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Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of the Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays

FAKE Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays

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.

Greek Hedgehog Ashtray BabyGreek Hedgehog Ashtray Baby - Base

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.

Made in Greece Mark - Hedgehog Ashtrays
Greek Fallow Deer Logo - N A 1947As 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.

Ancient Greek Amphora from Rhodes with fallow deer Bronze Rhodian Fallow Deer Statue Rhodes Souvenir Deer Ashtray
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.

Greek Hedgehog Ashtray BoxGreek Hedgehog Ashtray Deer 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.

Greek God Pan Ashtray - Made in GreeceRound Parthenon Ashtray - Greek God Pan Ashtray - Made 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?

Greek vs Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays - Difference Operation
Greek vs Russian Hedgehog Baby - Difference Operation
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!

 

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Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of 1МПЗ Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays

FAKE Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays

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).
Kaslinsky Foundry Hedgehog Ashtrays
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.

1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Logo

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:
1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box1MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box
Orange MPZ Russian Hedgehog Ashtray BoxEarly 1MPZ Hedgehog Ashtray Marking  Later 1MPZ Hedgehog Ashtray Marking

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-861MPZ Russian Hedgehog Box

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:

1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Zinc Medal
1MPZ Magnetic Cabinet Latch

1MPZ 1980 Russian Olympic Medal with Original Packaging
1MPZ Red Cap Metal Lighter
1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Zinc Bottle Stopper

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

1MPZ Olympic Medal Packaging

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.
1MPZ 1812 Souvenir Medal Packaging
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). FAKE Russain Hedgehog AshtraysAeroflot Logo
FAKE Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtrays

Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtray Logo

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:
Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtray Logo
Aeroflot Historical Logos
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:

Russian Aeroflot Hedgehog Ashtray Box
Russian Aeroflot Hedgehog Ashtray Box Stacked

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.

 

 

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Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: All the Fakes

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.

FAKE Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays
FAKE Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtrays
Russian Hedgehog Ashtray BoxOrange Russian Hedgehog Ashtray Box  Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays - MB Logo  Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays - MB Logo

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

FAKE Greek Hedgehog Ashtrays

Greek Hedgehog Ashtray Box     Made in Greece Mark - Hedgehog Ashtrays

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

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Green Patina Verdigris
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Baby Comparison - Green Patina
Walter Bosse Hedgehog - Green Patina
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″ tallFrench Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes French Hedgehog Ashtrays - Galeri d'art Bourmes

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

FAKE French Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
French Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
French Brass Hedgehog BabyFrench Brass Hedgehog Baby
French Hedgehog
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

FAKE Made in Italy Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
Made in Italy Brass Hedgehog AshtraysMade in Italy Brass Hedgehog AshtraysMade in Italy Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays

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

Fake Silver Hedgehog Ashtrays
Silver Hedgehog AshtraysSilver Hedgehog AshtraysSilver Hedgehog Ashtrays
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

FAKE Painted Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
Painted Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
Painted Aluminum Hedgehog BabyPainted Aluminum Hedgehog BabyPainted Aluminum Hedgehog Baby
Painted Aluminum Hedgehog AshtraysPainted Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
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

Honorable Mentions

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
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
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.

Glazed Pottery Stacking Hedgehogs
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 - Porcelain Hedgehog Bowls
Este Italy - Golden Porcelain Hedgehogs
Este Italy - Yellow Porcelain Hedgehogs
Este Italy - Yellow Porcelain Hedgehogs
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.

Weird Hedghog Ashtrays
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.

 

 

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Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Curious Cases – Steel & Ferrous Metal

Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehogs

I recently came across a few strange metal hedgehog sets and was surprised to find that they were all highly magnetic! That is a trait shared only by ferrous metals, or metal with iron in them. So I figured I should put a post together and talk about all their curious traits and how I think they fit into the catalog (if at all).

Copper Plated Steel Set #1:
Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays

This is the first set I came across. I thought it might be another solid copper set like the one I already have in the collection. But like I found out with all the other sets, it is magnetic, and copper certainly isn’t magnetic! The further I looked at it, I could see some of the steel underneath (showing through the copper plating). Here is a closeup photo of it on the spines:Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
It seems like this set was cast in steel in some steel alloy and then plated afterward with copper to give it that golden coloration. The whole thing was then put through a patination process afterwards, possibly to give the patina something to adhere to.  The spines and ears all have the copper highlighting, while the body retains most of the patina. The color of the patina ended up more of a grayish color than the rich black you get from a traditional solid brass hedgehog set. Here is an authentic brass hedgehog set next to this copper plated steel set:
Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
The coloration is very different. As you can see, they are very close in size and look as if they came from the same mold or pattern. Even the baby of the sets look almost identical, though the steel one is more crude (see below):

Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Babies
I believe this set to be some kind of experimental model, not made for production but more of a proof of concept to see if steel was viable for casting and making hedgehogs.

Steel Set #2:

Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
This second steel set is identical to the first copper plated steel set, and they were purchased together so that’s not a surprise. They were most likely from the same experimental batch. Where these sets differ is in the execution.  This set seems to be cast in the same metal, and the same copper plating was applied. But that copper patina seems to have been too thin or failed as it was then polished off to reveal more of the steel. The results led to a somewhat two-tone effect, fading from black to copper to silver, that can be seen especially on the front legs of the largest bowl.
Two Tone Patina on Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
The patina is also the same grayish tone as the above set, but has some oil-slick rainbow coloration on parts of the patina (see photos below).
Rainbow Patina on Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysRainbow Patina and Rust on Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
From my research, this rainbow coloration may be due to the fact that the patina was put on at too hot of a temperature or had a chemical reaction to the steel. Here is a photo of an authentic solid brass set next to this steel set:
Walter Bosse Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
The baby of this set is also identical to an authentic solid brass baby from a hedgehog set .And the babies of the above copper plated steel set are exactly the same as well (see photos).
Walter Bosse Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Babies
Walter Bosse Copper Plated Steel vs Steel Hedgehog Babies
Another curious thing about this set of steel hedgehogs is the fact that all of the eyes have polishing around them. This is something I have never seen done on any Walter Bosse hedgehog ashtray sets in all my time and research. I have to say, I kind of dig it! I possibly like it just because it is different… I would definitely not trade the classic polishing on an authentic solid brass set of hedgehogs. But this is super fun to look at and (I think) certainly suits this set well!
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
As I mentioned with the above set, I believe this set to be some kind of experimental model, not made for production.

Steel Set #3:
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
This set of hedgehogs is also highly magnetic and (I believe) made of steel as well. This set differs in that is 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 rich-black patina of a solid brass set of hedgehog ashtrays. It looks to have not had any plating process like the above sets, just a light polishing on the tips of the spines and nose. In some spots, orange rust from the steel shows through the black (see photos).
Rust on Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
And here is the steel set of hedgehog ashtrays next to an authentic solid brass set of hedgehog ashtrays. They look almost identical to me as well.
Walter Bosse Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
The baby of this set is also identical to an authentic solid brass baby from a hedgehog set. Also, the babies of all three of these sets look identical as well (see photos).
Walter Bosse Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Babies
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Babies
As I mentioned with the previous sets, I believe this set to be some kind of experimental model, not made for production.

Cast Iron Set:
Walter Bosse Cast Iron Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Cast Iron Hedgehog Ashtrays
I’ve shown this set in previous posts but thought I’d bring it back in because it is also ferrous and super magnetic. As I stated before, this cast iron set is super heavy and very crude because it is quite a bit harder to get detailed casting out of cast iron. 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. The base metal on the cast iron set has a warmer tone to it, as opposed to the steel (which has more carbon in it) and usually has a cooler or more neutral grey tone (see photos).
Walter Bosse Cast Iron vs Steel Hedgehog Ashtrays
Right off the bat, all 3 of the “steel” sets seem to have been made with the same mold even though they were purchased from different places. The cast iron set seems like it may have been made with a different mold, at least the baby in the set it indicative of being from a different mold (as it has the X leg configuration). See below a comparison between all the steel babies (with the cast iron one in the 1st position on the left) and a comparison between a solid brass baby and the cast iron baby.
Walter Bosse Cast Iron and Steel Hedgehog Babies
Walter Bosse Cast Iron vs Brass Hedgehog Babies
And here is a comparison between the full set of cast iron hedgehogs and an authentic set of brass hedgehog ashtrays.
Walter Bosse Cast Iron vs Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
Steel Baby:
Walter Bosse Steel Hedgehog Baby

And last but not least is a random little steel baby I came across. It didn’t come with a full set, just a lone baby. It looks like it is just raw straight out of the mold and never had a patina applied (nor was it polished in any way). Here it is next to the authentic brass baby. Looks like the exact same mold was used again.
Walter Bosse Steel vs Brass Hedgehog Babies
In Conclusion:

All the sets match up almost exactly with a known authentic brass set made by Walter Bosse. I’m inclined to say they were all experiments by Bosse or one of the foundries he was working with. At the time, a few of the foundries he worked with also had the capability of producing iron and steel products. One of those is Kurt Jesch KG, who was later sued by Bosse for selling his works without permission or proper royalties paid. If I had to guess, I bet these came from the Jesch foundry during Bosse’s time in Germany in the 1960s. Whether Bosse oversaw the making of these or not is a mystery that will probably never be able to be answered. But if I had to guess, because of the attention to detail of the castings and similarities to authentic brass models, I would say someone with an artistic eye worked on these… maybe that was Bosse himself!

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Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 3 – All the Hedgehogs!

Walter Bosse Hedgehogs

Lately I’ve noticed some confusion when it comes to authenticating Walter Bosse hedgehog ashtrays. Whether you own a set already and want to check them or are looking to possibly buy a set of your own and want to make sure it’s real and not fake, I thought it would be good to clarify some points. I’ve decided to put together a list of all the hedgehogs I’ve come across in the wild that are authentic.

What I want everyone to keep an eye out for when looking at all these sets is the diverse variation. All of them are different and unique in some way or another. As they were all made by hand, some have funny drilled eyes, some have shorter legs, some babies don’t have X legs at all. The old sand casting method that was used to make these was not a very precise way of casting and would result in all kinds of shape variations with each set.

One thing to note, I’ve very rarely come across a set that is brass and is fake. Most often, the fake sets are made of another metal entirely and that makes them very easy to spot. The only fake brass set I have seen is a very funny looking French set that I have listed here. I am also starting to come around on the very sharply cast and polished sets that often have a green coloration in the patina and a mottled texture. It looks somewhat like it has been sponge painted on. I think these sets were not done directly by Bosse, but by the foundries he contracted with in the 1960s when he was in Germany. They were most likely using his original molds, but cast them without his knowledge because he left them with unpaid debts (and this was their way of recouping them). But that is a post for another day (keep an eye out on the Blog for that if you are interested)!

So lets jump in to some Walter Bosse hedgehog goodness!

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays  Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays  Walter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtray

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays

And here’s a gallery of authentic babies (or littlest hedgehogs in the ashtray set). Check out all the variations, especially the length of the legs and spines and the location and detail of the drilled eyes. Also, some spines are a lot more rounded than others.

Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby Hedgehog Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog
Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog
Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog
Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog
Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog
Walter Bosse Baby HedgehogWalter Bosse Baby Hedgehog

I will update this page with any new hedgehogs I find, so keep checking back in the future to see the latest!

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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
(3/2021)
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
(3/2021)
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
(3/2021)
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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UPDATE Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: How to Spot the Differences

A bit of history on Walter Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays:

At the end of 1952, Walter Bosse moved from Austria, where he lived since his birth in 1904, to Western Germany. He settled in the area of Iserlohn, because creditors were chasing him and his friends and business partners were cheating him. He wanted to concentrate on his job of being an artist. This time was very productive for Bosse, and he created an entire collection of new designs in the late 1950s. During that period, the hedgehog ashtray set was born. It was a revolutionary design, and quickly became popular worldwide. By 1962 it was his most popular design and he couldn’t keep up with demand. so he looked for partners to perform the casting on his behalf. Because he was not able to pay off some of his debts after they produced for him, some foundries used his molds and masters without discretion and sold models illicitly without his knowledge to make up for those debts. Meanwhile, many thousands of copies based on Bosse’s design were being produced and sold throughout the world. The Russians proliferated sets made out of zinc in the thousands. Copies were made in Italy, Spain, Greece, England, Austria and Germany. Bosse knew about this, but he kept on selling his hedgehogs at the Frankfurt International Fair for many years. Interestingly enough, Bosse’s hedgehogs could have made him a millionaire: Woolworth offered Bosse a several million dollar contract for the copyright of the ashtray set but Bosse would not agree. He feared that with mass-production, the hedgehogs would lose the charm and quality of his originals.

Bosse spent most of his later years fighting copyright cases for his items, mostly over this set of hedgehog trays and hand-shaped ashtrays. They were among his most prolifically stolen designs. Unfortunately, he was not able to benefit from the court’s decision. Bosse died soon after the courts decision to award him copyright of his items. His was the first decision of its kind and a landmark case that would live on and benefit all arts and crafts makers and designers from that point forward.

And now, here’s a list on spotting the differences between all the stacking hedgehog ashtrays out there.

A FEW THINGS TO NOTE FOR AUTHENTICATION:

METALS USED:
Bosse only really produced these ashtrays in brass, never in zinc/pewter or ceramic or silver colored metal. German foundries tried out aluminum later and there are a few plated German-Silver hedgehogs but these sets are extremely rare and hard to find. Be suspicious of all non-brass sets of hedgehogs!

CASTING QUALITY:
Bosse did not let largely flawed castings out of his shop and onto the sales floor. If an item was flawed it was remelted and cast again. The bronze fakes are often chipped and pitted and the zinc fakes often have casting seams and sprue holes.

MARKINGS:
Bosse’s Hedgehogs were almost NEVER marked. With the exception of a few sets I’ve found with the mark “Made in Germany” stamped underneath, his sets only rarely come with markings or stickers identifying the maker. 99% of the time they were unmarked. Finding a mark is rare.

BABY HEDGEHOG:
Referring to the smallest hedgehog or “baby” of the set. It can be used to authenticate your ashtrays. Bosse’s molds differed slightly from one to the next so both “babies” with elongated legs and incised cross legs are authentic. It is thought that maybe he cut costs such as making the “baby’s” legs an incised cross instead of 4 raised legs. But it seems the two may have even been used at the same time. The “baby” was used as a tamper / or snuffer to put out cigarettes and the one with the incised legs has a flat bottom (which makes it more effective).

FURRY TEXTURE:
Bosse’s trays never had texture to them. They are always smooth bronze with a black patina. Fakes have raised fur, eyes and incised ears. He also made a rarer authentic version of hedgehogs in just polished golden brass with no black patina.

Bosse Catalog Page

Bosse Catalog Page

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Advertisement
First off, the only image out there of a real Walter Bosse set of hedgehog ashtrays is a picture of a Bosse catalog page from the book Walter Bosse: Leben Kunst und Handwerk 1904 – 1979. Though it’s almost 100% in German, even if you can’t read German it is an amazing resource on Bosse’s work.

REAL – I will be presenting 2 authentic hedgehog ashtrays for reference below to show the wide variations that are present in Bosse’s original works. Because Bosse contracted casting of hedgehogs out to different firms for some of his production, you see a lot of variation in technique even though some of the same masters were used. It’s useful to remember too that these were all handmade in small batches and each worker doing the finishing gave unique character in the way the polishing was done and even where the eyes were drilled.

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Real

REAL #1 – The above hedgehog, I believe, is the gold standard when looking at Walter Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays and trying to authenticate them. I only say this, not to play favorites between hedgehogs, but because when comparing this to the catalog picture it is the most similar. Note the length of the nose and shape of the spines: they are all rounded and polished to a slight fade as opposed to a sharp polished line. The quality of the castings is very high, the ears are slightly polished on the largest 3 sets and the eyes are drilled up higher on the face. The height of the overall stack is also very tall, giving a rounded appearance as opposed to a more squashed oval appearance. The baby has fully molded legs (not the X legs).

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Real

REAL #2 – This set is one of the later versions of Walter Bosse’s hedgehog ashtrays. The nose is a bit shorter than the catalog picture. Both long and short nosed sets of trays are authentic, but made with different molds: the short nosed trays being later molds and having a “baby” with incised feet and the longer nosed trays being the earlier molds with elongated feet. This set has polishing going much further down the spines and the nose and is less subtle than the above set. It gives a bit more pop of that golden shine for a bolder set with a bit more contrast. The eyes are drilled further down on the face, the ears are not polished and the baby has X legs. The height of the overall stack is a bit shorter, because all of the legs on each hedgehog are a bit shorter, lending the stack to have more of a oval shaped appearance.

For reference, see the gallery below of all the authentic hedgehogs I have found over the years and all the unique variations. Which is your favorite?

Walter Bosse German Silver Hedgehog

REAL – This set is quite a mystery and is one of only a few sets I have seen in this metal. 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.

Walter Bosse Aluminum Hedgehog
REAL –
This hedgehog is extremely lightweight (282 grams) 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. Bosse experimented with aluminum when working with Alexander Jost (who sold the business to Kühn KG Fröndenberg). A quote from the book states “Many models were also already available in cast aluminum, with which Bosse experimented a lot for cost reasons, but which was difficult to ship, there was a lot of breakage, and the material was not very appealing.”
Weight : 8.4 oz / 238 grams
Size : 5″ long x 3″ wide x 2.75″ tall

 

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Made in Germany
Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Made in Germany Baby
REAL
– 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 them 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
? – [UPDATE] This set somewhat confounds me and I feel like it falls in somewhat of a grey area. But I will outline my thinking below and let you decide. My thoughts on this type of set are ever evolving. I would characterize this type of set as being made much later in Bosse’s career, possibly without his knowledge and possibly even made after his death. This is a whole spectrum and it is impossible to tell which of these sets is authorized and which isn’t. 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.
This “sharper” version and is not consistent with the catalog pictures. It is often lower quality with pitting and chips on the spines. The shape of nose and spines are very sharp and not rounded. They are often ground off at the top and look squared off. The smallest hedgehogs can have either the elongated legs that Bosse’s earlier molds had or the X legs. Also, the interior of the eyes are drilled out and polished inside, which was not done by Bosse. The polish inside the eyes means the patina process was done before they drilled the eyes. The overall feeling I come away with is that these were often made with a bit of a heavy hand. They feel like they were not necessarily made with the artist’s eye. But some sets can still be really beautiful and I have seen some that are nice quality and are done with great care. My conclusion with these is mixed, you have to be really careful buying these sets and make sure you get a lot of pictures to check quality.

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Green Patina
FAKE? – This set of trays is the typical set you see with green patina or “verdigris”. These sets are made similarly to the set above: sharp edges, golden eyes, polished ears. I can’t tell if the green was intentionally applied later or if it is an error in the patination process. I’m inclined to say it is an error 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. 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. 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

FAKE Russian Winged Hedgehog Ashtrays

Russian Marking

Russian Marking

Aeroflot Marking

Aeroflot Marking

Russian Box

Russian Box

FAKE – This zinc set (not aluminum as previously thought) was produced by 1МПЗ (1MPZ) or 1st Moscow Instrument Making Plant. They were manufactured as souvenirs for sale locally and for export. One set, the 1МПЗ hedgehog ashtrays, were marked with their logo and were manufactured later in the 1980s. The other set has a winged logo and was manufactured earlier in the 1970s for “Авиаприбор” or “Aviapribor” before the name was changed to 1МПЗ (1MPZ) in the 1980s. The earlier sets often have raw silver colored metal without the addition of darker applied patina and polishing. They were both manufactured as souvenirs and possibly given away as promotions for Aeroflot, which is probably where attribution-rumor came from. Both dishes are considerably lighter weight (being made of zinc) with silver polished nose and spines and incised fur, eyes and ears. “Babies” for both trays usually have elongated legs. The Russian 1МПЗ and Aeroflot branded hedgehogs 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

FAKE – Next up is another set of white/pot metal trays. These are usually marked “Made in Greece”. These are the lowest quality I’ve seen, with most having seams from casting that were not ground off. I think they were copies of the Russian sets, so essentially copies of copies. A bronze/copper plated patina was usually applied over the white metal to give it a darker and less silver color. They look very similar to the Russian ones, having the same incised fur and body shape, but there are usually no polishing. The “baby” has the longer fully formed legs.

 

Made in Italy Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays

Made in Italy Marking

FAKE – 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 exact 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.

Fake Silver Hedgehog Ashtrays
FAKE – 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.

FAKE Painted Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
Painted Aluminum Hedgehog AshtraysPainted Aluminum Hedgehog BabyPainted Aluminum Hedgehog Ashtrays
FAKE
– 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.

FAKE French Brass Hedgehog Ashtrays
FAKE
– More inspired by Bosse than a direct copy, this hedgehog set is very heavy. It is very likely they have even been made in France and sold by the shop “Galerie d’art Bourmes”. This set has 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. This set does have a very detailed baby, 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. Each hedgehog was painted with a bit of artistic flair in black paint (instead of etched with patina) with dots painted for eyes and notches on the ears. Each hedgehog also has golden faces with dots painted on for eyes. This set is is also a bit smaller by about 1/2″ in length.

AS AN END NOTE: I know a lot of people out there say “who cares about ‘fake and real'” or “the real sets are so expensive so I prefer to buy a fake”. I’d just like to remind those people of the importance of the original artist’s vision. If not for Bosse there would be no hedgehog ashtrays, fake or otherwise. The proliferation of fakes by people only interested in stealing intellectual property for profit harmed Bosse in his lifetime, so much that he died in poverty with nothing to his name. I think that is important to take that into account when buying a fake. These fakes are not without their impact. To those who have a fake set, please enjoy them! But also please take the time to educate yourself about Bosse’s work and may it bring you closer to understanding his artistic ethos: “to make as many people as possibly happy”.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WALTER BOSSE’S HEDGEHOGS:

PART 2 – Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedeghog Ashtrays: Rare Models and Marks

PART 3 – Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedeghog Ashtrays: All the Hedgehogs!

PART 4 – Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedeghog Ashtrays: Curious Cases – Steel and Ferrous Metal

PART 5 – Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedeghog Ashtrays: All the Fakes

PART 6 – Walter Bosse Fakes – A History of 1МПЗ Russian Hedgehog Ashtrays

 

 
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