The collecting of antique fans is one of the most satisfying of hobbies, for a small collection of fans can comprise a museum in miniature. Specimens covering the period from the 16th century, when fans were first introduced into Europe from the East, up to Edwardian days include the work of carvers in ivory and wood, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl; the silversmith, the painter, the printer, the lace-maker, and the embroideress in sequins and silk. Pictured: A hand-painted and ivory fan, 18th century The sticks and guards pierced and gilded, the hand-painted leaf depicting figures in a rural scene, bordered with flowers, boxed, 26.5cm. Sold at Bonhams, Knowle, Dec 2011 for £312. Image Copyright Bonhams. Apart from its exquisite craftsmanship, the fan is inextricably tied up with the history of the country of its origin — especially in the case of France and England. Each period of history brought its own influence in costume and that included fans, since they were an important accessory of dress. Fans made for the ladies of the Court of the French King Louis XV were elaborately carved and of great richness. With the accession of Louis XVI there was greater restraint though still very elegant and costly fans were in great demand. The French Revolution brought the French fan trade near to disaster. With the Court gone, their wealthy clients having fled the country or been left penniless, many master fan-makers fled, too, to set up in business in England. Pictured: Antique Fans. Sold at Bonhams, Los Angeles,Jan 2009 for $195. Image Copyright Bonhams. The fan of the Empire period is as distinctive as those of the two Louis. Small — it rarely exceeds seven inches in length — it has an exceptionally broad leaf, usually made of some textile material, trimmed with sequins in many shapes — crescents, stars, flowers, leaves. The sequin embroidery of the period is particularly intricate. There are fans of heavy satin in sombre colours, breathing Victorianism; dainty, pretty bits of nonsense of lace and mother-of-pearl, as attractive and gay as the Edwardian ladies who used them. Pictured: A rare Recovery of George III from Illness Fan. Many 18th-century fans commemorated important events. They marked the births, marriages and deaths of well-known people, royal occasions or major social events. This fan celebrates George III’s recovery from illness in 1789. The simple, emblematic design includes the rose and thistle, symbolising the Union of Scotland and England by Act of Parliament in 1707. Above are the words, ‘Health is restored to ONE and happiness to Millions’. The fan may have been designed for ladies to carry at the great ball given at Court in 1789 to celebrate the king’s recovery. Image from the V&A Collections. For more information visit https://collections.vam.ac.uk/ © Victoria and Albert Museum, London To the serious collector the less beautiful fans with printed leaves are amongst the most interesting. Sticks and guards are simple, often of plain, undecorated wood. It is in the paper leaf that the interest lies. Many will be found to bear the name of the publisher in accordance with an Act of 1735. Many of these fans provide an interesting picture of the contemporary social and historical scene. Some record royal betrothals and marriages; occasions of national mourning or joy. A special fan was issued to express the joy of the nation on the recovery of George 111 in 1789. The Naval Fan of 1801 was published to celebrate the naval victories of the Nile and Copenhagen. There were opera and theatre fans, showing the arrangement of boxes and seats. There is no end to the subjects depicted on these fans. The collector in his search may not find the quest an easy one. Fans are such delicate, fragile things, not made for long life. It is surprising that so many have survived for two hundred and more years in perfect condition. But if the search is long and hard, results when they do come are infinitely rewarding. Pictured: Three late 18th/early 19th century fans. All with ivory sticks and handpainted paper leaves, one with painted sticks and leaf depicting a couple in a rural scene; one Canton export fan with ornately carved and pierced sticks and leaf depicting a European scene with Chinese influences; the third with plain sticks and leaf depicting a classical scene. Sold for £624 at Bonhams, Knowle, April 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams. There is a huge variety in fans: from fans of fabulous beauty, finely painted leaves on beautifully carved and gilded sticks, from the eighteenth century; feather fans vary from a tiny one of tortoiseshell edged with peacock’s feathers to a large screen-type fan in heart shape, composed entirely of feathers, decorated with sprays of roses (also made of feathers) and a stuffed humming bird. The first is from Vienna, the latter from Rio de Janeiro. Then there is beautiful Brussels lace in a design of flowers on sticks of honey-coloured pearl ; ivory finely carved in China, so delicate that it looks like frozen lace; a simple mourning fan of black paper on ebony sticks, but of special interest because it is telescopic, sliding up and down on its sticks, to become small enough to fit into the reticule, the handbag of ladies of its period — the early nineteenth century. A collection of antique fans would not really be complete without a brisé fan which were the work of the brothers Martin, who worked in Paris from the early to the mid-eighteenth century. These were particularly fashionable during the late Georgian and Regency periods. The brisé fan has wider sticks that overlap when open and are joined at the top by a ribbon or thread creating an effect similar to the pleated leaf of the folding fan. The Vernis Martin process of applying a fine colourless varnish to their work died with the brothers. Pictured: Four Chinese late 18th/early 19th century brisé fans ncluding a late 18th century example featuring a central swagged shield cartouche and two circular vignettes and a swagged design crossing all sticks, 21cm; two wedge-shaped fans, […]
Confessions of a Disney Fast F ood Toy Collector I thought I’d fill you in on why I collect Disney Happy Toy meals, and such. How I Started Collecting Disney Fast Food Toys ? I started my collection of Disney toys from McDonalds and Burger King gradually. Several years ago I purchased a Happy Meal and decided that the ‘free’ Thumper rabbit toy was well made and absolutely ‘darling’. I began to buy snacks until I had all of that set except Bambi. That really bugged me. I hung the Bambi toys on my Christmas tree. Years later I ran across the Aladdin toys at Burger King, and with a meal, I got, the wind up Genie. I was thrilled with the thing, and kept it on my desk at work. Next thing you know, I would just…happen…to buy one meal a week and got all of the set except Jafar. Then they had the Snow White Happy Meals at McDs. That did it. I then began to ‘collect’ with a passion. I have purchased every Disney toy, even those only loosely connected to Disney, such as Muppet sets, since then. Then I discovered that you can routinely find the toys at flea markets. I found my precious missing “Bambi” and “Jafar Toys”. I started prowling the markets picking up toys usually for .25 to 1.00 (at more knowlegable sellers). I ran into one ‘pirate’ lady who managed to sell to me several toys at $ 3 to $ 5 each! Those were for toys that predated myself purchased collection. Now here’s the kicker. As I broke down and admitted to people where I work – a State job – other collectors of Happy Meal Toys “Came out of the Closet”. Most are casual collectors, dabblers. Some are as hard core about it as I am. Why do I collect Disney Fast Food Toys ? Because they make me feel good. My childhood predates Happy Meals, I am 44. But they are cute, they are Disney, and how many people can indulge a harmless hobby for which they can even go ‘antique’ hunting when nearly broke?! I have gotten terrific days of toy hunting for which I spent less than one dollar! Lets see an ordinary, mundane antique hunter, do that. In conclusion, I once was disappointed to arrive at a Burger King to be told that they’d sold out of the wind-up Meeko toys (Pocahontas) days earlier. Another adult on line behind me, had an absolute hissy fit. Later on, outside of the restaurant, the man, looked to be in his 30’s, told me that he collected two toys from each fast food store, for EVERY promotion! I thought I was a ‘fanatic’ because I collect 2 toys from every Disney Promotion, just at BK and McD’s. I therefore believe that there are more adults out there, – closet collectors – than anyone suspects. Ask BK about their BK Lion King promotion here in Sacramento Believe me, wasn’t just kids buying THAT many toys! from Richard Eyman
One thing that often appeals to us collectors is a sense of order.
Maria Longworth Nichols Storer founded Rookwood Pottery in 1880 as a way to market her hobby – the painting of blank tableware.
1961 was the best of times. JFK and Jackie were in the White House, NASA was in space, Elvis was back from the Army, and Marx Disneykins were introduced on toyshop shelves throughout the Western world. Made of injection molded hard plastic and hand-painted by artists in British Hong Kong, each Disneykin figure was a perfectly packaged “miniature masterpiece” of postwar technology. Playfully packaged in bright candy-like boxes and intriguing shadow box scenes, Disneykins were a perfect cartoon fantasy universe unto themselves. Carried in pockets and schoolbook bags they could spring to life at a moment’s notice, providing hours of imaginative fun and make-believe. Disneykins embodied both the self-assured innocence of the times and the Walt Disney Productions’ cartoon mythology. The figures included representations of almost the entire Disney pantheon of toon stars, from everyday favorites like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Dumbo and Peter Pan (from the first series) – to more exotic personalities like Bongo the bear, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, Uncle Scrooge, Toby Tortoise, the Mad Hatter and Willie the Whale (from the second series) – to name a few. The Louis Marx Toy Company manufactured Disneykins from 1961 right up to the company’s demise in 1972-3. By the end of the line, the Marx Company had produced a large number of completely different Disneykins and Disneykin lines, with a total of over 160 figures at last count. Basically, Marx made a Disneykin representation of nearly every major character in a Disney animated film that was released (or re-released) during that twelve-year period. When combined, the original 1961 “First Series” of 34 figures (the most common Disneykins) and the rarer 36 “Second Series” figures (called “New” Disneykins) feature the major cartoon stars of PINOCCHIO, BAMBI, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, PETER PAN, SLEEPING BEAUTY and DUMBO. Other more film-specific Disneykin lines that followed were: the 1961 101 Dalmatians series (sold primarily in Europe and Great Britian), 1962’s Babes in Toyland series (soldiers and flats, in two sizes), Lady & the Tramp (1962), The Sword in the Stone (released in 1963 and only available as a large playset), 1967’s The Jungle Book, and closing with the scarce Robin Hood cartoon line in 1972. In addition, a special Pinocchio series was briefly marketed during the film’s 1962 re-release, as well as a separate Ludwig Von Drake series of figures and playsets which tied-in with both NBC & RCA and his Wonderful World of Color (NBC-TV) appearances. Featured products from the Disneykin era included many finely detailed, way-out miniaturized toys such as: The Lady & the Tramp Kennel Box Set — with the entire film’s cast of 12 dogs and cats in kennel windows. The Sword In The Stone Playset — a larger HO scale boxed playset, which included a castle, playmat, knights, Madame Mim and Merlin’s houses and the entire cast of character figures. The “See and Play” Disneykin Dreamhouse Playset (Marx/Montgomery Wards, 1968) — an intricate see-through 2 story suburban house, complete with landscaping, two cars, Disneykins, and all modern conveniences, including a 60s-era kitchen, gaudy dining room set, TV, carpeting, pool and even a bathroom). The 101 Dalmatians Playset line — which featured the film’s complete story, uniquely illustrated in six boxed playset scenes, with figures, props and furniture — which came in two different sizes. A Brief History Like many Marx toys from the 1960s, Disneykins were basically a recycled product, having their roots in the previous decade. Most of the Disneykin figures are essentially the “grandchildren” of the 38 soft-plastic, 60mm unpainted Disney character figures from the large scale Marx “Walt Disney Television Playhouse” (1953) along with the 13 additional character figures. The “kin” evolutionary path went through a few more essential steps — such as the metal hand-painted Linemar line, and the German, Holland and Japanese figures – before being miniaturized, hand-painted and rechristened “Disneykins.” They are essentially the same figures with the same poses – only the scale and materials differ. Disneykins were usually packaged and sold in four basic formats: Single figures – in little candy-colored individual boxes, with or without a window TV-Scenes – one or two figures and props in a small 3″ x 3″ television-like window display box. Playsets – larger, more elaborate window display boxes which housed five to eight figures in a stage-set scene, with furniture, props and a themed background. Gift Box – a large window display package which included all or most of the figures from an entire series, each in its own individual cubby hole with name ta g. This format is frequently misidentified as a store display. In addition, some Disneykin series included larger combo gift boxes of multiple playsets and TV-Scenes. The playset combo is called a Triple Playset and featured three separate playset scenes in one box, and the TV-Scene Gift Box included six separate TV-Scenes in one box. Again, these packaging formats are frequently misidentified as store displays. The ingenious, and confusing aspect of the Disneykin packaging was not only the large variety of interesting box formats and packaging used to sell (and re-sell) the same items, but the fact that a child would have to purchase nearly every playset in a line just to assemble one film’s cartoon cast. For example, in the First Series: The “Mickey Mouse & Friends” playset includes Peter Pan, the “Donald Duck Pier” playset has Captain Hook, and Tinkerbelle appears in the “Dumbo’s Circus” playset alongside Alice. In the Second Series it became even wierder: the “Lost Boys” playset features Flower the Skunk from Bambi, the “Lady & The Tramp” playset scene has the two clowns from Dumbo, the “Three Little Pigs” playset included Brer Fox standing in for the Big Bad Wolf, and the “Cinderella” scene box has Peter Pan’s Wendy masquerading as Cinderella alongside the Owl from Bambi. (Note: a Big Bad Wolfe figure was eventually produced in the early 1970s lineup, and Marx never made a specific Cinderella figure.) Although many of the Disneykin figures were available for over ten years […]
Everyone I know who has seen Wicked the Musical has become a massive fan. As with the original Wizard of Oz it has captured the public’s imagination and is now performed all over the world. The original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, and its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard. It’s full title is Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz had has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. There are some fans who have seen the show scores of times and many who have started to collect Wicked related merchandise, collectors items and collectables. We take a look at some of the items available to Wizomaniacs and look further at the Wicked phenomenon. The show is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which is an alternative telling of the original The Wizard of Oz film and L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Gregory Maguire has written a series of Wicked books which also include by Son of a Witch (published in September 2005), A Lion Among Men (published in October 2008), and Out of Oz (published in November 2011). Most fans and collectors first see the musical and then some discover the books. The original 1995 Gregory Maguire book has become quite desirable with 1st editions in good condition selling for upwards of £300. Signed copies fetch slightly more and some copies even have drawings by the writer himself. The book can be somewhat of a surprise to fans of musical as it dark, has serious political undertones, a lot of sex and some think does not show Elphaba in a good light. I read the book after seeing the musical and without going into an in depth analysis, although I was intrigued Maguire’s explanation of the history and origin of the Oz characters, I found parts disturbing. On a positive the musical came out of it. Wicked the Musical Dolls Doll companies love Wicked! It is full of strong female characters with colorful costumes and has the history of Oz behind it. Madame Alexander have created some wonderful re-creations of the characters notably Elphaba and Glinda in various situations and dress. Wicked the Musical Collectables The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas, and it includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum’s novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. Wicked the Musical Plush Toys A Wicked film is in production for release in 2019 which should see a massive increase and attention to the story and related merchandise. So start collecting now. Wicked the Musical 10th Anniversary A number of special editions were created for the 10th anniversary of the show.
Shelley Pottery and Shelley China Shelley China was adopted as trademark in 1910 by Percy Shelley, however the potteries heritage goes back nearly 100 years before that when in 1827 John Smith built a group of potteries which came to be known as the ‘Foley Potteries’. Pictured Shelley Pottery Vogue Pattern The factory was let to a partnership which included John King Knight who became the sole owner in 1847 and six years later in 1953 brought in Henry Wileman as a partner. Just three years after this Henry Wileman was left in charge when John King Knight retired. On the death of Henry Wileman, his two sons (James and Charles Wileman) took control of the pottery and later in 1870 James Wileman took full control. In 1872 he recruited Joseph Ball Shelley to work with him in developing the Foley China Works side of the Wileman business, with a particular view to developing export markets – the industrial revolution meant that transport and international trade was much easier than it had been, and Wileman and Shelley were not slow to understand the opportunities thus presented. It is from this period that the pottery really started to grow and prosper and it was the first time that the company had a registered trademark ‘Wileman & Co’. Export markets were to prove of vital importance to the factory during this period and the company even made specific designs for sale in North America and Canada after Percy Shelley visited the Chicago Exhibition of 1893. Percy Shelley joined the company in 1881 and with James Wileman retiring in 1884, the Shelleys were left in charge. The late 19th Century was a creative time for Wileman & Co, and under the guiding hand of Percy Shelley, Frederick Rhead was recruited in 1896 as Art Director and proceeded to produce some of the most innovative and creative work that was ever to come out of the Foley Works. Frederick Rhead was most famously responsible for the Intarsio and Urbato ranges, but he also contributed much to many of the patterns used for Shelley’s table wares of the same period. In the same year Rowland Morris sold his designs to Percy Shelley – including the eternally popular Dainty White shape – Shelley’s longest running design, popular from its introduction in 1896 right up until the close of the works in 1966. Unfortunately the first decade of the 20th century was a tough time, economically, and the pressures of two recessions and the growth of cheap imports meant that Shelley needed to concentrate on commercially safe products. In 1905 Frederick Rhead left Shelley, and Walter Slater was recruited to replace him. Walter Slater came from a strong and fairly traditional potteries background and proved an ideal replacement to guide Shelley through more difficult times and to leave his own lasting legacy of creative work. Today, Walter Slater designs, especially signed pieces, command strong values and remain popular with collectors. In 1910, the Shelley China mark was officially adopted by Shelley, and steady progress continued through that decade, despite the disruption caused by the war. After the end of WWI, Shelley family involvement in the company expanded to include three of Percy Shelley’s sons, and throughout the 1920s and 30s Shelley achieved steady growth and success, both at home and in export markets. Much of this success was down to methodical hard work and c lever marketing – Shelley, more than some manufacturers of the day, advertised and marketed its product extensively both to trade and to the public, and this had the effect of encouraging retailers to stock Shelley, as they could be confident the public would recognise and buy it, attracted to the stylish but affordable image of Shelley. Notable new ranges in the 1920s & 30s were the nursery wares in the mid-1920s – with designs by Mabel Lucie Attwell and the stylish Harmony ware ranges created by Eric Slater, all of which were to prove very successful and indeed collectable. Even the intervention of the second world war did not cause as many problems for Shelley as for some manufacturers – due to their very strong export profile, they were allowed to continue producing decorative wares for export to bring in much needed foreign exchange. It was not until after the war ended that problems started to become apparent for Shelley. As the 1950s progressed, Shelley’s new designs became less inspired and started to seem dated compared to contemporaries of the time such as Poole and Midwinter. New designs also seemed fewer and farther between. Part of the explanation for this might have been Shelley’s continued focus on their export markets – some of their older designs were still selling well to the North American market despite appearing outdated in the UK. Almost inevitably, in 1966 the end came with the buyout of Shelley by Allied British Potteries, who re-equipped Shelley’s works to produce Royal Albert pottery, marking the end of an era at the Foley China Works. Shelley Harmony Ware information and price guide
Collecting Communion Tokens and small Communion Tokens price guide. Communion tokens were round or oval in shape, and they were given to individuals who took communion in churches during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Presbyterian worship in Scotland is particularly associated with them, but they may also be found in England, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland. The Communion tokens were used to identify those who were entitled to receive Communion. The minister would give the person a token before giving them Communion. When Communion was being given, the individual would show the token to the Communion steward. There are a number of reasons why communion tokens were used. First, communion tokens ensured that only those who were members of the church and who had been properly instructed in the faith were able to receive Communion. This was important because Communion is a sacred act in which Christians partake of the body and blood of Christ. Second, communion tokens helped to prevent Communion from being taken by those who might not appreciate its significance or who might abuse it in some way. Finally, communion tokens served as a tangible reminder of an individual’s commitment to the Christian faith. Though communion tokens fell out of use in the 18th century, they remain an important part of Protestant and Calvinist history. Communion tokens remind us of the importance of maintaining a proper understanding of Communion and of our commitment to the Christian faith. They were also used as a means of identifying Communion members who had been away from the church for a period of time. They were also given to children when they were first admitted to communion. Often, these tokens would be made of metal or other durable materials and would be worn around the neck or on a keychain. The most common materials were metal, wood, and bone. In some cases, Communion Tokens were also made of other materials such as stone or glass. They could have holes in the centre and so could be strung together. Tokens were often engraved with a Christian symbol or the initials of the person who received the Communion Token. Communion tokens were collectibles even back then and people would try to get as many different ones as possible. There are many different types of communion tokens that can be found. Some have biblical scenes or symbols on them, while others have the name of the church or the year they were made. Messages on tokens would include biblical quotes such as ‘This Do In Remembrance of Me’ and ‘Let A Man Examine Himself’. Today, they are still collected by some people as a hobby and for the most part can be acquired fairly inexpensively.
Lowestoft Porcelain is a type of soft-paste porcelain that was produced in the town of Lowestoft in Suffolk, England. The porcelain was produced from 1757 to 1800/1802 and was known for its delicate painting and intricate decoration. The soft-paste porcelain used by the Lowestoft factory was a combination of local clay and a high level of bone ash. During the factory’s 45 year production period it produced a range of wares for which it has become well known for including motto ware, Lowestoft souvenir wares (many featuring the words ‘A Trifle from Lowestoft’), birth tablets, animals, and blue and white porcelain. The factory was actually the third longest lived soft paste porcelain company after Derby and Worcester. What is Soft-Paste Porcelain? – Soft paste porcelain is a type of porcelain that is characterized by its soft, chalky texture. It is made from a mix of clay, water, and other minerals, and it is typically white in color. Unlike hard-paste porcelain, soft-paste porcelain is not fired at a high temperature, which makes it more fragile and prone to breaking. However, soft-paste porcelain can be decorated with delicate details that are not possible with other types of porcelain. As a result, soft-paste porcelain has been used to create some of the most beautiful and intricate works of art. In Geoffrey A. Godden’s The Illustrated Guide to Lowestoft Porcelain he divides the production of pieces to pre-1770 blue and white porcelains and post-1770 porcelains. Although not reference another source suggests Early Lowestoft c. 1756-c. 1761, Middle-Period c. 1761-c. 1768 and Late-Period c. 1768 to factory closure in 1802. The main market for Lowestoft Porcelain is in East Anglia, where it was predominantly created and sold into the local market. Earlier pieces especially the blue and white are the most valuable and later pieces from 1770 are off lesser quality and often had more simplified scenes. Figures were made from 1780 including the very popular Lowestoft Cats and Lowestoft Pugs. Lowestoft Record Price at Auction The record price for a Lowestoft piece is by Bonhams who sold a flask from the Geoffrey Godden Collection of Blue and White Porcelain which sold for £24,000 in June 2010. The thinly potted and of flattened circular form with a cylindrical neck and slightly thickened rim, painted in blue with a ship-building scene, the boat flying two flags, a workman on deck and another on the beach beside it, the reverse with four ships sailing in choppy waters, the largest three-masted, its rigging carefully depicted, within borders of scrolls and husks, 14cm high (crazing and slight staining, rim chip). Related Lowestoft Porcelain Cats and Pugs Price Guide Bonhams record price for a Lowestoft Porcelain piece Lowestoft Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum
When it comes to design innovation, in my opinion the Italians have always gotten it right. Now this may be a piece of hand blown glass created on the Island of Murano, or a fashion garment that resembles a work of art rather than an everyday outfit. However, for me, the pinnacle was when I recently discovered the Art Deco ceramic offerings from the Italian Lenci factory. Renowned for their beautiful felt dolls which can realise hundreds of pounds from collectors, the Lenci ceramic figurines are also speedily gaining in popularity, thus finally commanding the reputation and respect that is so deserved. Although very little information is available about the Lenci factory, we are aware that it was established on 23rd April 1919 in Turin by Elena (Helen) Konig and Enrico Scavini. We are also know that the factories name ‘Lenci’ is an acronym from the Latin motto ‘Ludus Est Nobis Constanter Industria’ which translated means ‘Play is our constant work.’ Although some believe that Lenci was actually an Italianism of Elena’s pet name ‘Helenchen’ which her friends gave her whilst she lived in Germany. This explanation could also be the reason why Elena adopted the nickname ‘Madam Lenci’ by those who worked at the factory. However, in my mind it does not really matter where the name originated from as it is the actual products that Lenci created which are of far greater importance. In the first instance, the factory began with the production of felt dolls and decorative objects for the children. These dolls were meticulously executed as each was delicately hand painted and possessed a sense of refinement and sophistication rather than being every day playthings for children. The public adored the dolls and they were exhibited all over Europe starting with Zurich, then Paris, Rome and Milan. Even Mussolini congratulated Elena on her doll creations when they were on show at the Monza Biennial Exhibition and the famous entertainer Josephine Baker also fell in love with the dolls, so in return Elena created a special one in 1926 as a portrayal of the star. However, sadly with any production that gains great success and esteem there is the worry that other factories will jump on the bandwagon and create cheaper imitations. This is exactly what happened with the Lenci dolls. The cheaper competition was to be the cause of great financial troubles for Lenci and even though Elena had the opportunity to move production to Japan in order to keep the manufacturing costs down, she refused, and remained insistent that production should stay in Turin. In order for Elena to keep her company alive she made the wise decision to begin production in ceramic figurines. Ceramic production began in 1928 under the original founder’s guidance as Elena had already trained as a designer at Art School before her ma rriage to Enrico. Responsible for designing many of the ceramic pieces herself, Elena did however collaborate with the many other talented and skilled designers which were employed by Lenci such as Sandro Vacchetti, Giovanni Grande, Essevi and Jacobi. Together they worked on many different elements of design and created various ranges; although Elena’s remarkable talent ensured that she instilled the same sense of playfulness into each piece that was already evident in the Lenci doll designs. The ceramic figurines also carried much of the fashionable Art Deco style along with the individual designers own personal distinctive traits. Nudity had become extremely popular during the late 1920’s and 1930’s with the celebration of the female form and so Elena’s “Nudino” range was well received by the public. Supposedly modelled on herself, Elena and the other designers would incorporate the nude in various poses, although the nude girl would always carry the same boyish figural form of a typical 1920’s/1930’s woman. These particular nude designs have become highly regarded with collectors and can achieve thousands of pounds when sold at auction. Recently a nude figurine of a lady wearing a black & white chequered cap with a dog sitting at her knees dating to 1925 realised £1,600 at Bonhams, whilst a1930’s Elena Konig Scavini nude kneeling and wearing only a floppy sun hat sold for £1,000. Lenci frequently used the model of a nude girl on many designs with one of the most well known being that of a young woman either kneeling or sitting on the back of a Hippo or an elephant. Only last year I was fortunate enough in my capacity as an Auction Valuer to discover three rare Lenci pieces at a lady’s house in Essex with one of them being the ‘Nudino Su Ippopotamo’ (Nude on Hippo.) When sold under the hammer it achieved an astonishing £4,600 whilst one of the other pieces ‘Nude in Pond’ depicting a lady bathing in the water with geese and ducks made £1,900. However, the highest recorded auction price for one of Lenci’s nude figurines was achieved for the polychrome figure ‘Abissina’ which was designed by Sandro Vacchetti. This piece realised a staggering £38,400 when sold at Christies in 2005. Aside from the popular nude figurines many other clothed varieties were also produced in the Art Deco style nearly all of which were female figural pieces. “Day Dreaming” a figurine of a fully clothed young girl relaxing in an armchair was created in various colourways and the version depicting a lady wearing a red and white polka dot dress was the third piece that I discovered at the Essex home. When sold at Stacey’s Auctioneers it made a fantastic price of £3,600, proving that even those that are not scantily clad can still achieve remarkable prices. Throughout the 1930’s Lenci were prolific in producing many varied ceramic designs which mainly consisted of figural and animal subjects. The majority still held the Art Deco stylistic traits such as the lady standing on top of the Art Deco building although some such as ‘Angelita alla Corrida’ a pottery figure of a Spanish Dancer and ‘Testa Paesanella’ a bust of a […]