Our antiques expert appraises Goldscheider ceramic figurines to determine what they're worth today.
My great-aunt gave me these three figurines; I’d guess she acquired them in the 1950s or ’60s. They’re all marked “Austria” and “Goldscheider” on the underside of their round bases. I’ve heard they could be rare and possibly worth something—what more can you tell me?
— M.D, Young America, Minnesota
What’s It Worth?
A: Indeed, Goldscheider figurines like these are collectibles; they represent the kind of figures that made Goldscheider Ceramics popular worldwide for more than half a century. Friedrich Goldscheider came from his native Bohemia to Vienna in 1885 and founded Goldscheider Manufactory and Majolica Factory. It grew into an influential producer of ceramic, terra-cotta and bronze objects, with famed sculptors designing many of the vases, animal figurines, ashtrays, female masks and statuettes. The company produced well over 9,000 different designs.
Working with sons Walter and Marcell, Friedrich expanded the business in the 1920s and ’30s to Paris, Berlin, Florence and Leipzig, setting standards and styles for Art Deco ceramics and winning many national and international awards. Among them was the grand prize at the 1937 Art & Craft Paris Exposition, the last before World War II.
Just a year later, the Nazis seized the business and the Goldscheiders, who were Jewish, fled Austria. Under other leadership, the Vienna factory continued production. Meanwhile, the Goldscheiders began ceramic production in Trenton, New Jersey; that factory soon employed more than 100 people.
After the war, the Austrian government restored ownership to the Goldscheiders. By 1953, though, cheap competition from Japan and Italy forced the closure of both the U.S. and Austrian factories.
Brightly painted, ultrafeminine figurines like yours remain a lasting legacy of the company. Sometimes called “glamour girls for the middle class,” they captured some of the avant-garde dances of the 1920s. Although mass-produced, they were well-crafted—molded, fired and painted freehand in oils.
The impressed back-stamp on the underside of the bases indicates that all three of your figurines were made between 1937 and 1941.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For the value of each figurine, see the captions in the photos above.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)