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Some Favorites
by Judith Lile

Schoenhut animals and figures have, I'm beginning to think, infinite variety.  Specializing in them as a dealer and working on my own collection for over 12 years, I am appreciating more and more the individual and particular qualities that many of the pieces have.  Sometimes it's the skill and artful talent of the carver, sometimes it's the richness or subtlety of color, sometimes it's the sculptural form;  often it's the expression on their faces that gives them a human range of attitude and emotion.  Sometimes it seems to be just plain error that results in a cross-eyed goofy look or a crooked, endearing one.  

Here are some of my favorites:

Early Boxed Set


This came from an auction in Germany.  It arrived complete with 3 clowns, elephant, donkey, and all the accessories, except the flag.  The condition was excellent, fortunately, because the auction house pictures weren't very clear and the descriptions were in German!  Inside the box lid are pasted two catalogue pages showing illustrations of the set, no.20/26-- the three different clown costumes, the blanketed elephant and donkey, and the accessories. I've never heard of this before-- a clarification, perhaps, for the European market? 



"Jolly Jigger"


This paddle toy, called the "Dude," is the rarest item in my Schoenhut collection (including the Teddy Roosevelt people).  The 1914 catalogue describes the figure as "12 inches high...held in a dancing position on a reversible support."  It is "played by striking the rear end of the platform with the fingers of one or both hands" and " dances the most imaginable difficult steps."  Overall it is 21" long and 6" wide.  It's lots of fun to play, holding the paddle on your knees while making the "Dude" dance and tap his shoes against the wood. 



Transitional Ostrich
A painted-eye, transitional, style lll
 ostrich that has it all.  An elegant 
form, a haughty expression, and a 
roughened "feathery" texture of 
aging and intermingled greys, browns, 
and blacks.  He's great!


GE Buffalo

This glass-eyed buffalo, for sheer beauty 
of the carving, and of the combination 
of colors on his face.


Earless Clown

A style 1 earless clown, in his 
modest costume, looking like 
Charlie Chaplin, innocent, 
charming, and a little devilish.


Polar Bear Face

Another painted-eye piece, 
( the result, maybe, of  a 
day-dreaming worker), whose 
eyes are way out of line, whose 
mouth is crooked, and whose 
polar bear nose is snubbed.  
But who couldn't love this face?



     Mary and Ringmaster
A style 1 Mary, my "moon-faced 
Mary," who could be your cousin.  
Notice the top and bottom 
rows of teeth.  And a 
style 11 ringmaster--the liveliness 
in his eyes and smile just make you laugh.



PE Tiger
The carving of the head and face of 
this painted-eye tiger is so deft and 
forceful.  I think he has all the 
craftsmanship and flair of the earlier, 
more painstakingly produced pieces.


Edward Hicks Lion

My all-time favorite is this style 11 lion, 
the essence of folkiness with his 
simple, sweet gaze, his sort of dumb 
look.  I call him  the the "Edward Hicks" 
lion and I'm  looking for an equally folky 
lamb who can lie down with him.


More favorites coming in the future.  

Thanks for looking---Judith