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Antiques: ‘Naughty’ bathing beauties are a rare find

Artists have created pictures of naked women for centuries and many of the paintings and sculptures are now displayed in museums or homes. But some collectors are more interested in “naughties,” a group of 3- to 6-inch-long bisque figurines made from about 1910 to 1940. The women were posed as if lounging on a beach. Some were made with colored bathing suits and slippers, some wore nothing but a removable lace bathing suit. The others were made for a shelf. The women had angelic tinted faces and often mohair wigs and fabric caps. There were even mermaids, which were popular as an underwater feature in a fish tank. They represent the erotica of an earlier period. Most of the “naughties” or “nudies” were made in Germany by Hertwig & Co., Limbach or Galluba & Hoffman. A 3½-inch seated lady with a tulle swimsuit made about 1910 sold at a Theriault’s auction two years ago for $684. Prices are lower in 2016. Unfortunately, the original molds for these figurines still exist, and many reproductions and fantasies have been made.

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Q: When was the furniture company Coppes, Zook and Mutschler Co. in business?

A: Coppes, Zook and Mutschler Co. was incorporated in 1902 and operated under that name until 1914. It was started by brothers Frank, John and Samuel Coppes, brother-in-law Daniel Zook, and brothers Albert and Charles Mutschler. All of the men were related by birth or by marriage. The Mutschler Brothers left the business to set up their own company after Zook died in 1913. The new company, Coppes Brothers & Zook, specialized in making kitchen cabinets.

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Q: What is the difference between Hummel and Goebel figures?

A: In 1871 Franz Detleff Goebel and his son, William, founded F.&W. Goebel in Oeslau (now Rodental), Germany, to make slates, slate pencils and toy marbles. By the early 1900s, Franz had retired, William was in charge, the company was called W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik, and the factory was making quality porcelain tableware items and figurines. In 1934, grandson Franz Goebel saw the drawings of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel (Berta Hummel, 1909-1946) and got permission to model porcelain figures based on her artwork. The first Hummel figurines were born in 1935. Goebel made Hummels until 2008, and another company now makes them. But Goebel is still in business and makes many types of porcelain figurines and gift wares. Bottom line: Hummel figurines made between 1935 and 2008 are by Goebel, but not all items marked Goebel are Hummels.

Write to the Kovels, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.