Tag Archives: vintage

Common Walter Bosse Fakes – “M.I. Germany” Solingen

Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays - Green Patina Verdigris
Walter Bosse Hedgehog - Green Patina
Walter Bosse Hedgehog - Green Patina Walter Bosse Hedgehog Baby Comparison - Green Patina

I’m not sure how exactly I began this long strange journey, but I know it all started with this green hedgehog. I have seen these on the market for years, but something about them always bothered me. I think I have finally been able to get some proof that not only are the fish ashtrays made by “M.I. Germany” and NOT Bosse, but that these hedgehogs that use the same green patina/verdigris are most likely cast by the same company. If you look at the relatively small amount of “M.I. Germany” marked items out there, you will see they had a fondness for this green patina and a proficiency in casting brass as well as other metals.

Brass Fish Ashtray
M.I. Germany - Brass Fish Ashtray
UPDATE #1

I recently got a tip that there was a fish ashtray out there (that is often attributed to Bosse) that actually had a marking on the bottom. I finally found one and snapped it up so I could post it here. I think we finally have an attribution/artist for these! Surprise, it’s not Bosse! The marking on the bottom of this ashtray says “M.I.Germany”. I imagine the “M.I.” might stand for “Made in” as in “Made in Germany” but it’s kind of a strange way to typeset it. It could also be the artist’s initials, so I don’t want to throw out that theory. So for now, I’d say we can attribute these fish ashtrays to “M.I.Germany”, whether that be an artist’s name or workshop. My hunch is that these fish ashtrays started be attributed to Walter Bosse because of all the green patina/verdigris hedgehog ashtrays like the one posted above. As I have stated previously, I generally view those hedgehogs as fake and not authorized by Walter Bosse.

Brass Leaf Shaped Bowl - M.I. Germany
Brass Leaf Shaped Bowl - M.I. Germany
UPDATE #2
Next up is a ashtray with the same mark “M.I.Germany” on the underside. It is an abstract leaf shaped bowl with little tripod legs on the base. It has the same brown/black and green patina over brass. As we get to see more pieces of their work, it’s helpful to start to get an idea of the workshop behind the “M.I. Germany” mark and gain some insight into their aesthetic. I think it is highly likely that they are the originators of all the German (and possibly Austrian occupied) brass and bronze castings out there with green patina/verdigris. I’m not an expert in WWII trade between countries so I can’t say if this mark was used in Austria during the war when it was essentially considered German territory. I know you can also find a similar marking on vintage straight razors, knives, and sewing scissors. They often have the “i” in lower case and are accompanied by a stamp from their US importers.

M.I. Germany - Etruscan Ashtray
MI Germany Mark - Ashtray
UPDATE #3

Another example of an “M.I. Germany” marked ashtray/bowl with a swirling and somewhat Etruscan style. It also has black and green patina with polished brass highlights.

 

Solingen "M.I. Germany"

UPDATE #4
I have a theory that all of these may have been made in Solingen, Germany. Above is a pocket knife that uses the same mark in conjunction with “Solingen”. It has a stainless steel knife and a body made of deer horn. The “M.I. Germany” mark looks almost identical to the marks on the other items above.

M.I. Germany Key Corkscrew
German Key Corkscrew - Green Patina
Solinger Germany Tag
UPDATE #5
I found the above key corkscrew with the same “M.I. Germany” marking on it. It is similar in style to ones made by Carl Auböck where the shank unscrews to reveal the corkscrew and has a bottle opener component on the top. This one has a greek-key design on the bottom. I then found the same key with the telltale black and green patina of “M.I. Germany”. The next thing I found was a similar German key corkscrew with this “Solinger” (which means “from “Solingen”) golden paper tag. I doubt this is the ONLY company making items with the “M.I. Germany” marking but it is the only workshop I have been able to find using this mark at this point. Let me know if you have anything that can fill in the knowledge gaps!

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Walter Bosse Figurines: “Baroque” Series

Walter Bosse Catalog Page - Baroque Animals

After a bit of research looking through our company catalog (which we lovingly refer to as the “Bible”), we came across a page of sketches that seemed to be called “Baroques”. We instantly recognized that the sketches matched animals we have in our museum collection. So we felt like we should put together a post about them because they tend to differ a bit from the overall catalog of Bosse offerings. So lets do a deep dive into the catalog page and some of the items below.

The characteristics the Baroque items all seem to share are:

  1. Simple short squat legs positioned in elegant poses.
  2. Plump (zaftig) bodies
  3. Fully polished (never with black patina)
  4. Slightly larger size than most Bosse figurines (3″ long/tall on average)
  5. Usually unmarked (or we have one marked with an early “Bosse Austria” mark)
  6. Slightly more stylized features (realistic detailed hair, eyes with eyelids, etc.)

Here are all of the Walter Bosse Baroque animals in our collection:

Walter Bosse Baroque Hellhound Walter Bosse Baroque DoeWalter Bosse Baroque LizardWalter Bosse Baroque HorseWalter Bosse Baroque GiraffeWalter Bosse Baroque HorseWalter Bosse Baroque Fox

We also really see some similarities to an early Walter Bosse pottery horse we have in the collection as well. See our Instagram comparison post hereWalter Bosse Pottery Horse

So our conclusion is, these were probably early models of Bosse’s work when he was experimenting with brass and transitioning over from Pottery work to brass work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They represent a quality of casting and workmanship that is consistent with his early work and thus, they are sketched quite early in the pages of the “Bible” catalog. See more detailed photos of the catalog pages below:

Walter Bosse Catalog Page - Baroque AnimalsWalter Bosse Catalog Page - Baroque AnimalsWalter Bosse Catalog Page - Baroque Animals

 

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Authenticating Your Walter Bosse: No Black Patina, is my Item Real?

Walter Bosse Elephant Ring HoldersSo you have what you think is a Walter Bosse design, but it is all-gold and doesn’t have an applied black patina. Does that mean it is fake? Not necessarily! Generally there were two factors that led to an item receiving the all-gold “fully polished” treatment. We will outline those two methods below:

  1. The most common fully polished items are usually Walter Bosse’s larger and useful objects made later in his life while he was living in Germany. In the late 1950s until his death in the 70s Walter Bosse was living and working in Germany (leaving his original Austrian company to Herta Baller). He ended up fleeing to Germany because of debts he had in Austria and then started over (in Germany) with all new designs. Since he had no money, he contracted out to other companies to do all the casting for him if he provided the designs. Unfortunately, he ended up not paying some of those casting companies for their work and they started to produce and sell his designs on their own without his authorization (in order to recoup his debt owed to them). Consequently, the patina was a tricky process and the casting firms didn’t always know how to do it correctly. If you do it too long, the patina turns green or greyish. If you don’t do it long enough it turns brown. If you don’t fully clean the oils off, you can get spots that resist the etching process and looks blotchy. So in a lot of cases, these casting firms ended up  just leaving the patina off entirely.
    So how do you know if your item is from this era in Walter Bosse’s life? Items from this particular period usually have rougher looking surfaces. The sand casting process was a lot less precise and often resulted in larger casting flaws and a sandy texture. But it was great for producing larger objects at cheaper prices. Generally these types of items that were possibly cast without Bosse’s knowledge are thought of as Bosse designs because they are using the same masters and molds. It is really impossible to prove whether these were authorized or unauthorized pieces.
    See some examples of his German fully-polished work:
    Walter Bosse Town Musicians of Bremen Wall Hook / Key Rack Walter Bosse RoosterWalter Bosse Elephant Thermometer HolderWalter Bosse Hedgehog AshtraysWalter Bosse Cow Wall Hook / Key RackWalter Bosse Cow Thermometer HolderWalter Bosse Elephant Wall Hooks / Key RackWalter Bosse Fish Dish
  2. The less common fully-polished items are those that were selected to be polished because they were finely cast. It was somewhat rare but not uncommon for Bosse to fully polish items himself and not put a patina on if the casting quality of an item was pretty high. You will see very early models with an all-gold finish, often marked with the large “Bosse Austria” mark. Items had to be ground down and partially polished anyway before applying the patina. So sometimes if an if an item came out looking particularly nice, it was selected to be finely polished. The acid-etching patina process could hide small flaws in the casting process.
    See some examples below of his early fully-polished work:
    Walter Bosse Duck Figurine Walter Bosse Whale Ashtray Walter Bosse Deer Figurine Walter Bosse Hand AshtrayWalter Bosse DoeWalter Bosse Rooster FigurineWalter Bosse Fish KeychainWalter Bosse Hellhound
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Common Walter Bosse Fakes – Striped Bell

 

Walter Bosse Style Richard Rohac Striped BellThe story of this bell has more of a happy ending than some of the other miss-attributions we’ve seen. Thanks to our friends Sal Robinson and Wayne Meadows for finding a copy of an original sales catalog from Richard Rohac’s workshop. We are now able to confirm this bell is made by Richard Rohac!  If you are interested in learning about Bosse, Rohac, Hagenauer and more in the context of their corkscrew designs, go pick up their book  “AUSTRIAN FIGURAL CORKSCREW DESIGN: AUBÖCK · BOSSE · HAGENAUER · ROHAC” (ISBN 978-0-9689294-1-4).

Check out the original catalog page below!

Richard Rohac Catalog Page - Black Gold Striped Bell

And there it is, #64 on page 55 of his catalog! These bells are often unmarked and we’re not sure why except that there isn’t a lot of flat surface are to put a mark on and you’d probably only get a partial mark out of it if you tried to stamp it.

A little background about Richard Rohac. He worked at Werkstätte Hagenauer for a period of time, refining his technique. In the 1950s/60s he branched out and started his own company (see the front of his original catalog below). His works are rendered in a more realistic style and are extremely finely cast and finished.  He worked in brass in the Modern Viennese Bronze style with acid-etched black patina with polished gold highlights. They are often marked with two R’s (RR) with their backs facing each other. He also used a secondary mark “Made in Austria” stacked and set in a slight oval shape.

Richard Rohac Catalog Page

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Common Walter Bosse Fakes – Brass Fish Ashtray & “M.I. Germany”

Fake Walter Bosse Fish Ashtray

We’re not sure who started the rumor that this is a “Walter Bosse” fish ashtray. 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 come in 2 different sizes, 1 large and 1 smaller. The largest is pictured above and the smallest below.

Brass Fish Ashtray M.I. Germany - Brass Fish Ashtray
UPDATE 3/20/2021

I recently got a tip that there was a fish ashtray out there that actually had a marking on the bottom. I finally found one and snapped it up so I could do a post about it. I think we finally have an attribution/artist for these! The marking on the bottom of this ashtray says “M.I.Germany”. I imagine the “M.I.” might stand for “Made in” as in “Made in Germany” but it’s kind of a strange way to typeset it. It could also be the artist’s initials, so I don’t want to discount that theory. So for now, I’d say we can attribute these fish ashtrays to “M.I.Germany”, whether that be an artist’s name or workshop. My hunch is that these ashtrays started be attributed to Walter Bosse because of all the green patina/verdigris hedgehog ashtrays that are on the market. As I have stated in previous posts, I have a hard time with those sets and I generally view them as fake and not authorized by Walter Bosse.

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Patina Restoration Services

After years of collecting we’ve developed a process of restoration on vintage and antique Bosse, Hagenauer, Rohac and Aubock items. Using a non-damaging paint matched to the exact color of the original patina, we restore items by keeping as much of the original patina showing as possible. We can also polish original polishing points if you so choose.  Finish can be matte or shiny but we try to match the original patina if there was any. The new patina is more fragile than the old patina so more care should be taken with newly restored items. 

This is by no means the “official” restoration technique of Bosse but we feel it is the safest and most clean way to restore chipping, damaged or rubbed patina while still keeping the original character of the pieces!

Walter Bosse Bird Restoration

Walter Bosse Bird Figurine Restoration

Above is a restoration of a very rare original model of Bosse’s BO32 Geometric Bird. We polished the original polishing points and restored the chipped places of the patina while keeping the original patina around intact.

Walter Bosse Rooster Figurine Restoration

Walter Bosse Rooster Figurine Restoration

Above is a restoration of a very rare original Bosse Rooster that is previously unseen in any catalog or literature. We polished the original polishing points and restored the chipped places of the patina while keeping the original patina around intact. Because there is no reference image of this item in existence, the polishing points were approximated by the texture of the brass. Bosse’s original polishing points can be found by comparing the texture of the brass. Places that were originally polished were much smoother than the parts that originally had patina on them.

Hagenauer Bear Figurine Restoration

Hagenauer Bear Figurine Restoration

Above is a restoration of an original Hagenauer Dancing Bear figurine. Often, Hagenauer did not patina all his figures but this particular figure had remnants of an original black patina that showed signs of rubbing as well as original polishing points. We polished the original polishing points and restored the rubbed places of the patina while keeping the original patina on the base. Hagenauer items tended to have a bit of a shinier finish so a clear coat was applied for shine and protection.

Walter Bosse Goat Corkscrew Restoration

Walter Bosse Goat Corkscrew Restoration

Above is a restoration of an original Bosse Goat corkscrew. We polished the original polishing points and restored the chipped places of the patina while keeping the original patina around intact.

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