The most frustrating thing about trying to catalogue the ‘open’ editions from Connoisseur is that their backstamps (unlike those on the limited editions) don’t always include the issue/introduction year.
For example, if you didn’t happen to know – from a price list or other dated Connoisseur advertising – that the Azalea Blossom was part of a series called ‘Garden Blossoms’ that was issued in 1983, you’d have no clue. The circled J refers to the year in which that particular, specific piece was created. Again, without access to the code (which will eventually appear here in a post) you wouldn’t know that J means a production (not introduction) date of 1989.
On the other hand, the Almond Blossom’s stamp is more helpful.
Because I cannot determine the issue year for all of the open editions shown below, I’ve arranged them in alphabetical order by sculpture name. And, as always, keeping my fingers crossed for an unexpected trove of dated Connoisseur advertising from the 1980s and 1990s to unexpectedly turn up (but am not holding my breath.)
Almond Blossom by Diane Lewis is a non-limited edition issued in 1984; it is 4.75″ high and was part of the English Countryside series which seems to have run from 1982 to 1984.
Apple was one of the components of the limited-edition Fruit Basket from the 1980s but with a blossom added to this stand-alone non-limited piece. It is 3” high and 3.5” wide, including the blossom and leaf. I don’t know whether the other pieces in the basket (orange, lemons, and grapes) were also offered as open/non-limited pieces as well; if so, I have not yet seen any.
The rich purple Aster is 5.5” high. This is Aster nova-angliae, the New England aster, which is the parent of a number of garden hybrids. Blooming season is in September and October, prime time for migrating butterflies.
Avondale, from 1988, is 6.5″ high and includes marsh gentian, kingcups and frogbit. The gentian and kingcup are wetlands plants but the frogbit is a true aquatic, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae.
Azalea Blossom was produced in three color versions: yellow, white, and red. It is approximately 5” high and was a non-limited edition in 1983. This study was part of the Garden Blossoms series.
The diminutive Blackberry study is only 3″ high. It was part of the European Wildflower Collection designed by Aileen Burton during the 1980s, but I do not have a start date for that group.
Black-eyed Susan, 5.75” high, from 1990. A tough prairie plant widely naturalized as well as cultivated, Rudbeckia hirta blooms for most of the summer. Many garden cultivars have been developed from this native plant.
Blue Columbine depicts a graceful Aquilegia. This was part of the International Wildflower Collection (“international” in this case meaning the United States) by Diane Lewis during the late 1980s. It is 6.5″ high.
California Poppy, 6” high. Eschscholzia californica sets western coastal hillsides ablaze with orange throughout the summer. It’s also a versatile garden plant, either for a wide swath of brilliance or weaving through taller sun-loving perennials or annuals.
This dainty yellow Carnation designed by Aileen Burton is probably from the mid-1980s; the auctioneer did not respond to my request for a photo of the backstamp or other information.
Part of the Garden Blossoms series, the Cherry Blossom appeared in 1983. It is 4.5″ high. This represents the familiar double flowering Japanese cherry, probably ‘Kwanzan.’
This unusual small Cherry Blossom was reportedly (though not confirmed by any studio sources) part of a series that was created in a low profile for use with table settings. It is only about 2.5” high, which makes it slightly less than half the height of the 1983 piece shown above. It is possible that this one was exclusive to a certain retailer.
The Chrysanthemum appears in the glowing golden hues of autumn. It is 4.5″ high and was introduced in 1984.
Cowslips was part of the 1983 English Countryside series and is 6.25” high. The cowslip (Primula veris) is a familiar sight in early spring over much of the temperate regions.
The purple Crocus was designed by Aileen Burton and is part of her mid-1980s European Wildflowers Collection. This open edition is approximately 5” high.
Cyclamen, 4.5” high and wide, was part of the English Countryside series and depicts Cyclamen coum. Cyclamens are very useful both as houseplants and in the garden, where it will naturalize into a groundcover when happy.
Dandelions appeared in 1984; this bane of those seeking the perfectly groomed lawn is 5” high.
Just like the actual classic spring-flowering tree, Dogwood was available in two colorways (white and pink.) It is 5″ high overall. The limited-edition counterpart to this piece was also produced in both colors.
Eastervale contains bluebells, cowslips, and a single yellow daffodil. It 8” high and was introduced in 1988.
Evening Primrose is 5.5” high and was introduced in 1990 as part of the the American Wildflowers series that Connoisseur did for the National Wildflower Research Center. This is the flower that appears on the logo of that organization. The pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa, blooms from spring to summer. Despite its common name, the flowers are often open during the day. It is native to the prairies and open woods in the central plains of the USA from Missouri to Mexico.
Connoisseur had previously produced another Evening Primrose which was not part of the American Wildflowers collection, although it is the same size (5” high.) This is Oenethera pallida, the white evening primrose that opens white during the sunset hours and fades to pink the next day.
Part of the Garden Blossoms series is the Flowering Crab, which is 4″ high.
Issued in 1985, the single white Gardenia is 3″ high x 7.5” long.
The delicate Harebell is a porcelain poem of simple grace, standing 6.25″ high. It was part of the International Wildflowers Collection.
At 7.5″ high, the vibrant Hibiscus single bloom is larger than typical for an open edition. It dates from 1984.
The small open-edition Honeysuckle is 5″ high and was part of the English Countryside series. There was also a limited-edition honeysuckle study as well.
This absolutely delightful little three-inch-high sculpture is called Hop and Hip. It was part of the mid-1980s European Wildflower Collection designed by Aileen Burton.
Indian Blanket, 6.5” high, was part of the 1990 American Wildflowers series. Gaillardia pulchella is widely known as “blanket flower” and also as “firewheel” because of the pattern and color of the petals. Fond of sandy soils in open meadows, it blooms from late spring to early summer and is native to fields from Nebraska and Texas/Arizona and as far west as Colorado.
This is one of several different iris studies by Connoisseur. Titled simply as Iris (although some may be titled “Bearded Iris”), it is 9.5″ high and was available in four colorways according to the studio’s brochure: lavender, white, yellow or blue. A replica of this piece may have been sold by the non-original studio during the late 1990s in a peach-pink-blushed colorway, so careful examination of the backstamp of any that are not white, yellow, blue or lavender is essential.
Violets, primula and the always-welcome snowdrops are combined in Masefield by Aileen Burton. Standing 4.5″ high, this was introduced in 1988.
The delightful pink Penstemon, 6.5” high, was designed by Wendy Green for the 1990 American Wildflowers series. This western native is widespread in mountains, prairies and gardens in a range of colors. The genus name means “five stamens.” Penstemons are fine plants for xeriscaping and are an essential part of any hummingbird garden!
Periwinkle, a non-limited edition approximately 5” high from 1982, is another study within the English Countryside series.
The charmingly named Pinkney’s Green sports the Cheddar pink (dianthus), cyclamen and periwinkle. It is 5.75″ high. Designed by Aileen Burton, it appeared in 1988.
Plum Blossom was another resident of the Garden Blossoms series of the early 1980s.
The single Poinsettia was an open edition in either 1987 or 1988 (exact issue year uncertain.) It is between 4″ and 5″ high and was made in three colors although, like its limited-edition counterpart, most were red.
Potomac Princess depicts the single flowering Yoshino cherry; the name references the famous cherry blossoms along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. which bloom in early April. This dainty 1988 study is only 3.25″ high.
Primroses is another dainty (3.75” high) component of the English Countryside series of the early 1980s.
Quince Blossom, circa 1983, was part of the Garden Blossoms series. It is approximately 4.5” high and represents the ornamental (Chaenomeles) species, often called ‘Japanese quince.’ Although this study appears to be golden yellow in Connoisseur’s advertising photographs, the actual color is indeed a light orange. This particular color can appear differently according to the lighting conditions; strong bright light mutes the orange tones and brings out the yellows. Nevertheless, only one colorway of Quince Blossom was produced.
The Rocky Mountain Iris was part of the International Wildflowers series and stands about 6″ high. The species depicted is Iris missouriensis which is the only USA native iris species that is also found east of the Cascade Mountains/Sierra Nevada. The flower color ranges from a pale lavender-blue to a fairly intense purple-blue; another common name is “blue flag iris”.
Considering the level of detail shown in the Saguaro Cactus, it is surprising that it was not a limited edition. That center section was created and assembled entirely by hand, and my goodness, those spines! This is a relatively small piece at 4” high and 6” wide that has a big impact. Designed by Diane Lewis, it was introduced in 1988. Many thanks to the helpful reader who sent me these photos!
Simply Christmas was designed by Aileen Burton in 1987. This simply elegant study of a single Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) bloom flanked by holly measures 3” x 7”.
Delicate pristine white Snowdrops are always a most welcome sight at the end of every winter! A non-limited edition approximately 5” high, this was part of the English Countryside series in 1980.
A lovely clump of true-blue Spring Gentians, a 1983 addition to the English Countryside series.
Valley Stream, designed by Aileen Burton and issued in 1988, includes sweet white violets, clover blossoms, and Convallaria (lily-of-the-valley.)
Violets was part of the early-1980s English Countryside Collection and is approximately 5” high. The contrast of the delicate, dainty violets against the solid rock niche is particularly striking.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) is a lovely spring ephemeral that I have been embarrassingly unable to keep going in my own American garden. This International Wildflowers series study from the mid-1980s is about 5.5″ high.
Wild Columbine was another member of the International Wildflower Collection and stands 6″ high.
Wild Daffodils, 6″ high, was part of the English Countryside series and dates from 1983.
Wild Geranium is the tallest of the European Wildflower Collection, at 5.5″ high. This is the true geranium, not the summer bedding plants which are Pelargoniums. Designed by Aileen Burton.
Wild Pansy is the lovable Viola tricolor, also known as Johnny-jump-up… properly diminutive at only 3″ high. Part of the European Wildflower Collection and designed by Aileen Burton.
And of course, the tiny but so delicious Wild Strawberry, shown in various stages of ripening, also 3″ high. European Wildflower Collection, designed by Aileen Burton in the 1980s.
If I had to choose a personal “top ten” floral studies by Connoisseur, I know that Winter’s Tale would definitely be among them. Only six inches high, the combination of white poinsettia, white hellebores, and holly really defines the season for me. The fact that it also has the same title as one of my favorite Moody Blues songs is an extra bonus!
Now that the floral categories (Roses, Orchids, Flower Baskets, and Limited Editions that don’t fall into the other three groups) have been covered with this post, three Birds categories are next up. They will cover Birds of Prey/Parrots/Waterbirds first, and then move on to all other limited and non-limited edition bird studies.
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