Confusing Black Figure String HoldersBy

Confusing Black Figure String Holders

At first glance, this 9″ wall string holder appears to be a vintage 1930s-1960s product. It was available in 2001 from at least one mail order catalog for $37. Similar authentic figural black memorabilia wall string holders can sell for $175-$245.

Most original black figural string holders are made of pottery, plaster or a natural fiber composition. This new string holder is a cast resin, or plastic. It is the same plastic used in a similar figural mammy string holder available a couple of years previous to this one. Both this string holder and the mammy piece are painted in flat dull colors which are "distressed" to appear old.

One of the ways to detect this new piece is by shining a light into the hanging hole or the string hole. Both of these holes are drilled leaving a raw edged cylinder. Similar holes in most originals are made during casting and have smooth sided cylinders. The insides of old holes are almost always the same color as the surrounding surface surrounding the hole. Backs of this new piece are painted a pale brown to imitate the appearance of vintage pottery or composition. The holes left by drilling are white which is in contrast to the surrounding painted surface.


Fig. 1 New 9″ painted string holder. Surface distressed to appear aged.


Fig. 2 Back side of new string holder. Hanging hole and string hole (arrows) are drilled through the painted surface and show white.