Rare Miniature Porcelain Trinket Box
BON JOUR ~ BLACK CATS
Zell Germany c 1900
This is a very scarce transfer printed trinket box, originally part of an early desk set or childs play set, circa 1900. Moulded of porcelain printed in black and cold painted in brilliant shades of green black blue and red, the tiny lidded box measures 2-3/4 inches long and stands about 1-1/4 inches tall with the lid in place.
The edge of the box lid is painted with a scalloped green border. The central image is a pair of black cats dressed with big red bows. The man cat is smoking a pipe and his wife, the lady cat, is sewing a garment. The lid bears the legend BON JOUR. The piece was part of a series which featured black cats doing uncat-like things (shaking hands, picking flowers, etc) in the daytime and the nighttime.
Black cats are a sign of GOOD LUCK in most of Europe and England and little sets like this were playful gifts for children. These cat images were knock offs of the English cat illustrations by Louis Wain. It was probably made in Germany, probably by Zell, in the late 19th or early 20th century. It is unmarked except for an impressed mold number 1670. A similar design (though slightly larger and made of earthenware) with identical images was made by Bristol Pottery in England (and before that by Wemyss) with the permission of Louis Wain. The ceramic pattern at Wemyss and Brisol was named Cats and Dog and was attributed, often signed, by the ceramic artist George Stewart.
The piece is in great condition with no chips cracks or repairs. A wonderfully whimsical early folk art ware with animals. Children's antiques ceramic wares with black cats are quite scarce and highly sought after. Beautifully executed transfer, a delightful example of primitive childrens toys, a delicious celebration of childhood.