Starting in the early 1990s the Cybis studio introduced a new collection called the ‘Hall of Fame’ editions, which are downsized replicas of selected sculptures that were completed or retired in the past. Because of the positive buyer response to the original sculptures, Cybis made the decision to sidestep their longstanding “never to be issued again” rule by creating a new version differing in size and certain decorative details from the original. The premise was that these would now be an option for collectors who either could not afford or cannot locate the original sculpture.
A recently-discovered copy of the letter Cybis sent to its retailers and which seems to be dated 1993 (unfortunately not a clear scan) says in part:
To all Cybis galleries:
Thank you for your enthusiastic response to our Cybis Hall of Fame collection created in honor of our founder Boleslaw Cybis’ 100th birth date.
Periodically throughout the 90s, reproductions of selected Cybis sculptures which have evolved from over the last half century will be considered for entry into the Cybis Hall of Fame. Selections are made based on (illegible) customer demand, (illegible), artistic achievement and strong appeal. Demand has been created not only by the old Cybis collector but also from new generations who have an appreciation for fine quality and are now discovering the wonderful artistic works of Cybis. The subjects are changed in size and decoration only and are produced in the same fine museum quality synonymous with Cybis.
The first sentence (giving the reason for the collection) is puzzling because Boleslaw Cybis was born in 1895; his 100th birthday would not have occurred until 1995, yet several Hall of Fame sculptures were issued several years before that. So I do take that purported explanation of the reason for the collection with more than a grain of salt!
My personal feeling is that it’s not really fair to the Cybis collector market to issue any (even slightly modified) reproduction of something that was originally stated never to be made again. I realize that others may feel differently, especially if they were unable to acquire the original version, and they would argue that as long as the buyer knows and understands that what he is buying is a Hall of Fame (HOF) piece and is happy with it, that’s all that matters. I do agree with that: Knowledge is everything! But whether one is in favor of the Hall of Fame concept or not, the important thing is to understand that the two versions are entirely different sculptures and thus they both should not be valued identically.
The primary way in which a Hall of Fame edition can be differentiated from the original edition is by size and possibly by a copyright date shown in the sculpture’s mould impression (if such a date is there). There may also be slight differences in the color or the presence or absence of some applied decorations, but that pre-supposes that the person looking at the HOF piece is already familiar with the appearance of the original! Unfortunately when these HOF sculptures are offered for sale by resellers they rarely include any designation which would indicate that they are not the original issue and the copyright date is not always cited in an online lislting. The reseller may have looked online, seen a photograph that appears to match “well enough” what he/she has in hand to sell, may or may not think to compare dimensions….and has absolutely no clue that two very similar but entirely separate versions of the piece exist, and that they are separated in age by decades.
For example, Cybis issued the original Madonna with Bird , seen in the Early Madonnas post, as an open edition (on a wood base) in 1956 and retired it about 20 years later; it was brought back in a different colorway in 1989 as a “Special Golden Anniversary Edition” which offered a base as an extra-cost option. However, it was brought back yet again, in a third colorway, during the 1990s as a Hall of Fame edition without any base. The original Madonna was 12” tall including the base (which was about 2″ thick, thus the sculpture itself was 9.5″ tall), and the HOF is 9.5” tall with no base…. thus it seems that the same mold was used for all three iterations.The coloration differences are in the hair (HOF’s is brown instead of the original’s light blonde) and in the dress (HOF has a white veil and pink shaded cloak). Someone who sees a HOF version for sale is likely to just assume that the base went missing somewhere along the line, especially if the seller doesn’t mention the in-mold copyright date. I am sure that many HOF pieces were, are and will be unwittingly sold without being properly identified as such, which is a shame because a buyer should be able to know exactly what they are purchasing.
Let’s look at their classic Head of Boy and Head of Girl busts as an example. This photograph below shows the original sculptures which were open editions produced only between 1963 and 1970 – a rather short time for an open edition. According to the 1979 Cybis catalog they both stand 10” tall including the square wood base; however, I have seen examples for sale ranging in cited size from 9.25″ to 9.75″! My own Head of Girl is 9.25″ high.
This photo shows the Hall of Fame versions, issued in 1991 as Head of Boy II and Head of Girl II which also are open editions and have a current retail price of $295 each on the Cybis site which now describes these simply as ‘Boy Head’ and ‘Girl Head’ under the HOF section. According to the Cybis website they stand 7 1/4” high on their wood bases. However, the auction house that offered this pair gave their heights at 6.75″! So in both cases there are some discrepancies between the heights given by Cybis and those given by sellers of the actual pieces. However, whatever the actual physical measurement, it’s clear that there is a noticeable size difference (about 2″) between the originals and their later replicas. (For more information on the origin of the Boy and Girl, see the When Is a Cybis Not a Cybis)
On the other hand, the seller of this example gave its height as 7 7/8″ overall, which is shorter than the original version but bigger than the HOF replica! So, is this the 1960s-70s original or the 1990s HOF replica? The wood base complicates, rather than clarifies, the issue because it’s not the kind of wood Cybis typically used. Also, as shown below, the grey felt that was always applied to the bottom of the Cybis bust-bases is missing:
So this could be an original head that was later attached to a different base….but base from what? Regardless of whether an original or HOF version, it certainly did not leave the Cybis studio looking like this.
Another interesting item is the placement of the signature; on the original Head of Girl pieces it was always behind her left shoulder, while this one is in the center. I’ve been hoping to find an undisputed HOF version to see whether Cybis added any mold marks that would clearly distinguish them from the 1960s ones, but the age of this one remains murky!
Anyway, the salient point is that the two editions are separated by almost 20 years, even when using the retirement date of the original issue and the introduction date of the HOF ones.
The following is a quick-reference list to all of the sculptures that the Cybis Studio has issued as Hall of Fame editions. It may be useful to those who are purchasing or selling Cybis and wish to know exactly which version of the sculpture they actually have. The height given is that of the Hall of Fame edition; also, in cases where I have the height of the original edition I have included that for comparison purposes. Keep in mind also that not all Cybis sculptures have the copyright year in the mold; and the older the piece, the less likely it is to have a copyright year on it.
If you are interested in the actual method by which Cybis produced these downscaled sculptures, see Upsize, Downsize (or, Honey I Shrunk the Cybis).
Names that are live links go to the post that contains a photograph of the actual Hall of Fame sculpture.
Hall of Fame versions of Closed Limited Editions:
BUFFALO II: 11.5” tall x 16” wide, an issue of 1000, currently $1975 on the Cybis website in either white or color versions. (This is a downscaled replica of the original American White Buffalo that was issued in the 1980s. The size of the original sculpture is 12.5” high x 19” wide.)
HOLY CHILD OF PRAGUE II: 16.75” tall, an edition of 50, currently $9975 on the Cybis website. (The original sculpture was 22” tall.)
LADY MACBETH II: This sculpture was issued and appeared on the Cybis website but no photograph or size is provided. It may have been between 11″ and 12″ tall so as to make it smaller than the original Lady Macbeth which was 13″ and is shown with the other Shakespeare studies.
LADY MACBETH III: 10” tall. This too had no photograph on the Cybis website and the only information provided was the height, that it is an edition of 1500 and her most current retail price is $1075.
LIBERTY II: 13” tall; no base. (The original sculpture was 18″ tall including a base.) It had an issue price of $1075 and is shown at $1575 on the current Cybis website.
LIBERTY III: this is included, but without any illustration or dimensions, in one late-2008 Cybis online price list. It is likely that it is between 10″ and 11″ tall, and probably does not have a base. Its price on that list was shown as $975. I’m assuming from the pricing that it is a limited edition HOF piece. It is not shown on the main website even though its predecessor (Liberty II) is. A similar situation exists with a couple of other pieces (the second replica selling out or being retired while the first replica is still available) but it is puzzling.
PERSEPHONE II: 12.5” tall, an issue of 500, currently $3500 on the Cybis site. (The original Persephone that was issued in the late 1980s is almost 15” tall. The shading on this version’s dress is pale lilac — not blue as in the original. Some of the flowers in this HOF version are roses; the original has daffodils. In this version there are tiny spring flowers atop the “moss” on the rocks upon which she sits; these do not appear in the original which has a vine with red berries.)
PERSEPHONE III: 10.5” tall, an issue of 1500, currently $2500 on the Cybis site. There is no photograph and I have never yet seen an example of this version and so do not know how the decoration differs.
RAPUNZEL II: 7” tall, an issue of 1500, now $795 on the Cybis site. (The original Rapunzel figures are 8.5″ high and are shown in their three different colorways — pink, apricot, and lilac — in the fairytales post.) I do not as yet know the color of this HOF version of Rapunzel.
CHESS PIECES: King, 6”; Queen, 5 3/4”; Bishop, 5 1/4”; Knight, 5 3/4”; Rook, 5”; and Pawn, 5 1/4”. Each piece is sold separately, all are limited editions of 1000 and are currently shown on the Cybis website for $375. These are downsized replicas of the chessmen in the 1972 and 1979 Chess Sets. The original pieces ranged in size from 7” to 8” tall; the smallest original piece – the Pawn – was slightly larger than the largest HOF piece which is the King. The originals are shown in the Chess Set post.
The Cybis website, which has not been updated since the end of 2008, also lists Eagle Dancer III in the Hall of Fame section; however there is no further information, nor any photo, other than the designation “0”. However, the fact that it was designated as “III” means that there must(?) have been a prior Hall of Fame edition of this piece, which would have been called Eagle Dancer II. Unfortunately I can find no information on either piece. The original Eagle Dancer from 1984 was 21″ high and is shown in North American Indians.
Hall of Fame versions of retired non-limited editions:
BUNNY, ‘LIBERTY’: 5.5” high. I have no idea why Cybis lists this identical sculpture in both the open edition category (within the Bunnies Collection) and also in the Hall of Fame Collection on their current website. Sizes are decoration are identical for both, as is the pricing of $195; perhaps it is simply an advertising error or the wrong photograph was attached to one of them.
MADONNA WITH BIRD II: 9.5” high. No base. 9.5” high and has no base. Current Cybis price is $675. (The original sculpture was 12” high including the wood base to which it was attached) Thes Hall of Fame version has brown hair and a white veil. The original has blonde hair and a blue tinted veil, and there was a Golden Anniversary Edition as well… just to add to the confusion.
NATIVITY, HOLY FAMILY: 6.5” high. This sculpture is available in either color or white-and-gold, both priced at $595 currently. Unlike all of the other Hall of Fame pieces, this one is NOT THE SAME AS THE ORIGINAL sculpture of that name! The original two Cybis “Holy Family” pieces were produced only in the 1950s and both of those are entirely different sculptures from this one. This so-called Hall of Fame piece is merely a grouping of three (slightly downsized) individual figures from the second (current) Nativity Set, placed on a base. How Cybis can call this a “Hall of Fame” sculpture when it is merely a downsized assemblage of individual pieces currently in production is beyond comprehension. [End of rant]
CUPID BOWL: 6.5” high. This is actually a re-issue of a one of a kind piece that was originally presented to actor Tony Randall at a gallery event in the 1970s, and then to others in similar situations for a few years thereafter. Unlike the others listed here, this one (which may even be the same size as the original) is the only retail version made. It is shown with a price of $1975 on the current Cybis site which I strongly suspect is a typographical error.
HEAD OF BOY II, shown above: 7.25″ high overall, according to Cybis literature; issued in 1991. (The original was 10″h overall according to Cybis literature, but ranged from 9.25″ to 10″h overall according to second market sellers) Currently $295 on the Cybis site (which shows the name simply as ‘Boy Head’).
HEAD OF GIRL II, shown above: 7.25″ high according to Cybis literature; issued in 1991. (The original was 10″h overall according to Cybis literature, but ranged from 9.25″ to 10″h overall according to second market sellers). As shown above, base-switching can utterly confuse the “height” identification method! She too is on the Cybis site at $295, having also been apparantly resdesignated as ‘Girl Head’.
LITTLE MISS LIBERTY WITH BOW, a/k/a LITTLE MISS AMERICA WITH BOW: Although this was mentioned in a 2008 price list on the Cybis website within the “Hall of Fame” section, it is identical to the standard retail edition of “Little Miss Liberty” (which was originally named “Little Miss America” at introduction) except for the color scheme and the fact that this version holds a yellow bow in her hand. The size of both are the same, and thus I suspect that this was never a Hall of Fame edition at all but instead was a special variation created for a charity or gallery event.
Now that the Hall of Fame sculptures are being offered in the secondary market, shoppers must be aware of them when buying any of the above named pieces. Hopefully this reference list will enable more buyers to know for sure which version of these sculptures they are looking at, and of course assist sellers in correctly identifying their item.
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