Author Archives: Modern Vienna Bronze

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

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Hi everyone! I’m sorry it has been such a long time since I last posted. 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 and one on a fat-lava pottery vase).
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 keyracks. 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.
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!
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.
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 moulds 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 mould 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 mould 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

French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes
French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes
French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art BourmesFrench Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art BourmesFrench Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes
Update #11 : 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, I’ve only ever seen this one.
Weight : 2 lb 11.2 oz / 1224 grams
Size : 5.25″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

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 mould. 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 mould. In each subsequent casting, the mark gets more and more faint, and also varies with the quality of the sand casting and mould. 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
Last but not least, I discovered in an old Bosse catalog page that your 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 Hedgehogs

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. Keep on collecting!

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Common Walter Bosse Fakes – Dachshund Bottle Opener

Fake Walter Bosse Dachshund Bottle Opener

We’re not sure where this little dachshund figurine came from but it sure is cute! These are often attributed to Bosse but are NOT made by him. Though he did work with un-patinated polished brass it was mostly early in his career. It took quite a bit more finishing work to get a high-shine finish. Working with black patina over brass and picking your highlights was actually an easier process and would hide casting issues much more easily.

This is another item we wouldn’t necessarily deem a fake but more of a similarly modernist styled item. We’ve seen this dachshund pop up mostly around Europe and Austria so it was most likely another Austrian maker working in the same period of the 60s. This little guy works as a bottle opener and knife/spoon rest and is always unmarked. It’s also pretty common and would bring about $35-$45 depending on condition.

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Common Walter Bosse Fakes – Fish Ashtray

Fake Walter Bosse Fish Ashtray

We’re not sure who started the rumor that this big ol’ fish ashtray was by Walter Bosse. This guys is not as much a fake, but is more of an original by another artist working with blackening brass. They are most often found in Europe so we’re thinking they might be from another artist working in Austria around the same time. The style is definitely more realistic and heavily detailed, unlike Bosse’s work (Bosse mostly worked in a simple modernist style, with simple holes or dots for eyes). These fish ashtrays often seem to have a grey or greenish tint to the patina, which was the result of not sealing the patina properly or letting the object sit in the acid bath too long. These fish are never marked.

Don’t let all the listings out there fool you! This is NOT a Bosse. We’ve even seen these listed for $500 on 1stDibs as designed by “Walter Bosse for Hagenauer”. Bosse never worked for Hagenauer, they were competitors! Sellers often want to make the item their selling to seem the most valuable or rare so they’ll attach as many famous names to it as possible. These ashtrays are fairly common and would carry a value of around $40-$60 depending on condition.

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Common Walter Bosse Fakes – England

Walter Bosse England Fakes Collection

Some of the most common Walter Bosse fakes out on the market right now are a collection of items from England. Almost always unmarked, the most common items are giraffes, horses, firehorses, dachshunds, donkeys, cats, gazelles, kangaroo, ducks, geese, and elephants. Sometime in the 1960s–’70s, a company in England started making copies of a few select Bosse models, and even went so far as to try and copyright them. We’ve seen a few marked items, and they are most often hand ashtrays and corkscrews. You can even find a patent number on the bottom of some of the items. After doing a bit of research on one of these patent numbers, we found it was associated with a generic casting company in England in the ’60s. They were most likely making these items on the side to make some extra money.

Is my item an authentic Walter Bosse or a copy from England?
Walter Bosse Real vs. Fake English Firehorse Though some of the items are direct copies of Bosse’s work (like the firehorse, elephant, and donkey) many are not Bosse’s work at all. In the case of the firehorse, the English fakes just have the tips of the mane and tail polished, and not the whole mane or tail. These are also slightly smaller as they were most likely cast from a Bosse casting, not the original master. Similar to the Taxco fakes out there, these items were most likely imagined by an artist working for the casting company in the style of the items taken directly from Bosse. These English castings can be identified by their shiny black painted surface, which chips easily. They were not familiar with Bosse’s patina process, so they used black paint instead.

Any questions? Feel free to ask!

Check out all the fakes below:

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52 × BOSSE: Bonus!

So we have finally reached the end of our project. Did you enjoy it? Here are some extra bonus shots that didn’t make it into this year’s posts. What do you think, should we do another year?

Walter Bosse Rabbit
Walter Bosse’s 6040 Rabbit on a log.
Walter Bosse Lion
Walter Bosse’s 6025 lion standing on a mountain.
Walter Bosse Crocodile
Walter Bosse’s 6002 Crocodile on dry earth.
Walter Bosse Heron
Walter Bosse’s 5209 Heron in the leaves.
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52 × BOSSE: Week 52

Walter Bosse Giraffe
Week 52 features Walter Bosse’s BO02 giraffe in the undergrowth.
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52 × BOSSE: Week 50

Walter Bosse Mouse
Week 50 features Walter Bosse’s 5065 mouse sitting on a patch of moss.
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52 × BOSSE: Week 49

Walter Bosse Standing Bear
Week 49 features Walter Bosse’s BO09 bear standing on a tree stump.
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52 × BOSSE: Week 48

Walter Bosse Seahorse
Week 48 features Walter Bosse’s 5364 Seahorse in seaweed.
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52 × BOSSE: Week 47

Walter Bosse Sitting Bear
Week 47 features Walter Bosse’s BO40 Bear sitting on a branch.
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