Here are five Cybis designs in honor of Mother’s Day and of moms everywhere.
‘First Born’, Virginia Dare is an open edition, 8” tall, that was introduced in 1987 at $450; last known Cybis price was $695. Four hundred years before, on August 18, 1587, Virginia Dare had become the first baby born on American soil to British parents. She was born on Roanoke Island which was part of the Virginia Colony for which she was named. Here she is held by her mother, Eleanor Dare.
Although this was an non-limited retail edition, it appears that some of them were numbered. My guess is that some were set aside for a Cybis retailer event and, because it was part of the studio’s new collection commemorating the 200th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution, probably numbered from 1 to 200. That amount also was typical for special “gallery event pieces.” Although normally such pieces differed slightly in color or decoration from the normal retail version, it may be that they decided to have the numbering as the only difference.
Eskimo Mother was released in 1973 as an edition of 350 sculptures with a price of $1875. The edition was later reduced to only 200 closed in 1982 at a price of $2500. It stands 11” tall. This piecewas later selected by Canada to be their official royal wedding gift to Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981, and also by President Ford as a gift of state to Premier Brezhnev. The sculpture is based on the Inuit legend of an elderly and lonely woman who, while walking along the shore one day, discovered a baby polar bear. She took the baby bear home, named him Kunik, and raised him tenderly. The full and quite touching story can be read here. In their sculpture Cybis has portrayed her as a younger woman with her baby, the polar bear cub and their sled dog.
Mother Bear with Three Cubs was an issue of only 100 sculptures, an artist’s proof of which was presented to Queen Elizabeth II as California’s state gift when she visited in 1983. It was brought to Sacramento by Joseph Chorlton, head of the Cybis studio, who literally accompanied it every step of the way of the cross-country trip. As related on the Cybis website, he told reporters “We wanted to be sure it arrived safely, so we purchased its own first-class airline ticket.” At least two of the cubs were also available as separate open-edition pieces which are shown in Bulls and Bears.
Although I have never seen it (nor a photo) a sculpture named Mother’s Child, ’First Steps’ is listed in the 1979 Cybis catalog as having been produced for only one year (1963-1964), in both a white bisque and color version. This list usually gives the sculpture height, but for this item it notes only that it was 18” long. If that is not a typo, this must be a very unusual piece indeed; even large limited editions are not normally that wide!
Cybis also produced this 8″ diameter Mothers Day Plate in 1987. It was shown in the introductory brochure as being a limited edition of 2500 at $295.
By the way, for the grammar nerds among us (meaning also moi) I researched the question of where to put the apostrophe in this particular day’s name. A case can be made for any of three possible variants. If the intention is that this day belongs to each individual mother, the correct usage in terms of possession is Mother’s Day; but if taking the view that the day belongs to all mothers collectively, it would be the plural Mothers’ Day. However, if instead one feels that this day is intended for all mothers (in other words, there is no “belonging to”/possession involved), the apostrophe isn’t needed and in that case it would be Mothers Day.
When the holiday was made official by Congress in 1914, the wording of the bill read “Mother’s Day” which was the spelling used by Ann Jarvis, a post-Civil War peace activist of the late 1860s who first proposed the idea of a specific day to honor mothers; the cause was later taken up by her daughter Anna. The traditional flower associated with Mother’s Day has always been the carnation which was Ann Jarvis’ favorite flower.
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