German-style Paper Mache from Original MoldsBy

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.

image

Fig. 1 New eight-inch two-piece paper mache candy box. Well molded detail and hand painted. The rooster figure is based on the rooster Chanticleer, in a play by the same name.

image

Fig. 2 New candy box with top removed showing the separate pieces. Retail price for this item is $25.

image

Fig. 3 A blond haired boy looks out from a rooster costume. Very well painted with expressive life-like facial details and eyes.

image

Fig. 4 Incised mark on the Chanticleer candy box. The mark is found on the bottom of the top piece. An attached tag explains that Bethany Lowe has designed, "A unique collection of holiday memorabilia to warm your hearth and home." This mark presumably appears on other reproductions of vintage holiday items.

image

Fig. 5 The new eggs open in half at the center. The paper lining inside the eggs fluoresces bright white under long wave black light.

image

Fig. 6 The mark "Made in Germany" repeats several times as part of the printed pattern on the paper that lines the inside of the eggs.

image

Fig. 7 Mother rabbit heating eggs in skillet.

image

Fig. 8 Teacher rabbit giving egg painting lesson.

image

Fig. 9 The new eggs also have the monogram of a vintage toy maker/importer which was copied from the lithographs on the original eggs. The mark has not been identified.