- Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of the Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays
- Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of 1МПЗ Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays
- Common Walter Bosse Fakes – “M.I. Germany” Solingen
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: All the Fakes
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Curious Cases – Steel & Ferrous Metal
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 3 – All the Hedgehogs! on
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 3 – All the Hedgehogs! on
- UPDATE Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: How to Spot the Differences on
- UPDATE Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: How to Spot the Differences on
- UPDATE Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: How to Spot the Differences on
- March 2021
- January 2020
- December 2019
- October 2019
- June 2019
- April 2019
- February 2018
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- April 2012
- January 2012
- October 2011
- August 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- March 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- June 2009
- March 2009
- January 2009
- October 2008
Monthly Archives: March 2021
After finding of one of these “Made in Greece” stamped hedgehog ashtrays with a photo of a box, I figured it was time to do an updated post. Let’s start with the basics. This hedgehog ashtray is made of a white metal, probably a zinc based metal alloy with an applied antiqued patina in a bronze or copper color. It is not aluminum as previously thought as it is too heavy. This type of production would get you a much more detailed casting and richer color for much cheaper than casting with actual brass/bronze. You can tell it is a white metal casting because wherever the copper color is rubbing off, you see the silver colored metal underneath. They have textured fur and ears as well as eyes that stick out from the surface of the sets.
The baby has elongated legs looks almost exactly like the Russian sets (but with no incised ears). The casting seams from the mold are seen clearly running down the front of the face of the largest set and the bases all have holes where the sprues were attached just like the base of the baby.
As far as markings go, all sets are stamped on the inside bowls with “Made in Greece” and a Deer (possibly Ibex/goat) logo. The two letters inside the logo read “N” & “A”, possibly the initials of casting firm? The date inside the logo reads “1947”. We know Walter Bosse did not develop his hedgehog designs until somewhere around 1952. The date in the logo may just be referencing the founding of the company and not the date of manufacture. If you look at other items cast by this company the same date shows up, hence it’s just a part of their logo.
It would make the most sense for the animal in the logo to be a Fallow deer, know locally as Platoni or Dama dama, and were considered the symbol of Rhodes in Greece. Two bronze statues of the deer face the entrance to the old harbor (see the images above), it was a symbol used throughout ancient times (as seen on the Amphora), and through modern times (as on this souvenir enamel ashtray). As the 50s and 60s came modernism grew and artistic depictions of the deer got more stylized. I believe this Fallow Deer is what is depicted in the logo.
From the box, we can gather a bit more information than just the markings inside the hedgehogs. I traced the logo so we can see a bit more of the detail. The box reads “Athens, Greece”, possibly where it was manufactured. The telephone number on the box reads “TEL: 2815747”, possibly an old style of telephone number that turned up no results.
I imagine this was the company manufacturing the hedgehogs, as well as manufacturing and casting other souvenirs for sale at shops in Greece.
A quick Google search for metal ashtrays made in Greece started turning up other items from the same company with the same logo in the back. Here are a few examples of other items cast by this company above, including souvenir ashtrays of the Greek God Pan with goat horns on his head, and one of the Parthenon. The logo is a little better so you can get a lot more detail. These also have model numbers on them: curious enough they both are marked #29825, possibly for the shape of the ashtray instead of the design?
Finally, I actually found the two Russian and Greek sets so similar I decide to try a “Difference” operation in Photoshop and was kind of astonished. I didn’t even try to take the photos in the exact same position and they almost match up perfectly, especially the overall shape of the sets. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at in the photo above, images of the two sets (1 Russian and 1 Greek) were overlayed on top of each other. The black of the image shows where the two sets are not overlapping. The lighter parts of the image show where the sets overlap (the Greek in the brown color and the Russian in the bluish color). As you can see, I also ran the same operation on the two baby hedgehogs and found similar results. I think these were cast directly from a Russian set, making a mold out of a Russian hedghehog, using it as their master. You would lose a lot of the original detail, which is exactly what happened here with the Greek sets. We know Russia was making these for export to Greece because 1МПЗ mentioned it on their site.
So that’s it! These were definitely not made by Walter Bosse, but by a company with the initials “N A” and founded in 1947, possibly in Athens, Greece. They were direct copies of the Russian sets and are made of a zinc alloy with copper or bronze plating. The same company made other souvenir Grecian ashtrays. I hope all this ended up being helpful!
It has taken me almost 8 years of research until I finally made a break in this case 3 days ago. I have focused mainly on authenticating the Walter Bosse hedgehog ashtrays, but I thought I should turn my attention to researching the origins of this forgery. It all started with someone mentioned that they thought the set of hedgehogs were made by famous Russian casting firm “Kaslinsky foundry” (spelled Каслинском / Каслинское / or Касли (Kasli) литейном заводе). I began digging into their history to see what I could find. Here’s a snippet from their Wikipedia page:
“Founded in 1747 in Kasli, Chelyabinsk region. They made high quality art casting out of cast iron with sand casting method. Kaslino workers used German castings brought by Grigory Zotov from Berlin as their first samples. The cast iron alloy, has lightness and delicacy. And at the same time, the casting objects have a feeling of steel hardness and durability. In 1934 a special shop for artistic and architectural casting (completely renovated, expanded and modernized at the end of the 1980s) was established, which was tasked with updating the themes of artistic products in order to reflect modernity.”
Sounds promising? After a bit of digging but I ended up finding that although the dates worked out and they did do artistic-casting, they really only worked in a very specific type of cast iron. I was actually able to find a Russian set that looks like it was made with the same Kasli-metal but it is quite crude. You can see that it is solid black and has a sandy cast iron texture with a lot less detail. There is also definitely no silver polishing like all the other Russian sets (this is not done with cast iron). See photo below (courtesy of Kaslinskoe-Litye.com).
Considering the fantastic detail Kaslinsky they were getting out of their art casting I kind of still doubt this one was even manufactured by them (but cast iron is notoriously difficult to work with). Also, as a fine art casting foundry they were not set up to pump out thousands of these sets that now flood the market (and did back then as well). There was also no record of them using anything similar to the logo on the bottom of all the hedgehogs. It felt like a bit of a dead end.
So I decided to turn my attention to deciphering the Russian logo instead. I found a few other people mention that the logo reads МПЗ (which means MPZ), but I made a break in the case after my type designer partner suggested that there might be an implied “1” in front of the МПЗ. That brought us to 1МПЗ, or the 1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant, which has been around as far back at 1914 manufacturing parts for the aircraft industry and located in the Dorogomilovo district. It was initially called in 1917 Aviapribor (Авиаприбор), in 1935 it was named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze (Серго Орджоникидзе), in 1942 it becomes 1МПЗ (1MPZ), and in 1981 after Vasily Alexandrovich Kazakov (Василия Александровича Казакова). Their website can be found at https://www.1mpz.ru/ and a translation with google at https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ru&tl=en&u=https://www.1mpz.ru/. The history/about page on the website states:
“By 1940, the plant was the main enterprise for the production of aviation instruments, producing 80-100% of aviation devices in Russia. The plant glorified its name not only by rapid development and implementation of the most complex aviation control systems, but also by the production of consumer goods in 1945. Beds with a metal mesh, pharmaceutical scales, children’s toys, vacuum cleaners, high strength magnets, etc. were produced. In 1963, a specialized workshop for consumer goods was created from scattered areas. In the late 80s it grew into an Industrial Complex for the production of consumer goods for radio, household and souvenir products. Consumer goods produced by our plant were exported to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Syria, Germany, France and other countries. In 1988, in order to improve quality of manufactured products and increase the volume of production of civilian products and profit, a specialized design bureau was created at the plant, engaged in the development and introduction of serial production of products for export all over the world, with high serialability as the main focus.”
Now that’s getting a lot closer! All the boxes the the Russian hedgehogs come in say “пепельница ёж сувенир” or “Souvenir Hedgehog Ashtrays” and the website mentions a history of specifically manufacturing souvenirs. Also Bosse mentioned in an essay he wrote that the Russian hedgehogs had to be manufactured in large quantities to make them profitable:
“The hedgehogs made in Russia seem to run in particularly large batches, because zinc injection molding requires expensive molds that are only really worthwhile for very large productions.”
So I guess these are now made out of zinc! I then turned my attention to finding as many boxes as I could to see if there was any detail I could decipher. Here are all the boxes and the logos on the bottoms of the hedgehogs:
The boxes all had similar specific manufacturing data on the sides and one set even had a manufacturing date. Two of the boxes even had old price stickers from the retail stores they were sold in. One sticker reads: “Beriozka” (Берёзка, “little birch tree” ) and the other “Березка”. Beriozka is a state run retail store that sold luxury items in exchange for foreign currency. Opened 1969, closed 1990s. Networks of Beriozka stores were called “birches”. Both had a cost of 1.80 (1 Ruble and 80 Kopecks). Here is what the boxes read:
ту 1-508-0005-80 / ту 1-508-0005-77 TU1-508-0005-80 / TU1-508-0005-77
Цена з PУБ. Aрт. c-мг-434 Price Per Rubles Article S-MG-434
Дата выпуска OTK штамп Date of Issue Quality control department Stamp
Нояжь 1985 K-86 November 1985 K-86
So now all I had to do was find this logo in use on some of the other products manufactured by 1МПЗ (1MPZ). Luckily, that’s exactly what I was able to find! Items include a zinc souvenir medal from the war of 1812, a magnetic cabinet latch (magnets manufacturing was mentioned on their site), an enamel medal from the 1980 Russian Olympic Games, a metal lighter, and a zinc souvenir bottle stopper from the war of 1812. Here’s a collection of the images below:
So all these items seem to use the same logo. The bottle stopper and the medal both use the same type of zinc metal that the hedgehog ashtrays use (blackened with silver polishing). If and if you look at 2 packages that have information on the backs, they all use the same kind of model numbering system and are from the 1980s. For example, the Olympic medal reads:
Сувенир – вымпел Souvenir – pennant
ОЛИМПИАДА 1980 OLYMPIAD 1980
АРТ. С-МГ-34Д-78 Article S-MG-34D-78
ЦЕНА 1 ру6. 90 коп. PRICE 1 ruble 90 kopecks
Клеймо ОТК OTK Stamp (Quality Control Department)
Дата вылука Manufacture date
январь 1980 K-80 January 1980 K-80
This is the exact same format used on the stickers on the sides of the hedgehogs. The last clue in the case came at the end of the packaging for the 1812 souvenir pennant. The bottom of the package has the 1МПЗ (1MPZ) logo as well as reading “Первый московский приборостроительный 3-д / 121170, Москва, Г-170” or “The First Moscow Instrument-Making 3-d / 121170, Moscow, G-170″ which is located within the Dorogomilovo district where 1МПЗ (1MPZ) still stands today.
Last but not least, I want to turn my attention to the winged sets previously attributed to Aeroflot. I have not seen them using the 1МПЗ (1MPZ) branding anywhere but they are definitely made by the same manufacturer. Below are two models with the winged logos: one earlier (from the 70s) and one later (from the 80s). The earlier one is bare light silver metal and the later one has dark applied patina and polishing. Other than that they look exactly the same and are made with the same metal and same casting techniques at the 1МПЗ (1MPZ).
So now let’s turn our attention to the winged logo and the possible Aeroflot attribution. The fact that 1МПЗ (1MPZ) was making aviation equipment for Aeroflot probably led to the attribution of this being an “Aeroflot” branded set. While it is possible that these hedgehogs were purchased and sold by Aeroflot when the plant expanded to making housewares and souvenirs, I don’t think they are Aeroflot branded. Here is a photo of the winged logo and a photo of all the Aeroflot logos ever used by the airline for comparison:
Upon closer examination of the two logos side by side shows significant differences between the two. The winged hedgehog logo only ever has two wings with 3 feathers surrounding a central design of interconnected circles with a dot in the center. The Aeroflot logo always involves a hammer and sickle in the center with two wings on either side. The wings always have 4 or more feathers with the two handles of the hammer and sickle extending below the circle.
Although it could be argued that the winged logo was a simplified Aeroflot design for use at a small size, we know the casting from the hedgehogs could capture detail well. Also, the Aeroflot logo was used in small applications, as seen on this small souvenir enamel pin. So with all that, I believe the winged logo is actually the earlier logo of “Авиаприбор” or “Aviapribor” before the name was changed to 1МПЗ (1MPZ) in the 1980s. There is no record of the “Aviapribor” logo, but similar logos show up on aviation equipment from the period (2 wings around a central design).
Now on to the box. The only box I have ever seen in existence that is associated with winged set is this orange and blue box with an illustration of a hedgehog on the front and reads “Hedgehog Ashtray” and “Souvenir” in a logo up in the right-hand corner. Here are photos:
If you look closely at the side of this box, it also seems to have some dating info on the side as well. This reads:
АРТИКУЛ С-1 ARTICLE C-1
ЦЕНА 3 руб. PRICE 3 Rubles
ту 1-508-0005-77 tu 1-508-0005-77
Дата выпука И – 78 Date of issue June/July – 78
Штамп ОТК OTK Stamp (Quality Control Department)
ТИЗ. зак № 10751-15000 TIZ. order № 10751-15000
This is the exact same numbering system used by 1МПЗ in the above hedgehog boxes and other product packaging so I believe it is made by the same company. The date of this set is earlier, made around June/July of 1978. Interestingly this set originally cost more money, 3 Rubles, even though it was manufactured earlier. It is possible that the increased price because they were made for Aeroflot as souvenirs for tourists, thus they could charge a higher markup. The other sets were sold domestically in stores to locals. It’s also possible that the expansion of the plant’s capabilities allowed for them to manufacture these even cheaper after the 80s.
Final conclusions (TLDR): The fake Russian hedgehog ashtrays are made by 1МПЗ (1MPZ), or the “1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant” and NOT by Walter Bossse. They are made of zinc with injection molding, which required large scale manufacturing. One set was made in November of 1985. The original price in the 1980s was 1 Ruble and 80 Kopecks and were sold at networks of Beriozka stores. The Aeroflot set was made by the same manufacturer and the original box has an earlier date of June/July 1978. It cost 3 Rubles.
I’m not sure how exactly I began this long strange journey, but I know it all started with this green hedgehog. I have seen these on the market for years, but something about them always bothered me. I think I have finally been able to get some proof that not only are the fish ashtrays made by “M.I. Germany” and NOT Bosse, but that these hedgehogs that use the same green patina/verdigris are most likely cast by the same company. If you look at the relatively small amount of “M.I. Germany” marked items out there, you will see they had a fondness for this green patina and a proficiency in casting brass as well as other metals.
I recently got a tip that there was a fish ashtray out there (that is often attributed to Bosse) that actually had a marking on the bottom. I finally found one and snapped it up so I could post it here. I think we finally have an attribution/artist for these! Surprise, it’s not Bosse! The marking on the bottom of this ashtray says “M.I.Germany”. I imagine the “M.I.” might stand for “Made in” as in “Made in Germany” but it’s kind of a strange way to typeset it. It could also be the artist’s initials, so I don’t want to throw out that theory. So for now, I’d say we can attribute these fish ashtrays to “M.I.Germany”, whether that be an artist’s name or workshop. My hunch is that these fish ashtrays started be attributed to Walter Bosse because of all the green patina/verdigris hedgehog ashtrays like the one posted above. As I have stated previously, I generally view those hedgehogs as fake and not authorized by Walter Bosse.
Next up is a ashtray with the same mark “M.I.Germany” on the underside. It is an abstract leaf shaped bowl with little tripod legs on the base. It has the same brown/black and green patina over brass. As we get to see more pieces of their work, it’s helpful to start to get an idea of the workshop behind the “M.I. Germany” mark and gain some insight into their aesthetic. I think it is highly likely that they are the originators of all the German (and possibly Austrian occupied) brass and bronze castings out there with green patina/verdigris. I’m not an expert in WWII trade between countries so I can’t say if this mark was used in Austria during the war when it was essentially considered German territory. I know you can also find a similar marking on vintage straight razors, knives, and sewing scissors. They often have the “i” in lower case and are accompanied by a stamp from their US importers.
I have a theory that all of these may have been made in Solingen, Germany. Above is a pocket knife that uses the same mark in conjunction with “Solingen”. It has a stainless steel knife and a body made of deer horn. The “M.I. Germany” mark looks almost identical to the marks on the other items above.
I found the above key corkscrew with the same “M.I. Germany” marking on it. It is similar in style to ones made by Carl Auböck where the shank unscrews to reveal the corkscrew and has a bottle opener component on the top. This one has a greek-key design on the bottom. I then found the same key with the telltale black and green patina of “M.I. Germany”. The next thing I found was a similar German key corkscrew with this “Solinger” (which means “from “Solingen”) golden paper tag. I doubt this is the ONLY company making items with the “M.I. Germany” marking but it is the only workshop I have been able to find using this mark at this point. Let me know if you have anything that can fill in the knowledge gaps!
As the years go by I am astounded at the number of different fake sets I’ve been finding. The two main ones you will often find are of course the Greek and Russian sets but there are SO many others out there that I didn’t expect. Some of them seem pretty small batch or handmade, but others seem to be mass produced. So I thought I’d get a post together of all the fake sets I have found over the years and hopefully it will be informative to you. I will continually update this post with new sets I find out there in the wild.
Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays
These zinc sets (not aluminum as previously thought) of hedgehog ashtrays were produced as souvenirs as well as possibly promotional giveaways for the airline Aeroflot. One set of dishes is marked with what looks almost like “MB” or upside down “ELW” and is by 1МПЗ (1MPZ) or the 1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant. The other set with the winged logo belongs to “Авиаприбор” or “Aviapribor”, or the previous name of 1МПЗ (1MPZ) before it was renamed in the 1980s. So the winged Aviapribor hedgehogs are earlier in date (1970s) and the 1МПЗ set from them 1980s. Earlier sets also tend not to have the darker grey applied patina/polishing and are just raw silver metal. Both dishes are considerably lighter weight than the authentic solid brass sets, but lighter weight that Bosse’s solid aluminum set, which makes me sure they are some kind of zinc composite of “white metal” or “pot metal”. They have polished silver noses and spines and incised fur, eyes and ears. “Babies” for both trays usually have elongated legs. They came in a box reading “пепельница ёж сувенир” which translates literally to “souvenir ashtray hedgehog.”
SEE MY IN DEPTH POST ABOUT THESE RUSSIAN 1МПЗ (1MPZ) SETS HERE
Weight : 1 lb 3.3 oz / 548 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 2.75″ wide x 2.5″ tall
Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays
Next up is another set of white metal trays. This set is usually plated with a copper or bronze colored metal and can also be plated in a shiny golden metal. These are usually marked “Made in Greece” on the inside of each bowl but can also be unmarked. These are the lowest quality I’ve seen, with most having seams from casting that were not ground off. Casting seams from the mold are often running down the sides of the face. They look very similar to the Russian and Aeroflot aluminum ones, having the same incised fur and body shape, but there are usually no polished parts. The “baby” has the incised cross for legs but can also have elongated legs. I have a feeling these may have been cast from a Russian master, so it’s essentially a fake of a fake, hence the low quality. They were sold in a bright blue box.
Weight : 1 lb 2.6 oz / 530 grams
Size : 4.25″ long x 2.75″ wide x 2.5″ tall
Green Patina / Verdigris Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set of trays is the typical set you see with green patina or “verdigris”. These sets are made with sharp edges, golden eyes, polished ears on the first 3 sets. I’m inclined to say the green patina is an error in the patination process because there is no existing black patina underneath and the green penetrates down to the brass. I really do not like the verdigris finish on these, it’s just a little strange and not at all in keeping with Bosse’s aesthetic. I’m pretty sure the green arose from the manufacturer not having the chemical composition of the acid bath just right, or leaving it in there too long, or not knowing how to seal the surface properly. I have seen these with the X-legs baby and the full-legged baby. They are never marked. These sets are the furthest from Bosse’s original aesthetic ideal for the hedgehogs, even though they were possibly made with his original molds and masters (see the original “Authentication” post here). For whatever reason, Bosse was not able to pay off some of his debts to casting firms he was working with and they began casting and selling his designs without his knowledge to repay those debts. Since there were no copyright laws on the books for artists at the time, Bosse went to court to try and fight. In the end, he did not live to see the benefits of his court cases. In the meantime, these casting firms proliferated his designs. So these sets were made with Bosse’s original molds and masters, but possibly without his knowledge. I’m inclined to categorize them as fake because they are about as different in intent as the Russian sets are from Bosse’s originals. The only other items I have seen on the market with a similar green patina on them are NOT Bosse designs, but are often attributed to him because of these green hedgehogs.
SEE MY IN DEPTH POST ABOUT GREEN PATINA AND M.I.GERMANY HERE
Weight : 1 lb 10.7 oz / 756 grams
Size : 4.75″ long x 3″ wide x 2.5″ tall
French Hedgehog from Galerie d’art Bourmes
This hedgehog is worth an honorable mention for its creativity. More inspired by Bosse than a direct copy, this hedgehog set is very large and extremely heavy. The eyes are painted on and not drilled out. The quality is very good in terms of casting. Although it only has 5 pieces in the set, it weighs almost twice as much as a Bosse set because the side walls are extremely thick. The smallest of the set has a hollowed out top like a regular ashtray. With the side walls being so thick, there was no room for a 6th baby. The patina on this is also painted on, with a bit of artistic flair. There are water decal labels on almost all of the hedgehogs from a French souvenir shop that is still in existence today. The decals read “Galerie d’art Bourmes” which is an art gallery frequented by tourists and carrying the work of Georges Gouzy and Robert Chiazzo who were contemporaries of Pablo Picasso. We are not sure who made these hedgehogs, but it is most likely the work of a local artist. This set is super rare.
Weight : 2 lb 11.2 oz / 1224 grams
Size : 5.25″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall
Very similar to the above hedgehog, this set seems more like a final product than the initial draft of the one above. It is very likely they have even been made by the same person/shop, and since it was also purchased from France that seems likely. This set has thinner walls and very similar hedgehog shapes to the original Bosse hedgehogs, so I’m inclined to say they may have just used his originals to cast this one. Unlike the above set, this one does have a baby. It is very detailed, with the three central dot spikes being very rounded and having fully formed legs. This set also has 3 dimensional ears on the three largest hedgehogs, with extra details painted on. Each hedgehog also has golden faces with dots painted on for eyes. This set weighs in at a little over half the weight of the set above, even though it has all 6. It is also a bit smaller in length.
Weight : 1 lb 12 oz / 794 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 3″ wide x 3″ tall
Made in Italy Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set actually reads “Made Italy” and is a fully gold polished set of brass hedgehogs. Each is stamped on the bottom with the exception of the baby, which is stamped on its side. The baby has the simplified X-legs. The whole set looks like they took one of Bosse’s originals and made a new mold from it to cast their fakes. Each hedgehog has the same characteristics as Bosse’s authentic hedgehogs. It’s actually a really nicely made set and is excellently cast and finished… actually it’s nicer than a lot of Bosse’s later polished gold sets coming out of Germany. It might be tempting to try and put this in the “real” category because it is actually done really well, but Bosse never authorized casting in Italy. Everything authentic comes out of either Austria or Germany. If it wasn’t marked, I probably would have been fooled too.
Weight : 1 lb 10.5 oz / 752 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall
Silver Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set is notable for its intense texture as well as its bright silver coloring and red plastic gems inset in the eyes. The outside texture has incised lines scraped in the outside and the inside texture is hammered with round indentations. The three largest hedgehogs have ears, but only the largest hedgehog has eyes, which are drilled and inset with the red crystals. They do have a baby usually, but mine is missing the baby. Again, the size and shape make me think this used one of Bosse’s originals and reworked it heavily. I’m not sure what the base metal is: some bright green rust spots reveal a brassy color so it could be silver metal over brass. I’ve seen a few of these over the years, mostly in the USA. If I had to guess, I’d say these were made for export to the US, probably being made somewhere like Japan. They are decently weighted and are also a bit on the smaller side, about 1/2″ smaller in all directions. Certainly one of the craziest looking sets I’ve seen out there!
Weight : 1 lb 3 oz / 556 grams
Size : 4″ long x 2.75″ wide x 2.75″ tall
Painted Aluminum Hedgehogs
This set seems like it is meant to mimic the coloring of the original brass hedgehogs, but with cheaper casting and paint. This set looks to have been spray painted or airbrushed with a dark brown base layer and a bright yellowish-gold highlight. Where the spray paint missed and is peeling, you can see silver colored metal underneath. That combined with the weight makes me pretty sure this is made of aluminum and looks to be die cast. It has some mold lines running down the front of the nose and the inside of each bowl has 2 indented circles from casting. The baby has funny cones for legs and the 3 central spines are super rounded and also cone shaped. In fact, all the legs on each hedgehog seems to be replaced with a sort of exact cone shape. It is likely they used one of Bosse’s originals to cast from, as each hedgehog in the set corresponds to the shapes of the original Bosse sets. This set is from Europe, but it’s exact origins are unknown.
Weight : 8.3 oz / 236 grams
Size : 4.5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall
I would consider all these sets to be more inspired by Bosse then direct rip offs. You can definitely see Walter Bosse’s influences on each set though. Some of them are vintage, but some are actually currently being made and sold today. Crazy that his work is still being copied and sold, but I guess it speaks to the timelessness of his designs.
Ceramic Hedgehog Measuring Cups
These sets of measuring cups are super inspired by Bosse. They come in a set of 4 sizes and nest inside each other. They even went as far as adding gold tips on the spines on one version. Each set has a nose and eyes painted on as well as little dashes for fur. They are currently being sold at number of places online and are probably being white-labeled from China.
Anthropologie Ceramic Hedgehog Measuring Cups
Similar to the above set, these come in a set of 4 sizes and nest inside each other. Gold has been added around the ears, eyes and feet. They don’t nest quite as nicely inside each other, but still make for a cute set. They also have textured spines and fur on the outside of each cup. They are not being sold at Anthropologie any more, but they can still be found on the the secondhand market.
Black Glazed Pottery Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set of hedgehog ashtrays is made in pottery with a black glaze with gold speckles and painted red eyes and nose. They were manufactured in Japan sometime in the last 30 years and are about the same size as Bosse’s hedgehogs. The walls are thicker to reinforce the set for slip-casting in pottery. They come in a set of 4 and are relatively difficult to find on the vintage market.
Este Italy Ceramic Hedgehog Bowls
These porcelain/ceramic hedgehog bowls are quite a bit larger than Walter Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays, coming in at 7.5″ long. Because of their size I would categorize them more as bowls/trays than ashtrays but they could be used as such. They came in 3 different color combinations: white, yellow and gold plated. The full set is 6 pieces with the smallest/baby of the set being a full bowl as well. The set has a completely smooth surface and high-gloss glaze over a white ceramic base. Each hedgehog has eyes which are raised from the surface (no ears) and spines surrounding the edges like Bosse’s original designs. Only the largest of the set will have the marking on the bottom, which has a castle in the clouds surrounded by a circle and reads “ESTE, Made in Italy, A 44A, 51”. They are definitely vintage and probably from the 1960s or 70s. The sets are quite fragile and lightweight so the spines have often been chipped over the years.
Funky Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set of hedgehog ashtrays is super funky and is definitely inspired by the idea of Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays. But they took the idea and ran with it! The trays look to be more flat on the bottom and have more cartoonish looking features. They are actually a stack of 7 instead of Bosse’s 6 so you get one more hedgehog to share with friends. The design reminds me more of something pre-Columbian like Mayan or Aztec.. I’m not sure what the metal composition looks like but it could be bronze or brass. My guess is these were cast somewhere in Asia, India or the Middle East and are most likely vintage.