial painting is heavy and stiff.  If you compare the Mundial animals with the authentic antiques, you will immediately and clearly see the differences.  However, like all Mundial products, the pig and mouse do not carry any marks indicating that they are reproductions.  They are popping up at flea markets and antique shows, usually smeared with dust and even provided with rust marks to give them the appearance of age.  Unfortunately, because the antique originals of these little animals are so rare, many dealers and collectors have never had a chance to handle the real deal and could be fooled by these modern fakes.

Mundial no longer pictures its these new "antique" all-bisque dolls on its website (but you can still see some of these dolls on its website and Facebook page), but even if it is no longer making all-bisque dolls, these modern fakes will continue to haunt dealers and collectors for many years to come.

The loss of detail is very evident in the blurred facial features and poorly modeled bodies with dumpy torsos and thick limbs.  The mouse is missing her pink muzzle and the pig his cheerful grin.  Typical of these reproductions, the dolls have been artificially aged, complete with rust stains.  Because these dolls are so scarce, few dealers or collectors have had a chance to examine the authentic antiques, and these fakes, despite their poor quality, therefore could fool someone coming across one at a flea market or online auction. 

This little child dressed up as a bunny is copy by Mundial of another Hertwig doll.  This bunny child  is found in different sizes  and is turning up frequently in antiques and flea markets and on online auctions.  Even though this doll  is technically not part of  Hertwig's series of anthropomorphic animals, it is close enough and I wanted to post pictures as a  warning to other collectors.

FAKES WARNING!:  The antique doll market is being flooded with what I call "Frankendolls," new dolls cobbled together out of old excavated parts.  You can read more about them on my page, The Curse of Frankendoll.  Many of these Frankendolls are being fitted with animal heads and offered as rare antiques.  Below is a typical no-neck Frankendoll with a cat head that a friend of mine recently bought, thinking it was an antique.  Note the wire coming through the top of the head. 

Because the arms and legs come from different dolls, the match and fit between the body and limbs are poor.  In addition, the excavated pieces often have stains, rust, and dings from being buried in the ground for decades that even cleaning, bleaching, and recoloring cannot entirely remove.  Some dealers hide all these defects by clothing the dolls in costumes of felt or vintage-looking material, sometimes even offering dolls in their "original" boxes.  Below is a group of these animal head Frankendolls outfitted in felt.  Cutely costumed, the dolls are quite appealing, and I have no issue with them being sold as craft or artistic creations.  However, they are NOT antique and they are NOT rare and they are NOT created by Hertwig!  A doll made out of antique parts is not an antique and a fantasy creation is not an authentic rare doll!

German companies did produced some swivel neck animal dolls, but with a few very rare exceptions, such as the Rag and Tag all-bisque cat and dog dolls designed by Georgene Averill, they had a bisque head on a composition body.  This comical character kitty getting acquainted with her smaller Hertwig cousins is by Gebruder Heubach.  The head is bisque and the crude composition body is textured to resemble fur.  She wears her original dress.  The head is incised on the neck with the square Heubach mark and "3/0" and "9103."   

This incredibly cute kitten is the rare Tag by Averill.  He is the only all-bisque animal doll I know of (and, of course, his canine companion, Rag) that has a swivel neck.  He is strung like a typical German all-bisque doll with a swivel neck--the limbs have molded loops for elastic and the elastic from the legs is pulled through a neck plug (this ensures that the head and legs fit snuggly in the sockets).  No wires, especially coming out of the top of his head!  He is 5 inches tall and incised on the back, “TAG TRADE MARK Copyright by George Averill 891 Germany," “891/90” is incised inside each limb and “891” on the front of the neck rim.   I believe his eyes, although appropriate, are replacements.  A picture of an identical Tag in the Winter 2011 edition of "Doll News" shows him with green glass eyes with a vertical pupil, but the eyes are more opaque and the pupil narrower.  The eyes in mine are set, and I think the eyes in the original Tag and Rag were weighted sleep eyes.


  1. Fabulous post!!! Just LOVE

  2. want a black cat now really really bad!

  3. Hi,
    I have linked this excellent blog in my most recent two vlogs on Youtube in which Hertwig Bears and Dolls were featured.

    1. I watched your videos. Very interesting! Thanks for the link!

  4. These are wonderful!! I have many Hertwigs but none of the animals...yet...

  5. love your work about pets keep it up ....nice blog Gracias!

    Black Cat Breeds