An Unusual 19thC Stoneware Advertising Shop Window Display Figure


Origin: German/Austrian
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1900
Height: 32.5 inches
Width: 10 inches (at base)
Depth: 10 inches (at base)

The hand painted continental stoneware advertising figure of generous proportions designed to be displayed in a shop window, possibly in a German Apothecary, modelled as a boyish female with bun hair dressed in an apron standing proud with one arm on her waist, the other held upward holding an associated oversized pitch pine spoon, the whole standing on a puce green circular plinth base, hails from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The figure is in fair to good condition considering it is a large piece of stoneware, her colours remaining vivid, her face in super condition as is her dress, with some chips mainly to the back, with one to the elbow, and several on the base. She suffers much less to her front and was obviously previously positioned with her back to a wall explaining the chipping to the reverse.  She has one finger with loss and one repaired and the lacquer on her as a whole is flaking. The spoon is probably a replacement of an earlier spoon, or perhaps a different item altogether.

Now, much more of a rarity, models like these were more common in the late nineteenth and early to mid twentieth century, standing either in the window or out on the door, used for dramatic advertising effect. Examples of advertising figures from the late nineteenth century are more commonly found as tobacconist figures and they are usually of carved wood and thus this stoneware example would have been very expensive to make at the time.

The significance of the spoon as the prominent part of the figure, whether this is later or not, points to it being most likely used to advertise an apothecary chemist, or failing that a restaurant, bakers or delicatessen. In the 18th century, the table-spoon became an unofficial unit of the Apothecaries' system of measures, equal to 4 drams or 1/2 fluid oz. The spoon of course is also a culinary symbol of old.

This is a rare and unusual example of nineteenth century shop window display advertising and an amply sized decorative treat.