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Monthly Archives: June 2019
After a bit of research looking through our company catalog (which we lovingly refer to as the “Bible”), we came across a page of sketches that seemed to be called “Baroques”. We instantly recognized that the sketches matched animals we have in our museum collection. So we felt like we should put together a post about them because they tend to differ a bit from the overall catalog of Bosse offerings. So lets do a deep dive into the catalog page and some of the items below.
The characteristics the Baroque items all seem to share are:
- Simple short squat legs positioned in elegant poses.
- Plump (zaftig) bodies
- Fully polished (never with black patina)
- Slightly larger size than most Bosse figurines (3″ long/tall on average)
- Usually unmarked (or we have one marked with an early “Bosse Austria” mark)
- Slightly more stylized features (realistic detailed hair, eyes with eyelids, etc.)
Here are all of the Walter Bosse Baroque animals in our collection:
We also really see some similarities to an early Walter Bosse pottery horse we have in the collection as well. See our Instagram comparison post here.
So our conclusion is, these were probably early models of Bosse’s work when he was experimenting with brass and transitioning over from Pottery work to brass work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They represent a quality of casting and workmanship that is consistent with his early work and thus, they are sketched quite early in the pages of the “Bible” catalog. See more detailed photos of the catalog pages below:
So you have what you think is a Walter Bosse design, but it is all-gold and doesn’t have an applied black patina. Does that mean it is fake? Not necessarily! Generally there were two factors that led to an item receiving the all-gold “fully polished” treatment. We will outline those two methods below:
- The most common fully polished items are usually Walter Bosse’s larger and useful objects made later in his life while he was living in Germany. In the late 1950s until his death in the 70s Walter Bosse was living and working in Germany (leaving his original Austrian company to Herta Baller). He ended up fleeing to Germany because of debts he had in Austria and then started over (in Germany) with all new designs. Since he had no money, he contracted out to other companies to do all the casting for him if he provided the designs. Unfortunately, he ended up not paying some of those casting companies for their work and they started to produce and sell his designs on their own without his authorization (in order to recoup his debt owed to them). Consequently, the patina was a tricky process and the casting firms didn’t always know how to do it correctly. If you do it too long, the patina turns green or greyish. If you don’t do it long enough it turns brown. If you don’t fully clean the oils off, you can get spots that resist the etching process and looks blotchy. So in a lot of cases, these casting firms ended up just leaving the patina off entirely.
So how do you know if your item is from this era in Walter Bosse’s life? Items from this particular period usually have rougher looking surfaces. The sand casting process was a lot less precise and often resulted in larger casting flaws and a sandy texture. But it was great for producing larger objects at cheaper prices. Generally these types of items that were possibly cast without Bosse’s knowledge are thought of as Bosse designs because they are using the same masters and molds. It is really impossible to prove whether these were authorized or unauthorized pieces.
See some examples of his German fully-polished work:
- The less common fully-polished items are those that were selected to be polished because they were finely cast. It was somewhat rare but not uncommon for Bosse to fully polish items himself and not put a patina on if the casting quality of an item was pretty high. You will see very early models with an all-gold finish, often marked with the large “Bosse Austria” mark. Items had to be ground down and partially polished anyway before applying the patina. So sometimes if an if an item came out looking particularly nice, it was selected to be finely polished. The acid-etching patina process could hide small flaws in the casting process.
See some examples below of his early fully-polished work:
The story of this bell has more of a happy ending than some of the other miss-attributions we’ve seen. Thanks to our friends Sal Robinson and Wayne Meadows for finding a copy of an original sales catalog from Richard Rohac’s workshop. We are now able to confirm this bell is made by Richard Rohac! If you are interested in learning about Bosse, Rohac, Hagenauer and more in the context of their corkscrew designs, go pick up their book “AUSTRIAN FIGURAL CORKSCREW DESIGN: AUBÖCK · BOSSE · HAGENAUER · ROHAC” (ISBN 978-0-9689294-1-4).
Check out the original catalog page below!
And there it is, #64 on page 55 of his catalog! These bells are often unmarked and we’re not sure why except that there isn’t a lot of flat surface are to put a mark on and you’d probably only get a partial mark out of it if you tried to stamp it.
A little background about Richard Rohac. He worked at Werkstätte Hagenauer for a period of time, refining his technique. In the 1950s/60s he branched out and started his own company (see the front of his original catalog below). His works are rendered in a more realistic style and are extremely finely cast and finished. He worked in brass in the Modern Viennese Bronze style with acid-etched black patina with polished gold highlights. They are often marked with two R’s (RR) with their backs facing each other. He also used a secondary mark “Made in Austria” stacked and set in a slight oval shape.
We’ve seen this donkey holder with salt and pepper shakers all over the place! Generally, these donkeys are made of metal coated with paint, with wooden salt and pepper pots resting on brass wire rings. The brass wire rings are attached to a piece of metal that rests in the middle of the donkey’s back like a saddle and are riveted in place. We have also seen versions of these donkeys pulling wooden carts with matching wooden spoons/scoops. They look to be used as salt cellars. It has quite often been attributed to Bosse but it just so happens it is NOT made by him. We’ll outline the details why below!
- These donkeys seem to be made of a white/silver metal (which Bosse did not work in) and coated in a black paint or enamel. As a result, the black paint tends to chip off in little flakes, revealing the metal underneath. If you are not sure and want to test what the metal is, it’s a good idea to pick an inconspicuous place like the bottom of one of the feet and do a small test scratch. Generally, if the metal is silver, it is not Bosse!
- The donkey has no polishing points and is just solid black. Bosse liked to use the play between matte black and shiny polished brass to highlight areas of design on his animals. He either fully polished or acid etched a patina and highlighted with polishing, but he never left items with a full patina and no polishing. Often times, you will find vintage Bosse brass items that look all black, but if you look closely, you can see the original areas of polishing.
- The design of the donkey is similar to Bosse, but not the same. The design of the legs and tail are too thin.
This donkey is one of the items that walks a line between being a copy and being a similarly modernist styled item. A few of the things that make this donkey more of a copy are the ears, eyes, tail and mane: they are all very similar to Bosse’s. The salt and pepper pots have also been seen with authentic Bosse models. This could be because these salt and pepper pots were an off-the-shelf item you could get locally. We’ve seen these pop up mostly around Europe and Austria so it was most likely another Austrian maker working in the same period of the 60s. This donkey is always unmarked.
Real Bosse Salt & Pepper Holders:
See some of Bosse’s original salt and pepper holders below for comparison. The zebra is marked “Baller Austria” and has toothpick holder pots instead of salt and pepper pots. The first donkey is marked “Baller Austria” and has glass pots with brass screw on tops. The second donkey is a later model done while Bosse was in Germany. It has a rougher and flatter shape and has bent brass wire rings resting on its back for holding the salt and pepper pots. The camel has the same wooden shaped salt and pepper pots as the fake donkey above. It is marked “Baller Austria”. All the holders (with the exception of the German donkey) have the rings for holding the salt and pepper pots cast in place with the animal. They are not a separate piece.