Although birds formed the majority of sculptures that Granget designed for the Hutschenreuther studio (see Part 1), animal and human sculptures were not entirely neglected. This second of my two-part Granget overview will also look at some items he designed for mass market manufacturers.
Animals and Fish for Hutschenreuther
As with his birds, the Granget-for-Hutschenreuther animals fall into two categories: glazed and bisque (matte) finish. Let’s begin with a few felines.
The larger of these two Siamese cats is about 8” tall and 4” wide. One source cites this as dating from 1955. The semi-crouching cat is 5” tall and 6.5” wide. Both cats bear the green ‘lion’ stamp.
Although this 7” long wild cat was identified by a UK auction house as a ‘puma’ in 2016, the gray color most closely matches that of the Jaguarundi – a relative of the puma and cougar, whose fur does often go through a gray phase. Jaguarundis are found in South America and also the southern parts of Texas near the Mexican border.
This colorway clearly represents a black panther. This one was not placed on a base.
Here is a cheetah colorway. Cheetahs can be distinguished from leopards by the appearance of their spots and also by their body shapes.
This different and larger sculpture (6” high and almost 19” long) does represent a leopard. It is stamped G. Granget in the mold.
A much smaller piece is this zebra which is not even five inches high. (4.75” x 4.25” x 2”)
This Schnauzer is impressed Granget on his belly. He is slightly more than six inches high. The example shown bears the HR stamp, but two different examples of the exact same piece bear the lion stamp instead.
A graceful whippet, standing 5.75” tall and 6.5” long.
Who can seriously resist a panda? This friendly fellow is 15.75” high and dates from the late 1960s.
An 18-design series called “Paradiso” was also produced, all small figures in glazed white porcelain. The elephant is 3” high and 3.25” long. Other known figures are a duck, an owl, a fox, a bear and a pig.
Amazing artistry and grace are displayed in this Gazelle Group which is 12.5” (32 cm) high. This piece sold for 450 Euros in 2017.
The single gazelle is only 5.25” tall but just as graceful. As of this writing, there is one being offered on eBay (not the one in this photo) for $299 USD. It bears the green lion/1814 stamp plus two mold impressions: G. Granget and HR.
The pike can be one of the most fearsome hunters in the fish kingdom. This one is 6” long and 2” high.
A perennial favorite of both sportsmen and diners is the colorful rainbow trout. Granget’s is 3” high and 5” long.
The next five examples were produced in bisque porcelain.
Playful Moment depicts a blue whale and her calf and was an edition of 350. The seller of this piece cited 11” as the only dimension given, without specifying whether that refers to the height or the width.
This majestic stag stands about 18” high and is titled Brunftzeit which translates to “Mating Season” in English.
The plain white bisque animals seem to be more in evidence than the decorated (painted) ones.
These playful seals are clearly enjoying a Sea Frolic! This edition of 500 measures 15” x 25” x 8” high.
Another multi-sea-animal study, this time with five dolphins. This too was an edition of 500. Its dimensions are almost identical to that of Sea Frolic. One source cites the production date of this edition as “late 1960s.”
The white bisque mare named Halla was another edition of 500, possibly from 1970. She is 16” high and 17” long.
This is a portrait of Ghazal, an Arabian stallion imported from Egypt to Germany during the 1950s. In this case the porcelain color is accurate because Ghazal was indeed white! It is 14.5” high and 18.5” long.
Granget with both Ghazals together.
At least some of the editions were available in a choice of white bisque or color, as this Angelfish shows. This design is 4.5” high and wide.
Human Studies for Hutschenreuther
Most of the human studies that I have been able to find by Granget are glazed. The first three examples represent a clown, or pierrot.
This is 11.5” high.
This piece represents Papageno, a character from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. It is 10.5” high.
This one is much smaller, at barely 7” high. The accompanying literature identifies this as being from 2002.
This fellow could easily be one of the Three Musketeers! He is 11.5” tall.
A fox hunter and his mount take a fence whilst in hot pursuit. Measuring 7” high and 8.5” long, with Granget’s name impressed on the underside of the base.
This graceful ballerina in the classic ‘Dying Swan’ pose is 7.5” high, 11” long, and was available in either a pure white or decorated glazed finish.
The glaze is not as evident in this photo of a ballet couple, but it is there. This study is about 10” tall.
Two glazed sports trophies, one for tennis and the other for swimming, both 11” high.
The only two bisque human subjects that I have been able to find a photo of are both head studies.
A white bisque bust of William Shakespeare at 7” high, 4.5” wide, and 5” deep.
This bisque self-portrait plaque may have been a Hutschenreuther promotional piece. Unfortunately, no size was provided nor any photo other than this one. The archived description mentions that it was “a part of Hutschenreuther’s art dealer collection” and that it is “marked on the backside with gold Lion sticker of Art Department. Other marking is Granget’s signature in black on the backside.”
Those who are interested in Granget’s fine art porcelain work may find the book The Magic Of Nature: The porcelain figures of Gunther R. Granget useful. (However, there is no English-language version; I have translated the title) It was published in 2002 by the Deutsches Porzellan Museum in Hohenberg and is occasionally seen on eBay as well as online used-book sites such as AbeBooks and Alibris.
Mass Market Collectibles
The collectibles craze of the 1970s and 1980s provided ample opportunity for well-known (and not-so-well-known) artists and/or studios to obtain licensing agreements with one or more of the popular mass-marketing firms such as The Franklin Mint, Hamilton Collection, Bradford Exchange, etc. Granget designed a plethora of items which were produced in various mediums. Most were either plates or three-dimensional figures, although there were a few oddities as well!
The so-called “collector plates” were a mainstay of the industry during those decades and it seemed that new ones were released into the marketplace every month. The first Granget plates were produced by Hutschenreuther itself, in partnership with the Wallace Company (of silversmithing fame, although in this case it appears to have been only a marketing arrangement.)
The distinctive Granget porcelain plates were produced as an annual Christmas series and featured wildlife in a natural wintertime setting, sculpted in relief design against a blue background. They are 10” in diameter and were editions of several thousand per design, retailing between $75 and $90 – a far cry from the retail pricing of his fine art designs for the studio – from 1972 through 1978. Their price placed them competitively with the numerous other offerings in the collectible-plate genre at that time. Individual plates were not numbered, nor the issue size indicated; that information appeared on an accompanying certificate. Notice that some were produced in a choice of finishes: either bisque or a somewhat darker blue glazed version.
The plate shown above (Safe Together) was the first in the series as an issue of 5000 plates. Subsequent designs were: 1973, Gracious Gift (squirrel); 1974, Awakening (partridges); 1975, Astonished (rabbits); 1976, Joyous Meeting (wrens); 1977, Long Winter’s Night (polar bears); and in 1978, Spring Journey (foxes). The 1973 through 1977 plates were editions of 2500; the final design in 1978 was an issue of 1000.
Hutschenreuther seems to have experimented with a springtime plate series as well, although I have not been able to locate a photo or any mention of any other design than this Spring 1973 edition titled New Life.
In 1976 the studio took advantage of the American Bicentennial craze to issue a Granget plate called Freedom in Flight featuring the Bald Eagle. This 10” plate came in two versions. The standard edition (upper photo) of 5000 for $100 each, and the gold-on-blue smaller edition of 200 for $200 each. The stamp example is from the larger edition. This is a relief sculpted plate as well.
In the late 1970s Granget entered into a licensing contract with the Calhoun Collectors Society, one of the numerous aforementioned marketers who had jumped onto the lucrative “collectibles” bandwagon. Common practice was for the artist to receive a fee for whatever was designed, the rights to which were then assigned to the marketing company; sometimes the artist would receive a small royalty based on the subsequent retail sales but very often he or she did not. Among other items, Granget designed a set of four plates released in 1978 under the heading of The Four Seasons.
The plate titles are Voices of Spring (robins), The Fledgling (bluebirds), We Survive (woodpeckers), and Warmth (owls.) They are 8” in diameter and are the typical fired-decal, non-relief, mass produced collector plate so often seen.
Companies such as these pulled every marketing stunt in the book, and Calhoun was no exception. They enticed customers with not one, but two, editions during the same year: A “First Edition” production run of 5000 pieces, and also a “Charter Edition” (whatever that meant) of 17,500. The backstamps are slightly different. The First Edition has the logo of ‘Royal Cornwall China’, while the larger production run has the Calhoun Collectors Society logo as well. Royal Cornwall Ltd. was a major manufacturer of such plates for numerous collectibles marketers as well as items under their own branding, although I have been unable to determine exactly where they were located. However, since none of their items or literature include any “made in” attribution whatsover, it’s extremely likely that, despite their company name and logo, their factory was in Asia. The larger edition of the Four Seasons plates sold for $60 each.
Several Granget-designed metal plates in vermeil (a 24k gold plating over copper) were issued by Calhoun as well. These began with Freedom and Justice Soaring, touted as the first in their “American Heritage Series” in 1979. This was an issue of 15,000 that sold for $100 each.
This was followed by a plate showing mustangs (Wild and Free) in 1980 as an issue of 10,000 for $120; and one with a bison and calf in 1981 called Where the Buffalo Roam, an edition of 5000 for $125. The edition size is not shown on these plates, nor were they physically numbered.
Affordably-priced Granget-designed figures were also available in various brandings and materials.
Hutschenreuther partnered with The Hamilton Collection for this 1985 porcelain titled The Noble Swan. It was issued in the typical Hamilton edition size of 5000 and had an accompanying wood base into which the figure fit. Most pieces seen today for resale have long since parted company with their base. It is 7” tall.
The Double Eagle for Calhoun’s was gold plating over pewter, 8” high and 11” wide.
Pride of Lions, another Calhoun edition, was cited as being “cast in genuine bronze by the lost wax method” as an issue of 350. It is 7” high and 12” long and weighs about 5 lbs.
The seemingly endless parade of 1970s/80s collectibles from Calhoun included a Granget ‘North American Wildlife’ series made of pewter. This one is titled Arctic Fox.
An even simpler – and even cheaper to produce – series of tiny bronze figures was the Woodland Encounters series from Calhoun. These were sold as pairs; the above example is Skunk and Bluejay. The other pairs were Chipmunk and Butterflies, Fox and Gopher, Bear Cub and Beehive, Rabbit and Bunnies, and Owl and Mouse. Each came with a small narrative story of the “encounter” between the two animals. These pieces were quite small, averaging about 4” high or less.
This quartet of gilt mythological creatures – Unicorn, Pegasus, Griffin and Phoenix – was produced in 1980 as a series called Creatures of Legend and Myth. They are about 6” tall on their attached wood base; the advertising literature cites them as being “24k gold over metal” without specifying what the metal is. As with most such series at the time, these were sold on a subscription basis – in this case bimonthly over eight months at a price of $125 each. Quantity was 5000 per design.
A Granget design oddity about which I can find no further information is this frosted glass or crystal owl done for the mass-market company RECO. They mostly did plates (most are from the 1980s) but also ceramic figurines. The owl is 12” high and supposedly was an edition of 350.
ANRI Woodcarvings by Granget
The ANRI woodcarving studio was founded shortly after World War I by Alois Riffeser in the village of St. Christina in the Swiss Alps. His son Anton expanded the business’ network into the USA by partnering with Schmid who already had a wide distribution network. During the 1970s the studio entered into licensing agreements with various freelance artists such as Granget.
At their peak of production history, the ANRI studio employed more than 200 workers on site plus another 100 who worked at home making music boxes. The studio jumped onto the “plates” bandwagon by producing carved and painted wood ones designed by Juan Ferrandiz.
ANRI pieces are carved from various types of aged hardwood (maple, linden, walnut, chestnut, etc). The Granget designs were all done during the early 1970s. A check of the US Copyright records shows, for example “The mallard. Duck poised for flight. By Gunther Granget, author of the reproduction: Anri, S.P.A. Italy. Figurine on base, wood. (c) Anri, S.P.A., 20 Jan 72: HP 907.” The various designs all have copyright dates in 1972, 1973 and 1974 and several magazines published during those years carried ads for them.
Marks and tags on a typical Granget-for-ANRI carving.
These are the Partridges which were made in two different sizes. In 1973 a Kansas City Times ad from the Halls store stated that “Each subject is created in large and small sizes, in limited editions of 200 or 250 for the large and 1000 for the small.” It showed the Partridges as an example, with the small size (10″ x 4″ x 6″) priced at $550 and the large (20″ x 9″ x 13″) at $2400. Both of these prices were comparable to the retail prices of similar editions of porcelain sculptures from studios such as Boehm and Cybis.
The Lynx is carved from basswood and measures approximately 10” wide on its base.
Gunther Granget at ANRI examining the production of a Ring Necked Pheasant.
Two fine hunters: a Peregrine Falcon and a Fox with Young. (The circular red hangtag is not part of the carving.)
Among the other known Granget designs for ANRI are a Barn Owl, Roadrunner, Black Grouse, Golden Eagle, Mallard Duck, and Rooster. Most of these seen available online are located in Europe.
The Gold Staffa Stamps
I will end this brief overview with the truly bizarre tale of the Official State Birds “postage” stamps that were produced from Granget designs. The set was issued by Calhoun in 1989 with the advertising shown below:
They were priced at $40.50 for each of the 29 pairs of stamps (a total of $1174.50 for the complete set.)
This is the COA that came with the stamps.
An example of one of the stamps in the set, produced from designs by Granget. The first indication that something is not quite right with this offering comes from the fact that at least two of the birds are depicted with incorrect (or made-up) species names. Granget, being a lifelong naturalist, probably never had anything to do with the production after being paid for his designs and so most likely never saw these errors. But the bigger story has to do with the stamps themselves.
Stamps which purport to come from a country that doesn’t actually exist are known as “fantasy” stamps. Those which come from a real geographic place, but are not issued by the government of that location for use as actual postage, are called “bogus” or “Cinderella” issues. There is indeed an island named Staffa off the coast of Scotland, in the Inner Hebrides …. but it is uninhabited, as are many of the other islands in the same area. Some are designated wildlife refuges but others are not. I found this information about Staffa on a philately discussion board:
Alastair de Watteville owned the islet from 1972 to 1978 and wrote a booklet about it in 1998. The carriage labels/Cinderella stamps were started in 1968 by the boatmen transporting tourists to the islet. They could buy the labels for use on postcards sold by the boatmen. In 1974 the owner of the islet hired a contractor to produce stamps for the tourist trade. In 1976 a new boat was launched for the tourist trade and a letter box was placed on the islet for visitor use. All postcards sold on the boat and dropped in the box were transported to the Isle of Mull and entered the mail stream there.
Enter Mr. Clive Feigenbaum, a fellow notorious in philatelic circles for what can politely be termed “shady shenanigans” that got him in legal hot water on both sides of The Pond. Although there appears to be no direct corporate connection between Mr. Feigenbaum and the Calhoun Collectors Society, that company decided to jump on the “gold-stamp collecting” gravy train by issuing several sets of such items, including the bird series designed by Granget. Other similar Calhoun “gold”-stamp series included The Gold Nations of the World, The 13 Original Colonies, Mothers Day, ad infinitum… many purporting to be issued by the postal authority “from Staffa, Scotland.” In other words, Calhoun and de Watteville picked up Feigenbaum’s profitable ball and ran with it.
Indeed, one of several lawsuits filed against Calhoun’s in regard to their Staffa stamp issues was this one in 1976 regarding the Gold Nations of the World stamps, in which the Court found that:
Respondent [Calhoun Collectors Society] is conducting a scheme or device for obtaining money or property through the mails by means of false representations within the meaning of 39 U.S.C. 3005.
The general consensus is that all versions of Calhoun’s “gold Staffa stamps” are simply a cheap paper product with about 1 micron of gold plating added. The actual value of these stamps range (based on the current gold price) from a few cents to less than a dollar each. It is a shame that such a respected artist as Gunther Granget ended up (no doubt unwittingly) being indirectly drawn into Calhoun’s philatelic machinations. He should definitely be best remembered for the fine porcelain art sculptures that he designed for Hutschenreuther and Goebel.