Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chalkware, Cheap and Chic

Carnival chalkware, sometimes called "poor man's porcelain," was comprised of mold-casted figures made out of calcined gypsum and was first advertised in America in 1768 by master Boston stonecutter Henry Christian Geyer. Today chalkware of this era is appreciated as folk art. 
More recently, chalkware was given out as carnival game prizes during the Great Depression through the 1950s, and took on the whimsical, somewhat slapdash appearance that collectors today love. The little lady above is from The Vintage Ruby's Nest shop on Etsy. 
This figurine, with her jaunty beret and pantsuit, dates to the 1930s. The glitter trim on her collar and belt is common for the era; glitter began to be applied to chalkware during this time. This figure is sometimes called a "sweater girl" by collectors. I found her at GasLamp Antiques, one of my clients in Nashville. 
Here, a sexier "sweater girl" is found on Ebay in this curvaceous female figure wearing pants.
Yes, even Jesus and Mary made it to the chalkware world. Oh, the strangeness of some tipsy sailor winning these for his girlfriend. From GasLamp Antiques. 


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