- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Curious Cases – Steel & Ferrous Metal
- How It Works – Lost Wax Casting for Walter Bosse
- Hertha Baller vs Herta Baller? Lets Clear Things Up…
- Authenticating Your Walter Bosse Hedgehog Ashtrays: Part 3 – All the Hedgehogs!
- Walter Bosse Figurines: “Baroque” Series
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Tag Archives: vintage
After a bit of research looking through our company catalog (which we lovingly refer to as the “Bible”), we came across a page of sketches that seemed to be called “Baroques”. We instantly recognized that the sketches matched animals we have in our museum collection. So we felt like we should put together a post about them because they tend to differ a bit from the overall catalog of Bosse offerings. So lets do a deep dive into the catalog page and some of the items below.
The characteristics the Baroque items all seem to share are:
- Simple short squat legs positioned in elegant poses.
- Plump (zaftig) bodies
- Fully polished (never with black patina)
- Slightly larger size than most Bosse figurines (3″ long/tall on average)
- Usually unmarked (or we have one marked with an early “Bosse Austria” mark)
- Slightly more stylized features (realistic detailed hair, eyes with eyelids, etc.)
Here are all of the Walter Bosse Baroque animals in our collection:
We also really see some similarities to an early Walter Bosse pottery horse we have in the collection as well. See our Instagram comparison post here.
So our conclusion is, these were probably early models of Bosse’s work when he was experimenting with brass and transitioning over from Pottery work to brass work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They represent a quality of casting and workmanship that is consistent with his early work and thus, they are sketched quite early in the pages of the “Bible” catalog. See more detailed photos of the catalog pages below:
So you have what you think is a Walter Bosse design, but it is all-gold and doesn’t have an applied black patina. Does that mean it is fake? Not necessarily! Generally there were two factors that led to an item receiving the all-gold “fully polished” treatment. We will outline those two methods below:
- The most common fully polished items are usually Walter Bosse’s larger and useful objects made later in his life while he was living in Germany. In the late 1950s until his death in the 70s Walter Bosse was living and working in Germany (leaving his original Austrian company to Herta Baller). He ended up fleeing to Germany because of debts he had in Austria and then started over (in Germany) with all new designs. Since he had no money, he contracted out to other companies to do all the casting for him if he provided the designs. Unfortunately, he ended up not paying some of those casting companies for their work and they started to produce and sell his designs on their own without his authorization (in order to recoup his debt owed to them). Consequently, the patina was a tricky process and the casting firms didn’t always know how to do it correctly. If you do it too long, the patina turns green or greyish. If you don’t do it long enough it turns brown. If you don’t fully clean the oils off, you can get spots that resist the etching process and looks blotchy. So in a lot of cases, these casting firms ended up just leaving the patina off entirely.
So how do you know if your item is from this era in Walter Bosse’s life? Items from this particular period usually have rougher looking surfaces. The sand casting process was a lot less precise and often resulted in larger casting flaws and a sandy texture. But it was great for producing larger objects at cheaper prices. Generally these types of items that were possibly cast without Bosse’s knowledge are thought of as Bosse designs because they are using the same masters and molds. It is really impossible to prove whether these were authorized or unauthorized pieces.
See some examples of his German fully-polished work:
- The less common fully-polished items are those that were selected to be polished because they were finely cast. It was somewhat rare but not uncommon for Bosse to fully polish items himself and not put a patina on if the casting quality of an item was pretty high. You will see very early models with an all-gold finish, often marked with the large “Bosse Austria” mark. Items had to be ground down and partially polished anyway before applying the patina. So sometimes if an if an item came out looking particularly nice, it was selected to be finely polished. The acid-etching patina process could hide small flaws in the casting process.
See some examples below of his early fully-polished work:
The story of this bell has more of a happy ending than some of the other miss-attributions we’ve seen. Thanks to our friends Sal Robinson and Wayne Meadows for finding a copy of an original sales catalog from Richard Rohac’s workshop. We are now able to confirm this bell is made by Richard Rohac! If you are interested in learning about Bosse, Rohac, Hagenauer and more in the context of their corkscrew designs, go pick up their book “AUSTRIAN FIGURAL CORKSCREW DESIGN: AUBÖCK · BOSSE · HAGENAUER · ROHAC” (ISBN 978-0-9689294-1-4).
Check out the original catalog page below!
And there it is, #64 on page 55 of his catalog! These bells are often unmarked and we’re not sure why except that there isn’t a lot of flat surface are to put a mark on and you’d probably only get a partial mark out of it if you tried to stamp it.
A little background about Richard Rohac. He worked at Werkstätte Hagenauer for a period of time, refining his technique. In the 1950s/60s he branched out and started his own company (see the front of his original catalog below). His works are rendered in a more realistic style and are extremely finely cast and finished. He worked in brass in the Modern Viennese Bronze style with acid-etched black patina with polished gold highlights. They are often marked with two R’s (RR) with their backs facing each other. He also used a secondary mark “Made in Austria” stacked and set in a slight oval shape.
We’re not sure who started the rumor that this big ol’ fish ashtray was by Walter Bosse. This guys is not as much a fake, but is more of an original by another artist working with blackening brass. They are most often found in Europe so we’re thinking they might be from another artist working in Austria around the same time. The style is definitely more realistic and heavily detailed, unlike Bosse’s work (Bosse mostly worked in a simple modernist style, with simple holes or dots for eyes). These fish ashtrays often seem to have a grey or greenish tint to the patina, which was the result of not sealing the patina properly or letting the object sit in the acid bath too long. These fish are never marked.
Don’t let all the listings out there fool you! This is NOT a Bosse. We’ve even seen these listed for $500 on 1stDibs as designed by “Walter Bosse for Hagenauer”. Bosse never worked for Hagenauer, they were competitors! Sellers often want to make the item their selling to seem the most valuable or rare so they’ll attach as many famous names to it as possible. These ashtrays are fairly common and would carry a value of around $40-$60 depending on condition.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.