Monthly Archives: April 2019

Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 2 – Rare Models and Marks

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Hi everyone! First off, I want to thank everyone for taking the time to educate themselves on authentic Walter Bosse hedgehogs and fake ones. When I first started off doing this, the fake Russsian and Aeroflot hedgehog ashtrays were selling for more than Bosse’s originals because everyone was incorrectly attributing those logos to him. Since then, Walter Bosse’s originals have made a big comeback! I am super grateful to everyone who has read my articles. And so I thought I should post another update since it has been such a long time.

Since the last time I posted, I have kept my eye out for any other interesting hedgehogs that can help add to Walter Bosse’s story. Turns out, I have found quite a bit more hedgehogs that I would like to share with you! Get ready for the updates below!

Walter Bosse Hedgehog with Berg Lubeck Sticker
Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtrayWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray

Update #1 : Berg Lübeck
This hedgehog was not found in a set, but by itself. Fortunately it still had the original sticker on the bottom. The sticker is brown with gold foil. It looks to be a later hedgehog in somewhat rough shape (unfortunately a spine broke off). After a bit of research I wasn’t able to find much except that Lübeck is a city in Northern Germany. I wasn’t able to find out what Berg was referring to (possibly a shop somewhere in Lübeck). There are a few other photos of stickers out there on other products (one on a glass decanter, one on a fat-lava pottery vase and one on porcelain dinnerware). I imagine this sticker may have been used at a store that sold fine art and housewares.
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray - Handmade in Austria
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray SetHandmade in Austria StickerWalter Bosse Hedgehog
Update #2 : Handmade in Austria
This hedgehog set is a pretty rough one, but it is a full set of 6. The baby has the incised X legs. It looks to be probably from the 60s or 70s. You may recognize the “Handmade in Austria” sticker from other Bosse items. It’s is gold foil and yellow ink and is usually loosely attached to the base of the castings. It is often found on his larger useful objects, such as table bells, thermometers and key racks. This sticker belongs to the casting company Kurt Jesch KG which did regular casting in Austria in the 1960s-current. They produced a large number of Bosse’s designs for him as well as their own designs (such as pendants, candlesticks, etc.). I have a feeling that these stickers could have originally been on more hedgehog sets, but because they were never attached very well they often fell off.
Weight : 1 lb 11.3 oz / 774 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray - Made in Germany
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray - Made in GermanyWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray - Made in GermanyWalter Bosse Hedgehog
Update #3 : Made in Germany Mark
I absolutely love this set, it’s one of my favorite versions. The casting is superb, with the nose is slightly turned up at the end, the eyes drilled proportionally and the polishing is subtle and feathered. The baby is detailed and has the elongated legs. All the trays with ears have them polished on the edges, which is also rare. The “Made in Germany” mark is very rare, I’ve only ever seen 2 other sets marked this way and they were of equal quality and early date.
Weight : 1 lb 13 oz / 824 grams
Size : 5″ long x 3″ wide x 3″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Hedgehog
Update #4 : Unmarked
I’m a big fan of this set. It’s probably one of the nicest sets I’ve come across and it’s completely unmarked. I believe it’s probably a earlier or mid career set. The finishing and patina is really nice and untouched (mostly black with a bit of brown tint). The baby has the elongated legs and good casting detail. Some of the eyes are drilled a bit funny, but that’s just character! It’s an excellent example of a standard Walter Bosse hedgehog set. 95% of all Bosse’s hedgehogs out there are unmarked, so don’t get discouraged if yours isn’t marked. As you will see in this post, a lot of these were marked with paper tags, which easily fall off over the years.
Weight : 1 lb 10.3 oz / 746 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 3″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray - DetailWalter Bosse Hedgehog AshtrayWalter Bosse Hedgehog
Update #5 : Berndorf / Atelier Jesch
So you know Jesch already from my post above, but this is a completely new logo / sticker that I’ve never seen before. It seems like it was most likely created for Berndorf company, which is still in business and using the same bear logo and wordmark. The sticker is white paper and reads “Berndorf / Creation Atelier Jesch / Messing Handgegossen / Brass Hand-casted / Kunsthandwerk Made in Austria / Artistical Handicraft, made in Austria”. The sticker also has a faint gold hand-print in the background. This hedgehog set is super terrible quality and I’m not sure why this would have been put out there as a product. The sand casting is really rough and a patina was never put on it, a practice which was usually only reserved for better castings because the black patina could hide more defects.  The set could have used a good grinding and polishing, but it looks like they only bothered polishing the noses. The baby is small and flat with incised X legs. My guess is that this set was created for sale at the Berndorf cutlery store in town in the 1970s. Highly polished sets are more rare because they took more time and effort to finish and polish to a high standard. This method of finishing the original raw brass (without patina) was much more time consuming and costly to produce. Patination could hide minor flaws but fine polishing had to be perfect.
Weight : 1 lb 9.3 oz / 716 grams
Size : 5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Copper Hedgehog Ashtray
Walter Bosse Copper Hedgehog Walter Bosse Hedgehog Colors
Update #6 : Copper / Bronze
This set is very interesting and I’m not sure what to make of it. When I first saw it, I thought the color was a bit off. Upon further inspection it is very different from the usual brass alloy that Bosse uses. It looks to be made of copper or a very copper-heavy mixture of bronze because it has a very reddish-orange tint. The weight feels different and the sound the metal makes when it clinks together is completely different as well. The black patina didn’t take to it very well, which may be due to the high copper content. It is unmarked. It looks like maybe it was an experimental model because the finishing is done very well and there is good attention to detail. The baby is finished very well and has elongated legs of the earlier models.
Weight : 1 lb 9 oz / 706 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 3″ tall

Walter Bosse XL Hedgehog Ashtray
Walter Bosse XL Hedgehog Ashtray Walter Bosse Hedgehog XL
Update #7 : Mega XL
I call this monster hedgehog because this set is insane and kind of ridiculous looking! I’ve only seen a few of these XL hedgehog ashtrays as they tend to be super rare. This one is definitely the biggest I’ve seen at around 21% bigger than normal. I’m not totally sure where they fit into the catalog but my guess is these larger sets might have been some of Bosse’s first models/prototypes as he refined the design over the years. Over time the hedgehogs got shorter spines and shorter noses as well as thinner walls overall. This guy is beefy and you can see how much bigger the baby is than a normal Bosse baby. You can differentiate these larger hedgehogs from their normal sized counterparts due to their extra long spines. This one could have been a copy by another artist, but because the techniques for casting and patination so closely resemble Bosse’s authentic sets I’m inclined to rule in favor of authenticity.
Weight : 2 lb 7 oz / 1106 grams
Size : 5.75″ long x 3.25″ wide x 3.25″ tall

Walter Bosse Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Aluminum Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
Update #8 : Aluminum
I posted about this in the last update but I thought I’d share more details about it here. This guy is extremely lightweight and made of aluminum with a black paint applied and ground off. It’s not very highly polished and has quite a bit of wire brushing on it. The quality of the casting isn’t great and can be a bit sharp. The baby is flat and squat with just X incised legs. It’s quite rare, but most likely because it wasn’t a great idea.
Weight : 8.4 oz / 238 grams
Size : 5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse German Silver Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse German Silver HedgehogWalter Bosse German Silver Hedgehog
Update #9 : German Silver / Nickel
This is another one I posted in the previous update. It is made of “German Silver” or “Nickel Silver” which is a copper alloy with the usual formulation of 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. It is definitely from the same molds as the originals and is the same size and consistency as the others. It is also very heavy (unlike the aluminum ones). This set is extremely rare, I’ve only seen 1 other one. It is unmarked and the quality is very high. It is highly finished and polished and the baby is good quality overall with X incised legs. My guess is this is an experiment in plating with nickel over brass. Hagenauer often plated his figurines in nickel and Bosse actually plated some of his pottery in his early years to make them heavier for use as bookends.
Weight : 1 lb 11.4 oz / 776 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Cast Iron Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Cast Iron Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Cast Iron Hedgehog Ashtrays
Update #10 : Cast Iron
This set is super heavy and very crude. But it is quite a bit harder to get detailed casting out of cast iron and it shows here. Cast iron is also more brittle and some spines are missing as well as some chunks of overcasting. These were not ground down or polished in any way. They come out of the mold looking very much like they do now. I have seen 2 or 3 of these sets lately but they are still quite rare. If you look in Bosse’s catalog you can find a mention of the use of cast iron but I have not ever seen any other examples of his use of cast iron in any other context. The baby in this set has the X-incised legs. As you can see, Bosse liked to experiment with other materials and finishing methods and I suspect this is another one if his experiments with different casting materials. Not many were made because they were difficult to control with the sand casting method they were using. It is consistent with Bosse’s other hedgehogs because it has the same exact size and proportions as his classic hedgehogs in brass, indicating the same master mold was used to cast it. That is why I believe it is authentic and not fake.
Weight : 1 lb 8.4 oz / 694 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 3″ tall

Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays

UPDATE #11 – Steel Set
This set of hedgehogs is highly magnetic and (I believe) made of some kind of steel but seems to have black paint applied instead of a patina, or at least a glossy coat of lacquer applied over the black patina. This model seems to be an attempt to try and get the look of the  rich-black patina of a solid brass set of hedgehog ashtrays. It looks to have light polishing on the tips of the spines and nose. In some spots, orange rust from the steel shows through the black. The baby of this set is also identical to an authentic brass baby from a hedgehog set. I believe this set to be some kind of experimental model, not made for production.


Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse M. In Germany Mark
Update #12 : SDL
This mark is something I’ve seen a few times and this set has the clearest iteration. It seems to have a very faint “SDL” mark on the bottom, similar to a number of Bosse’s later German cast objects. I’ve included a photo of a Scottie egg cup with the a similar incised mark. Sometimes, only just a hint of 3 areas of indent can be seen on the bottom of certain hedgehogs, but I believe it is from the same SDL mold. The SDL most likely refers to the master’s catalog name/number for internal use only and not really meant to make it into production. The mark looks like it was originally incised into the master used, and therefore made its way into the mold. In each subsequent casting, the mark gets more and more faint, and also varies with the quality of the sand casting and mold. This set has good quality casting and “baby” with X-incised legs.
Weight : 1 lb 11.3 oz / 774 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays

Update #13
I discovered in an old Bosse catalog page that you could purchase each hedgehog dish separately if you desired. So although the majority of hedgehog ashtrays out there were sold together as sets, sometimes people purchased only the individual pieces they wanted. So if you have an incomplete set or just one piece, don’t feel bad… it may have been purchased that way! I’ve also heard a number of stories from people whose grandparents had a set of hedgehogs and each family member took a dish from the set to keep as a memento. I don’t think Bosse would have minded his sets being split up for that reason. After all, the hedgehogs were meant to be shared with friends and guests at parties.

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Short Nose
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Short Nose
Walter Bosse hedgehogs short nose
Update #14 : Short Nose Set (3/2021)
This set is similar to the standard later 1960s set, with the later x-leg baby, except it has a shorter nose than the earlier sets. My current theory is that the master for this set was possibly edited to be shorter to fit specific casting equipment. I’m currently ruling out the theory that the nose had a bubble in it or was broken and they just ground it down to make it sale-able for a few reasons:
1) The pebbled sand casting texture is retained on the surface and if they had to grind off large parts you would see telltale signs of grinding/tooling in the texture.
2) The nose is not only shorter, but also less wide. If you look below at the comparison pictures of the short-nose and normal sets you can see the difference. If the original nose was lopped off at the same length on the original set, it would be far wider at the very end. That paired with the pebbled casting texture makes me believe the master was edited before going into the mold.
3) The slope under the chin is changed as well. Instead of going straight down continuously, it slopes up before going back down and continuing into the slop on the underside.

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Made in Germany

Update #15 : Made in Germany Mark (Stacked) (3/2021)
This set of hedgehogs courtesy of Pigeon Tree Crafting has a super interesting “Made in Germany” mark that I have never seen before. Thank you to Pigeon Tree for allowing me to use their images in this post! The marking is stacked instead of straight across. It looks like the set has some really interesting characteristics and my theory is that the set is probably older, from the 1960s or even 70s. The spines are a little bit sharper and the polishing is similarly sharp. The baby has the X legs.

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Drilled Ears
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Drilled Ears
UPDATE #16 – Gold with Drilled Ears
This funky set of hedgehogs has the ears drilled out on the largest hedgehog. I was really on the fence about liking this set when I first bought it because the ear drilling is kinda weird, but once it arrived I really warmed to it. This is really one of my favorite all-gold polished sets. The quality of the set is great and seems to be from the earlier molds. It has a pretty smooth finish and minimal casting flaws. The baby has fully formed legs and is well detailed. I’m not sure what went into the decision to drill holes in the ears. They could have been trying to cover up some holes/flaws from casting and make it look intentional. Or it could just be whoever was working on this set decided to take some artistic license. Regardless, I like the overall feel of this set. I wonder if there are any other sets out there with the ears drilled like this one?
Weight : 1 lb 12.6 oz / 810 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Sharp Spines
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Sharp SpinesWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Sharp Spines

UPDATE #17 – Sharp-Spine Set (3/2021)
I mentioned in previous posts that I might be coming around on these sharp-spine sets. I don’t usually like to buy them because it’s kind of the luck-of-the-draw with these sets. You never know if they are going to be good or bad quality until you have it in your hands. So it’s really important if you’re buying one of these sets to see lots of photos and ask questions. I figured I’d post a set here that I found particularly nice so you can get an idea of what a good one looks like. This one has a baby with fully formed legs (they can also have X-legs). All 3 larger hedgehogs have polished ears, spines and nose with that sharp hard-line polishing. The spines are also sharper and can be squared off on the top instead of rounded. The black patina is also super shiny and dark black. These sets are usually from later in Bosse’s life, in the 1960s and even into the 1970s. They are possibly even made after his lifetime because of casting firms making these to pay off his debts to them. It’s really impossible to tell the difference between sets he knew about and ones he didn’t. Regardless of all that, they can be great solid sets!
Weight : 1 lb 10.7 oz / 756 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.5″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Küster-Ferry/Terry/Perry
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Küster-Ferry/Terry/PerryWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Küster-Ferry/Terry/PerryWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Küster-Ferry/Terry/Perry
UPDATE #17 – Küster-Ferry/Terry/Perry Sticker
For this set, I can find absolutely nothing out about the name on the sticker and nothing comes up when I do a search, which is really rare these days. This set has a super matte-black patina that is really dark. The polishing is a bit funky too, the gold on the nose almost makes it look like it is glowing from within. The baby has fully formed legs and the eyes are drilled up pretty high like a lot of early hedgehog sets. Overall I really like it and it is good quality with the exception a misplaced drilled eye or two, the gash above the ear on the big hedgehog and the baby having a bit of a sandy texture and no eyes. It’s got character! I imagine this sticker was probably used by some department store or souvenir store/art gallery.
Weight : 1 lb 11.6 oz / 784 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Borkenhagen Siegen Sticker
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Borkenhagen Siegen i./W Kunsthandwerk u. Mode
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - BabyWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Baby
Borkenhagen Kunsthandwerk und ModeBorkenhagen Kunsthandwerk und Mode
UPDATE #18 – “Borkenhagen Siegen i./W Kunsthandwerk u. Mode” Sticker
This hedgehog set has a grey-black super matte patina with really subtle polishing on the brass. It looks to be an earlier set from the length of the nose on the largest set and the casting quality is very nice. The baby is kind of funny and doesn’t have X-legs, but actually only has one line to delineate between front and back legs. My searches on this sticker turned up a promotional pocket calendar/postcard for the store from 1964. From the photo it looks as if this was a department store that sold fine housewares. Pretty awesome to find an actual photo of the outside of the store where this hedgehog ashtray was sold! Who knows, maybe it is even in the window somewhere. Unfortunately the store doesn’t exist anymore. I also was able to find one other sticker on a piece of West German pottery of the same era.
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - All Ears

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Baby with Ears Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Baby with 4 spines Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Baby with Ears
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - All EarsWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - All Ears
UPDATE #19 – All Ears! (3/2021)
This set is so interesting! Have you ever wondered what the hedgehogs would look like if they all had ears instead of just the 3 largest hedgehogs? Well here’s your chance to see it! Yes, the baby of the set also has little tiny ears too. The baby is what makes this set so distinct and recognizable because instead of the standard 3 in-line spikes running down its back, it has 4 spiky dots arranged in a diamond pattern in the middle of its back. In addition to having ears added to the last 3 smallest hedgehogs, all the ears have been made more 3-dimensional. The casting quality of the set is superb and the polishing is well executed. The patina is a slightly shiny brown-black like early sets. Overall it’s a chunkier set and a bit heavier than the others, with the legs on each hedgie being slightly shorter than usual. I’m really charmed by the character of each hedgehog and am inclined to think this set is authentic. The reason being that all the hedgehogs have the same exact look as the originals, just with extra bits and bobs added on. It feels like an artist playing around with adding more detail and dimension to an otherwise flat set.

Walter Bosse Hedgehogs

At this point I hear y’all asking me “why the heck are there so many molds and masters for the hedgehogs?” The only thing I can say is these were Bosse’s most popular designs and after he moved to Germany, giving up all his casting equipment, he had to work with outside casting firms and each place had their own way of doing things.  These hedgehogs were passed around, being made by different casters. I imagine, masters were made and edited for each manufacturer’s process, giving each piece a unique quality. There is something magical about all the vintage hedgehogs. Each has a unique character imbued either by someone’s deliberate artistic choices or even by mistakes and flaws. The way they have aged over time and loved by their previous owners is shown in the patinas of each hedgehog uniquely.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope this info is helpful to everyone. Keep in mind, these are the more rare models so don’t get discouraged if your hedgehog set doesn’t look like these. If there’s any info I’ve left out or if I have made an error please email me. I will continue updating this post with new information and hedgehogs as I get them, so keep an eye on this post for more updates. Keep on collecting!

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