A delicate figurine with a Californian pedigree

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This Heirlooms of Tomorrow figure was made in California in the 1940s or 1950s. COURTESY PHOTO

Throughout the millennia of human existence, figurines have been a constant.

Some, like the ancient Venus of Willendorf, may have had significance as religious or fertility symbols.

Others, like the exquisite porcelains of Meissen and Chelsea, gave style to the rococo salons of royalty in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fairings and other inexpensive pottery figurines from Staffordshire in England brought some color to otherwise bleak 19th century working-class homes.

This continues into contemporary times, with fancy porcelain figurines of Lladro, as well as action figures from the world of video games and comics.

In between are the Hummels that our mothers and grandmothers collected, as well as a range of porcelain made in the United States and Japan to mimic the finest works of Europe.

It is to the latter category that this figurine belongs, shared by reader Sue Krug of Fort Myers.

“This doll was given to my mother by my father in the 1940s or 1950s, I think,” writes Ms. Krug. “Neither my sister nor I have ever seen anything like it and we wonder what you can know about it and what its value might be. “

Scott SIMMONS

Scott SIMMONS

This figurine and others like it were undoubtedly created by companies formed in response to WWII – it was impossible to obtain trinkets like this in Europe, where so many models were originally made. , and in Japan, where so many European models were emulated for export to the United States. Even though the war was on, people wanted and still needed consumer goods, like figurines and other decorative accessories.

Unlike older European and Japanese figurines, this one is clearly marked with the name of its maker, Heirlooms of Tomorrow.

According to online sources, Heirlooms of Tomorrow was founded in 1944 by William Bradley in Manhattan Beach, California. The company produced head busts and Dresden type figurines from 1944 to 1955. I didn’t find much about the company, but they made a series of lace figurines like this lady.

The painting and modeling of these figures is quite good, although the parts are not as thin as some of their European counterparts. The hands are particularly well modeled.

It was probably new when Mrs Krug’s mother received it.

Alas, these figures are delicate – the lace edging – yes, it’s molded from real lace – and those delicate fingers break easily, so it’s hard to find a perfect piece. Mrs. Krug notes that her figurine has a few tokens.

And, unfortunately, there isn’t much demand for fancy figurines – young people don’t buy them in large quantities.

While doing sleuths online, I see ads for similar numbers on eBay and Ruby Lane priced around $ 20 to $ 75, with most selling in the $ 25 to $ 35 range. Damage affects value, so I would expect this figure to be priced at the lower end of the estimate.

It doesn’t diminish the sentimental value of a piece – my mom, sister and I kept figurines that my grandmother went to great lengths to mend with Elmer glue in the 1940s, 50s and 60s .

After all, who needs perfection when you can see such tangible proof of love like this?

Share your treasures!

Please send a clear photo or two to [email protected] and tell me how you acquired the piece and what makes it interesting or special to you. ??


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