German-style Paper Mache from Original MoldsBy Mark Chervenka
German-style Paper Mache from Original Molds
New paper mache products from original molds continue to be made in late 19th and early 20th century styles. This group includes Easter-related designs released in early 2002.
Among the new items is an eight-inch two-piece candy box of Chanticleer, or rooster. The Chanticleer character was taken from the French play of the same name popular around 1900. The play was performed with men and women in rooster and hen costumes. The play was so popular that characters and costumes began to appear in commercial products such as packaging, Halloween costumes, toys and other accessories.
Unlike many new pieces which are sold as paper mache but are actually a cast synthetic resin, the Chanticleer box is true paper mache. It is light weight, has fine detail and is handpainted. Most new paper mache fluoresces under black light but not this piece.
Fortunately, the Chanticleer box does have a permanent mark. If you look at the bottom of the top piece (Fig. 4), you'll find the incised mark "© Bethany." The mark seems to imply the piece was made by a single artist on a small scale. Look closer at a removable paper tag and you'll find the piece is "Made in the Philippines." In other words, it's a mass-produced product like most other reproductions.
The only practical difference between this and a comparable vintage piece is the mark. If you see such an item offered over the internet, be sure and specifically ask what, if any, marks are on the piece.
Other new pieces aren't so clearly marked. A group of new paper mache containers shaped like Easter eggs, for example, are marked "Made in Germany" (Figs. 5-8). The mark appears printed in the paper that lines each egg. Each of the 4½ inch eggs has a different full-color Easter-related scene. The same scene appears on both sides of the eggs. Our samples cost $15 for a set of three eggs.
One of the ways to detect the new eggs is with a 10X loupe. Originals would have been lithographed; new eggs are printed in modern process color. In process color, tiny dots of red, blue, yellow and black are printed in various proportions to form all colors. In lithography, each color has its own printing plate or stone and colors are laid down as solid masses.
Probably the easiest way to separate the new eggs from old is with your black light. The paper lining the insides of the eggs fluoresces bright white.