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Collecting Images of Women

Updated on August 9, 2012

Our Passion for Collecting

My husband and I have been collecting since we were children. He collected baseball cards and I collected gumball machine charms.

When we lived in London, England, in the 1970s, our collecting tastes turned to British Royal Commemoratives and paintings and prints with no focus. While the commemoratives have stayed with us, the paintings and prints have not.

The day we saw an original 1940s pinup painting at an antique show was the day we were hooked on collecting images of women. We bought the painting,

Turns out the painting had been originally created by the famous artist Gil Elvgren, but later over painted by an artist who was less well known. A lady balancing gifts with a dog on a leash had been transformed into a girl skating on thin ice.

Not to be daunted by our early mistake, which we later traded to a collector doing historical research on pinup art, we began collecting images of women in a variety of media.

Photo: All photos taken by designsbyharriet

Variety is the Spice of Collecting - Images of Women

Collecting with a specific focus need not be boring. Our collection is anything but mundane. Think of all the types of collectibles available with images of women. Well, don't think too hard, because I am about to show you at least through the eyes of our collection.

  1. Porcelain Figurines - Art Deco, German, Czechoslovakian, Italian figurines.
  2. China pincushion dolls also know as half dolls.
  3. Pottery Figures - American art pottery.
  4. Lady head vases - Japanese and Modern.
  5. Bronze figurines
  6. American illustration.
  7. Pinup art.

French Powder Box & German Half Doll
French Powder Box & German Half Doll

Figures in Porcelain

Beauty and Elegance

It took us a while to begin our collection of porcelain figurines, primarily because they are breakable. But in time we realized that figures like these could not be produced in any other manner.

One porcelain collection consists of pincushion dolls, also know as half dolls and powder boxes for the lady's boudoir. The pincushion dolls are small, no larger than seven inches, with most smaller in size.

These dolls have several holes in their bases so they can be attached to a pincushion that would hold needles. These pincushions were then covered in elaborate dresses to hide the needles. Our collection contains both the half doll by itself and the dressed pincushion dolls.

The powder boxes were made in France, Germany and Japan and can be just as beautifully designed as the porcelain figurines.

At one time I had 300 half dolls and a 100 powder boxes. Needless to say, it was them or us, so I sold 200 half dolls and 75 powder boxes on Ebay, to keep home and hearth intact.

The second and larger porcelain figurines in our collection were created primarily in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Austria. The most prominent figures in this group were produced by Freidrich Goldscheider.

Goldscheider founded his Viennese ceramic company in 1885, where he employed the best china designers and painters. The company is famed for the figurines they created between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. The company produced about 8000 styles in large and small editions which were distributed all over the world.

All of our porcelain figurines are vibrantly colored and expertly executed down to the smallest details.

Goldscheider Porcelain Figurine Vienna, Austria

Goldscheider Porcelain Figurine Vienna, Austria
Goldscheider Porcelain Figurine Vienna, Austria

Lenci, Italian Porcelain Figurine

Lenci, Italian Porcelain Figurine
Lenci, Italian Porcelain Figurine

Royal Dux Figurine, Czechoslovakia

Royal Dux Figurine, Czechoslovakia
Royal Dux Figurine, Czechoslovakia
Kaye of Hollywood Pottery Figurine
Kaye of Hollywood Pottery Figurine

American Art Pottery and Lady Head Vases

Pottery Figures

American art pottery figurines were produced in California by Hedy Schoop, Kaye and Weil Ware. There are many more, but these are the ones we collected.

Hedi Schoop fled Germany during World War II and settled in North Hollywood, California, where she opened a factory that produced pottery figures of her own design. She was mainly known for her exotic figures of women of different nationalities dressed in their native attire.

Little is known about Kaye except that she worked from the 1940s to the 1950s and probably in Hollywood, California. It is assumed that her factory was fairly large, since there are quite a number of pieces created by her. Work done by this designer is marked Kaye with three numbers following the name, which are probably model number.

Weil Ware was founded by Max Weil who settled in Los Angeles after World War II. The factory remained a prominent manufacturer of pottery until Weil died in 1954.

As far as American art pottery figurines are concerned. I never collected the names only the images. If I liked them I purchased them whether they were marked or unmarked.

Lady head vases are the one pottery collectible that was almost exclusively manufactured in Japan during the 1950,s and 1960s. Funny that Japanese pottery is mostly thought of as inferior, but in this case, the antique head vase you purchase had better be a Japanese creation or you are not purchasing the real thing.

Lady head vases were created to hold plants or flowers. There is a large opening at the top of the heads of all these vases that is big enough to hold a small bouquet of flowers or house plant.

The impetus behind their production was the Japanese fascination with American hair styles, facial features and clothing and the ready and willing American consumer.

Several lady head vases were created in the images of American celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

Several years ago an American potter decided to make her own head vases. Although this line is not as collectible, at least not yet, there are some interesting and unique figures that have been produced by this contemporary designer.

I once owned more than 300 lady head vases, but again I ran out of room to put them and decided covering every table and shelf space in the house with these vases was crazy even for me. So again I sold many of them. This time at the Head Vase Convention' which is held every year in a variety of states.

Japanese Lady Head Vases, 1950's-1960's

Japanese Lady Head Vases, 1950's-1960s
Japanese Lady Head Vases, 1950's-1960s

Contemporary Lady Head Vases

Contemporary Lady Head Vases
Contemporary Lady Head Vases


Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Contemporary

Our Art Nouveau bronze sculpture is really a lamp. We rarely purchase figures that are attached to anything. We prefer the self standing ones, but this lamp caught us by surprise, and we could not resist it. It has a Tiffany-style shade and a beautiful figure set in a large leaf. It is an unsigned piece, but the design is Art Nouveau.

The most beautiful figures in bronze, just like in porcelain, are Art Deco. One of our Deco figural bronze sculptures was created by the German sculptor Otto Poertzel. The design was a popular one for Poertzel. It was created in a combination of bronze and ivory or bronze without the ivory.. Our sculpture is all bronze.

The sculpture is called Snake Dancer because a snake curls around her feet. This lovely dancer wears a skin tight leotard and is posed above a marble base. Strikingly beautiful at all angles.

We have few contemporary bronzes, but Western bronzes captured our attention. We purchased one by Elie Hazak who produced bronze sculptures based on figure from the Old West.

Our sculpture is of the singer Dora Hand, who became a hit performer at the Lady Gay Saloon in infamous Dodge City. Described as beautiful and gracious, she was accidentally killed by Spike Kennedy while sleeping in a cabin owned by the man who was supposed to be the victim. Kennedy was arrested by none other than Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.

Boy, did I digress on that one, but some of our images have great stories behind them, and I could not resist telling this one. The rest of the story can be found on

Otto Poertzel, The Snake Dancer

Otto Poertzel, The Snake Dancer
Otto Poertzel, The Snake Dancer

Elie Hazak, Dora Hand

Elie Hazak, Dora Hand
Elie Hazak, Dora Hand
Ben Stahl, In the Museum
Ben Stahl, In the Museum

American Illustration

Magazine Stories and Covers

If you thought I would leave my walls empty of images of women, you thought wrong. Every available space on our walls is filled with some type of image, many of them American illustrations.

These illustrations were usually done for covers and stories for such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Women's Home Companion, Cosmopolitan, and Ladies Home Journal. Our illustrations usually date from 1890 to 1960s.

One of my favorite illustrations is by Ben Stahl who primarily created 750 story illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. Stahl also worked for Cosmopolitan, and Women's Home Companion.

This illustration shows an elegantly dressed woman, in the style of the 1940s, standing in an art museum. Since I was a curator in an art museum for 25 years, this one really resonates with me.

American illustration can also be found on paperback book covers for which Ben Stahl created several illustrations.

One of the best and most comprehensive books on American illustration is The Illustrator in America - 1890-1980 by Walt Reed ( June, 2001). This is my reference book for all things related to American illustration.

Peter Driben
Peter Driben

Pinup Art

Calendars and Men's Magazine Covers

Our collection of pinup art, as I said, started us on the road to collecting. Needless, to say we are quite fond of these lovely ladies.

Most pinup art appeared in calendars and on the cover of what are known as girlie magazines, with titles like Wink, Beauty Parade, Whisper, Eyeful, and Flirt. Cute names!

One of the pinup artists in our collection is Peter Driben, who created hundreds of pinups for Beauty Parade and all the ones mentioned above. Driben's beautiful glamour girls graced these covers in the 1940s. He was certainly one of the more successful and well known of this group of artists.

Our work by Peter Driben is an image of a beautiful woman with very long red hair and what would have been considered very skimpy attire. Notice the shoes. Driben was famous for very high heel shoes that would today be labeled designer quality.


Final Thoughts

And Additions

Our collection on the subject of women is even broader than what is included here. There are prints and drawings, book and magazine covers, figural clocks, and dolls. I still think I may have left something out.

I focused primarily on the bulk of our collection, hoping to offer you an overview of what is possible when you are totally devoted to your collecting subject.

Collectors have to be at least a little weird to pursue their collections with the fervor that we have pursued ours. But there are many like us, whose devotion to their subject has resulted in great collections. Without just a little weirdness, these collections would have never been formed.

Hats off to over the top, weird,

slightly insane collectors,

all over the world.

What Do you Think About Collecting

Would You Like to Form a Collection?

Further Reading

If you want to become a serious collector, you have to have a serious background in what you intend to collect.

This Lens Received a Purple Star

This Lens Received a Purple Star
This Lens Received a Purple Star

Your Thoughts are Welcome

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    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 5 years ago from U.S.A.

      Great idea for a lens! This is so much fun! :)

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 5 years ago from Here

      Nice lens of a nice collection! You deserved that purple start.

    • Srena44 profile image

      Srena44 5 years ago

      great work

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A very nice collection. Thank you for sharing these treasures. :)

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      All these are really beautiful sculptures. These will be a very nice collection.

    • bilafond lm profile image

      bilafond lm 5 years ago

      Great Lens, great collectibles. Thank you for sharing this lens. I have liked it

    • Hypersapien2 profile image

      Hypersapien2 5 years ago from U.S.

      A very nice collection of images.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      What a nice collection you have here. I liked the head vases!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Nice lens and collection. I love the Goldscheider Porcelain Figurine from Vienna, Austria. I just in horse statues alone I have over 250

    • Mami Design profile image

      Mami Design 5 years ago

      Amazing idea :).

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Great photos and a lovely collection to focus upon!