Another New Jersey based ‘lost’ porcelain studio belonged to William Joseph Kazmar and his son. In the studio’s relatively short lifespan (1974-1985) they released approximately fifty designs, almost all based on wildlife and focusing in particular on the young of the various species. Like the Bronn studio, all were limited editions but the Kazmar edition sizes were much larger and the retail prices more affordable.
Although it’s known that Bill Kazmar worked for the Boehm studio starting in 1958, I’ve been unable to find out anything about his history before then. A quick search of the 1940 census for a William Kazmar, Kaczmar, Kaczmarek, etc. born in 1917 gives no result, so it’s likely that he came to the USA after the close of World War II – quite possibly from Poland or Austria. He may even have been among the contingent that came here in 1939 to work temporarily at the Polish Pavilion at the New York World’s fair (as did Boleslaw Cybis) and remained after the war broke out in Europe. Kazmar left Boehm in 1970 with the intention of establishing his own porcelain studio in Collingswood, NJ, near Philadelphia.
Kazmar and his son (also William) spent several years studying their subjects in detail and setting up their studio to work in both porcelain and metal. In November 1974 he registered his studio in New Jersey as Kazmar Wildlife Impressions; in preparation for this, he had entered into a contract with a division of Lunt Silversmiths called “Lunt Galleries.” Despite the name, Lunt Galleries was only a brand, not an actual store. The Lunt Galleries company acted as Kazmar’s exclusive distributor, producing advertising materials and supplying the sculptures to brick-and-mortar retailers such as Brielle Galleries and other independent gift shops and jewelers.
Lunt immediately launched an advertising campaign in 1974, including this photo of Kazmar and his son in their studio.
Thanks to the deep pockets of Lunt Silversmiths, the quality of the advertising materials easily matched those being produced by the larger studios (Cybis and Boehm.) Some of the brochures include the tagline “Wildlife Impressions in Porcelain and Wrought Metal.”
The studio’s logo depicted three sandpipers, probably representing Bill Kazmar, his wife, and son.
Kazmar’s dealer-display “sign” was very unusual; rather than the typical rectangular or square plaque, it was a small round box with a removeable angled top, approximately 4″ in diameter and only 2.5″ tall.
The ‘signing format’ on Kazmar pieces could vary but always included the sculpture’s name. However, that name did not always exactly match the “official” sculpture name. For example, the piece advertised as Snowy Egret Fledgling was often signed simply “Baby Egret.” The simplest signature style was the name + individual sculpture number + Kazmar signature.
Sometimes U.S.A. was added below the signature, sometimes not.
A few limited editions have their status spelled out. The significance of the five-digit number (11575) is unknown; I’ve been unable to find an alternate photo of this particular piece to compare.
Some pieces also have the Kazmar name as a mold impression, either on the underside or the top. This signature format also displays the edition size.
This mold impression is on the visible portion of the sculpture. Not all pieces had this.
In 1985 the Kazmar studio was destroyed by a fire and was not restored. Kazmar then turned to the Franklin Mint and created three known designs for them, the first being issued in 1986. The other two appeared in 1989. I have not found any other Kazmar/Franklin Mint issues but would be happy to add them; there is a direct contact form on the About the Chatsworth Lady page.
The Kazmar designs can be roughly divided into three genres: baby animals; wildlife studies exhibiting more detail; non-wildlife subjects; and Franklin Mint designs. Below is a sampling of each.
The baby animals are very similar to those produced at the same time by Boehm: relatively simple designs requiring a minimum number of mold components, and no hand-formed elements such as flower petals and leaves. It’s likely that Kazmar used a hardpaste porcelain formula similar to Boehm’s, especially since that was what he had worked in for so long there. Unlike Boehm’s young-animals series, though, Kazmar ‘s were sold as numbered limited editions.
The Sea Lion Pup is 7″ high. This is a good example of a piece that probably required only four mold components (body, two flippers, tail, and base) to produce. Edition size not known.
The Lynx Cub was an edition of 600 and is 7.5″ high.
The Great Green Macaw Fledgling is marked simply “Macaw” on the bottom. Six and a half inches high, this was an issue of 400 and the Spring 1980 Brielle Galleries catalog advertised it at $325.
Here are a couple of composite galleries of baby animal studies. All are between 6″ and 7″ high. Clockwise from top left: Juvenile Llama (edition of 325), Hippo, White Tiger Cub (edition of 400) and Snowy Owl Fledgling.
Clockwise from top left: Snowy Egret Fledgling, 1977 (some signed “Baby Egret”); Golden Eagle Fledgling (edition of 700, priced at $180 in 1977);Harp Seal Pups, 1977; and Polar Bear Cubs.
The Beaver Kitten is an example of a slightly more elaborate baby-animal piece, because the leaves – and possibly the twig itself – needed to be made by hand instead of cast from a mold. It is 5″ high and sold for $335 in 1978.
This Pair of Black Faced Lambs was created as a companion/set piece but they were sold separately, as an edition of 600 each. The standing lamb is named Patience, is 6″ x 6″ and sold for $110. Prudence, reclining, is 4″ x 6″ and was priced at $95.
Other Wildlife Studies
The other wildlife studies were often a step up from the baby animals in size and/or complexity. Edition sizes are given where known. By the way, very few Kazmar designs included a wood base.
The charming Bobcat Family was one of Kazmar’s largest pieces, at 13″ x 14″.
A sleek Ermine is 6″ high and 9″ long overall.
Will the snail escape the hungry Hedgehog? This was an issue of 200 that sold for $265 in 1980. Slightly less than 6″ high.
The Ladder Backed Woodpecker is shown here in color and in plain white bisque. Whether the white was actually offered as a retail edition is unknown; this may be an “escaped” unpainted example. This piece is 9″ high.
Another bird study, the Saw Whet Owl, is almost 8″ high and 11″ wide. This is a design that I think would have benefited greatly from an accompanying wood base.
An alert Snowshoe Hare, 8.5″ high.
Red Fox, 6.5″ high.
The Lesser Panda (properly Ailurus fulgens, often called the Red Panda) was an edition of 400 and is 8″ high. Another name for this panda is “firefox” (no, not the browser.)
These Netherland Rabbits look a bit like youngsters to me, especially the one that clearly needs to take a nap! The piece is 5″ high.
Perhaps the most unusual mammal that Kazmar sculpted was the Platypus and Perch which is 8″ high. This was a relatively small(ish) edition of only 250.
Some of the Kazmar animals were given personal names. This is Tex the Armadillo who was an edition of 600 and measures 7″ x 7″.
Truffles the Pig is 8.5″ high overall, and was an edition of 200 that sold for $575 in 1980.
Several interesting animals are shown in this grouping. From left (after Tex’s backside) the Wood Duck is being gazed thoughtfully (and perhaps hungrily) upon by the Persian Kitten as the Roadrunner speeds past below, unnoticed by feline eyes. The Kitten was an edition of 500, and the Wood Duck is one of a male/female pair.
Here are a few studies that depart a little bit from the expected Kazmar mold (no pun intended.)
The Chimpanzees study was created as a small edition of only 100 to commemorate the Chinese Year of the Monkey in 1980. It is 10″ high and sold for $875 that year.
This study of a baby chick held in a man’s hand is called Nature’s Bond and was an edition of 200.
The Mother Giraffe and Colt head pair is one of relatively few Kazmars that came with a wood base. The mother giraffe head is 11″ high and the colt’s is 7.5″. Like the pair of lambs, there were 450 made of each, although I doubt that these were sold separately because the top of the base is recessed to fit around the bottom of the pieces. The impressed initials BJK stand for Bill J. Kazmar.
Two pieces that were definitely sold as a unit were the Teddy Bear and Alphabet Block. This was an edition of 700. The bear is just over 7″ high and is almost 7″ across the bottom.
It’s unusual to see a Kazmar human figure and I wonder if there were more than the two shown below. Both of them were small editions of only 100 pieces and both are about 9″ high. It would be very interesting to discover more of these.
Isabella wears a very detailed antebellum-style wide hoop skirt, and a sweet expression.
Danielle is a country girl but is likewise surprisingly detailed in the mold and decoration. I would estimate, given the small edition size and level of detail, that these would have sold for at least $500 while produced.
It’s too bad that the text of a newspaper ad placed in a December 1974 edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer by the Herschedes jewelry store did not include a photo, because this may have been one of the most expensive of Kazmar’s designs. The study being offered was Pond Life:
A colorful Bluegill is shown with his only native western cousins, the Sacramento Perch . . . these Sunfish live among the Pondweed for protection from larger fish … the crayfish resting on a rock is one of the staples in their diet . . . William Kazmar, the artist, is not only a student of Ichthyology but an avid fresh water fisherman … he shows us what few have ever seen, life at the bottom of a fresh water pond.
This sculpture was 9″ high and 11″ wide. An edition of 100, it was priced at $1650. My guess is that this was a study that combined porcelain and metal elements. If anyone has a photo, please do share!
Designs for The Franklin Mint
The final Kazmar designs date from the end of the 1980s; these were produced and sold by the Franklin Mint.
This lion cub and lamb is called Peace and was released in 1986. This was likely a one-off (not part of a series.)
The Franklin Mint fish again combine porcelain and metal. Both were released in 1989. This is the Golden Carp which is 10″ high and 6.5″ wide as viewed from the side.
The dimensions of the Angelfish were not given but is likely to be a bit taller and definitely wider. Notice the little turtle exploring the rocks.
Bill Kazmar’s talent was not limited only to porcelain and metal. In addition to oil painting he was also a talented woodsmith.
This vibrant painting of a cardinal and magnolia tree is among the collection of one of Mr. Kazmar’s three daughters.
One of Bill Kazmar’s miniature grandfather clocks crafted entirely by hand except for the ‘movement’ behind the handpainted porcelain clockface.
William Kazmar died in early 1997, shortly before his 80th birthday. His wife Barbara passed away in 2008. It’s not known whether their son William continued their tradition of art porcelain.