Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Well hello, Donkey

I was given a really nice present at the weekend, it's this little silver-plated donkey, who doubles as somewhere to hang your small jewellery.

He's brilliantly odd-looking which is what, I think, makes him so nice. It was the excellent Abi who found him in a bit of a tarnished state on eBay (along with a twin, so now we both have one, hurrah!) and buffed him up with some Goddard's to this gleaming state.

The brand name on the base is Seba which, Abi thinks, produced stuff from the 1940s to the eighties. But there's isn't much information about them around – except that they are not the same as Seba Silver, the jewellery designers.

Also, Abi emailed to tell me, the donkey was probably inspired by a brilliantly kitsch mid-century Austrian designer called Walter Bosse, who I'd never heard of before. He specialised in miniature animals with a cartoonish design, like the fox above, a Bosse original, which you can buy for around £21.

The original versions like this can be found on the Austrian Brass Etsy shop, which you can also get to via the Walter Bosse site, Modern Vienna Bronze, under "vintage". They go from around £20 to £80 a-piece, but if you are outside the States the postage is about £14 and there may be import tax to pay. But if you're Stateside – and you like his stuff – you can feel smug. Anyone know of a UK stockist?

There is a whiff, in some of the figurines, of Jonathan Adler's marvellous Menagerie range, don't you think? Particularly something like another of Bosse's foxes, above top, and Adler's Prowling Cat, beneath (but Bosse is about a third of the price, new or original).

I love this strange fish shaped egg-cup, below, from the 1960s.

Walter Bosse was born in Vienna in 1904. He originally trained as a ceramicist, and created the bulk of his work between the 1920s and 1960s. The pieces are handcrafted in solid brass and hand finished to a golden sheen with black patina, a style that Walter Bosse made his own. The figures that use it, like the little fish above, were part of what was known as the Black Golden Line.

As Bosse's online biography says, the "friendly and optimistic figures also show a sense of keen observation and character. Their expressiveness and economy of detail tell a story deeper than that of mere collectibles." Nicer still, Bosse said his aim with these little animals was "to make as many people as possible happy."

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