Sunday, March 20, 2011

Collection: Porcelain Bathing Beauty Figurines

Bathing Beauty Mantel Piece (Private Collection)
These little porcelain dolls have been collectible for nearly a century. While some were just naughty dolls, others were souvenirs, vanity dishes and even aquarium figures. Many bathing beauties are built into pin dishes, ashtrays, cups and mugs. They can be found on lamp bases, flower frogs, pincushions and powder puffs as well. The peak era for these pretty little ladies coincided with the liberating times of the Art Deco and flapper years. 
Three Bathing Beauty Pin Dishes...or Ashtrays! (49.95 to $85.00 each
While these were primarily made of porcelain, they can be found made from plaster or chalk, metal of varying types, and art glass too. Although large numbers of the bathing beauties were made in Japan, the source for the most collectible pieces is Germany. Typical German beauties will cost twice a comparable "Made in Japan" lady. Other factors which affect price, sometimes by quite a lot, are size, quality of the paint and mold, and especially the positioning of the hands and arms. Arms fully away from the bather's body can raise the price by a factor of 5 to 10 times, or more.
German Beauty! ($95.00)
Cast Plaster Souvenir Bathing Beauty from Terre de Retz in France (Private Collection)
German Bathing Beauty atop a Powder Dish (Private Collection)
This Beauty is the Handle of a Cup ($125.00)
German Bisque Bathing Beauty on a Real Clam Shell ($85.00)
Probably America's most famous and well-loved bathing beauty was Esther Williams. In 1944, she starred with Red Skelton and Basil Rathbone, in the movie of that name, Bathing Beauty. This musical comedy was a big hit, not in small part to the bathing suit clad Ms Williams!
We have a small inventory of these relatively hard-to-find treasures. Click here to see what we have.

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