Cybis has a continuous history of child head/portrait busts ever since the first two were introduced in 1963. All but three were attached to a wood base, and all were between 9” and 11” high overall. Most were issued as companion sculptures although each was sold separately. Only three were limited editions; the others were open (non-limited). Let’s take a look at them in chronological order.
The Head of Boy and Head of Girl were both introduced in 1963 (at $40 retail) and retired in 1970 at $85. They are approximately 9.75” high on their wood bases. As related in When Is a Cybis Not a Cybis, neither were original Cybis-designed molds although Cybis later purchased the copyright to both of these (exact) sculptures.
A real surprise was the discovery of this pair in an nonstandard hair color! This is the only example that I have come across and would be very interested to know whether they are one of a kind. However, they are both signed simply “Cybis” as normal, with no A.P. designation which the studio always adds to a OOAK piece. It’s also possible that they were done for a special gallery event, although those issues typically date from the 1970s and 1980s. It would be very surprising to discover one from the 1960s! This pair really flew under the collectors’ radar: it was first offered in November 2013 and did not sell; then again by the same auctioneer almost a year later in September 2014, did not sell; and finally sold – third time’s the charm – two months later at only $118 for the pair.
In 1967 Cybis released both the Baby Boy Head and the Baby Girl Head. Both are 11” high overall, both sold for $95, and both were made for only a single year before being retired in 1968. The boy head (and possibly the girl as well) has gone by slightly different names within Cybis literature: in their 1967 catalog they are both called “Baby Heads”, in the 1968 catalog the boy is pictured in profile with the name as “Young Boy”, and the 1979 catalog’s appendix lists him as the “Baby Boy Head!” Because the 1979 one is the most recent – and makes the most sense – that appears to be the official version.
Simultaneously with the two open-edition baby boy and girl busts Cybis also introduced the limited edition Baby Bust. It had a declared edition of 500 (at $375 retail) in 1967 but in 1968 this edition too was closed after only 239 had been made. At the time of closing the price had risen to $550 which makes one wonder if there were production problems with this piece. It is 11” high on its wood base.
For some reason this sculpture has always reminded me of a Buddha statue in the “protection pose”!
After the baby busts (perhaps in more ways than one??) Cybis did not introduce any new child heads for a few years, until 1972 when the Eskimo Child Head ‘Snow Bunting’ (shown on the left in this photo) was released. It is 10.5” high on its base and retailed for $165 at that time; it has long ago been retired.
A special-event edition of the Eskimo Child was created in the early 1980s for one of the major Cybis retailers; I’m embarassed to say that even though I did own one of these I can’t recall whether the event was at Brielle Galleries or at Reese Palley! This sculpture was given its own name of ‘Nanuq’, Little Polar Bear and was an edition of only 200 (shown at right.) If my memory hasn’t entirely failed me at this stage, I do believe the price was somewhere between $250 and $295.
Although this next sculpture isn’t technically a “bust” because it does show part of her lower body, I’ve chosen to include Mary, Mary here. Her inspiration was, of course, the nursery rhyme. She is 10.5” high and was produced only from 1974-1979, at $475 retail throughout. She was a limited edition but there is a bit of possible confusion as to the actual edition size. The declared edition of 750 was definitely reduced to only 500 before closing, according to the 1979 Cybis catalog. However, the sculpture shown in this photograph was described by the auctioneer thusly: Cybis bisque limited edition figure, ‘Mary, Mary’, h 10 ½”: Hand-painted number 525 of limited edition. Hmmmmm. Unfortunately if there ever was a photograph of the back of the sculpture/signature it is no longer available, and so we’re left wondering whether it was really #525 or just a typo.
(Eros, a bust of the Greek child-god of love, was introduced in 1974 but is profiled with the mythological characters.)
Cybis returned to their original practice of introducing ‘companion’ male and female child heads at the same time in 1975, with the Indian Boy Head ‘Little Eagle’ and the Indian Girl Head ‘Running Deer’. In their advertising Cybis described them as brother and sister. Both open editions were retired in 1979. Running Deer is 10” high, was issued at $175 and retired at $285. Little Eagle is 12.5” high and sold at a slightly higher pricepoint ($225/$365). Neither of these was ever attached to a base. They were always classified by Cybis as part of their “children” series rather than their North American Indians collection, by the way.
In 1976 Cybis introduced another iconic child head which is still an open edition today, almost forty years later. This is the Child Clown Head ‘Funny Face’ (shown at right in the photo) which was sculpted by by Marylin Chorlton except for the hat which was designed by William Pae. He is 10.5” high and was introduced at $225; the Cybis website shows his current price as $695. Funny Face has been produced in an alternate retail decoration as well as at least (to my knowledge) two numbered special-event editions for retail galleries; there may be additional versions that I’m not currently aware of, so if any reader happens to have one I’d love to add it here.
‘Funny Face’ with Holly (shown at left) is the separate holiday-themed retail edition. Thanks to a helpful Archive reader I have been able to peg his introduction date to 1976 as well (probably as an autumn introduction) and his likely release price as $275 or $295 . He currently appears on the Cybis site at $995. The “holiday” version has a white base whereas all of the other versions use dark wood.
Funny Face in Green with Daisy was a special edition of 150 numbered sculptures produced in the 1980s for a Cybis event at the Reese Palley store in Atlantic City, NJ. This was the actual name that the piece was given. If I recall correctly the price was either $295 or $325.
Lucky was another special-event piece that was, like the Eskimo child ‘Nanuq’ numbered and also given its own name. This piece is unusual for another two reasons: it had an plaque affixed to the base (which was done for very few Cybis issues) and it was not done for a retail gallery:
I can only assume (dangerous, I know!) that Claridge’s in Atlantic City approached Cybis with a request to make a special piece for their New Years’ Eve celebration event to which their “high rollers” were invited. Perhaps each table had one of these as a centerpiece which was later raffled off? This was a physically-numbered edition of 300.
The introduction of redheaded Jeremy in 1977 coincided with Cybis temporarily renaming the child head collection as “Children of the World”. He is 9.5” high overall. Originally issued at $175, he is now a retired edition although I haven’t been able to confirm his final retail price.
His sister-sculpture Jennifer appeared in 1978 at a slightly higher $210 pricepoint. She is a bit smaller at 9.25” high and has likewise been retired.
The same year (1978) also saw the introduction of Jason who is the same size as Jeremy (9.5” on base) and was priced at $195. He and his companion sculpture Jessica, shown below, were retired in less than 10 years; however, in the early 2000s the Cybis website began offering both again — apparantly from backstock — at a price of $1475 (or a discounted price of $2500 for the pair.) Both have since disappeared from the Cybis website.
Jason’s companion sculpture Jessica was issued in 1979 at $245 and is the same size as Jennifer (9.25”). Her issue and pricing scenario is the same as that of Jason: retired during the 1980s and brought back temporarily on the early-2000s Cybis site for $1475 or $2500 for the pair.
The Oriental Boy ‘Cheerful Dragon’ (Shi Lun) also made his appearance in 1979. He is 10” high on base and had an issue price of $300. He was retired/reincarnated/retired in the same manner as Jason and Jessica. In this case the early-2000s “comeback” price was $1275 or $2000 if paired with his companion below.
Following the precedent set by Jeremy/Jessica, the following year (1980) saw the appearance of Oriental Girl ‘Lotus Blossom’ (Lien Hua). At this time I do not have her original price but a good guess would be in the low to mid $300s. She is the same height as the other girl-head sculptures, at 9.25”. Like ‘Cheerful Dragon’ her pricing at reappearance in the early 2000s was $1275 or $2000 if bought as a pair.
(Psyche, the myth-based companion head to Eros, was also introduced in 1980 but – like Eros – is shown in the Mythological post.)
The two Victorian-era children are Edward and Victoria, both issued in 1981 although ‘split’ between the Spring and Fall introductions. Both are 10” high overall, and both were introduced in 1981; they were selling for $345 each the following year. They are now retired although the year is not known; my guess is sometime in the mid 1990s if not before.
The third limited edition child bust issued by Cybis was Robin (Girl’s Head with Flowers) which is an edition of 1000 introduced in 1982. She is the largest of this genre at 10.75” high overall. Her introductory price was $475 which rose to $650 by 1988 and she still appears on the existing Cybis website today at $1375.
There followed a short hiatus in the introduction of new child heads until 1985 which is when Valentine appeared. She was designed by Marylin Chorlton at the same time as Funny Face, for which she was intended as a companion, but not released at retail for another nine years. William Pae also contributed to this piece, by designing Valentine’s hair. Up to this point Funny Face had been gender-neutral, simply described as “Child Clown Head”; however, with the appearance of Valentine Cybis renamed the original piece to Funny Face (Boy Clown Head) to correspond to their new Valentine (Girl Clown Head) issue. This new introduction meant that all of the non-limited-edition child and baby busts were now considered to be male/female companion pieces. Valentine is 9.75” high overall, had an original price of $335, and is currently on the Cybis site for $695 which is the same price as her companion piece.
Of course Cybis similarly also offers Valentine with Holly, and at the same current retail price as the related Funny Face with Holly ($995). Like the holiday-counterpart Funny Face, the base on this version is white as well.
It’s no real surprise that when Cybis added their Hall of Fame Editions line in the early 1990s, they brought back their very first child head pieces as downsized replicas. In fact it’s quite possible that these were the first of that genre because they were introduced in 1991. Although the Cybis website currently shows them simply as Boy Head and Girl Head under the “Hall of Fame” section, a more accurately descriptive name is Hall of Fame Boy Head and Hall of Fame Girl Head. The Cybis site prices them at $295 and gives the size as 7.25” overall for both; however, the pair in the photograph was described by the seller as being 6.75” high. They appear to be identical to the 1960s originals (which were between 9.5” and 10” high) except in size.
There was also a prototype model of a young girl bust created during the 1980s by William Pae. Because her face appears to be that of a child slightly older than the ones depicted here, I have included the photo in the Children to Cherish post.
Cybis eventually abandoned the “Children of the World” category and returned all of the existing child busts to their larger “Children to Cherish” group, except for Funny Face and Valentine which were assigned to “Circus”. As mentioned in an earlier post, these categories (which Cybis calls “collections”) have no actual relevance unless a person is collecting strictly by theme, and with only a few exceptions the category names have been rather fluid over time.
It is interesting to see that of all the Cybis child busts produced during the roughly 50 years since the introduction of the Boy and Girl heads in 1963, the one that has endured the longest is the original ‘Funny Face’ clown head which in 2016 celebrated its 53rd year on the market.
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