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.
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.