After sorting through all of the various Cybis porcelain animals by genre (cats, dogs, bulls and bears, horses, woodlanders, denizens of the deep, carousel creatures, et al.) there were still a few that refused to fit into a category….and so here they are.
One of the most impressive Cybis sculptures was the Dall Sheep. A limited edition of only 50, it was introduced in 1982 at a price of $4250. I do not know whether the edition was subsequently reduced before closing. It stands 19.5” high on its wood base and was probably sculpted by Charles Oldham. The Dall sheep is Ovis dalli and is found in the high mountains of the American northwest and Alaska. They are also known as “thinhorn sheep”. They live for about ten years in their wild mountain habitat and are found in two colorations: white and grey. The colored subspecies is Ovis dalli stonei, usually called Stone’s Sheep. The female Dall sheep has much smaller horns, as you would expect. The male’s curled horns take 80% of their typical decade’s lifespan to fully develop. The age of a ram can be counted by the number of horn rings, just like a tree. Dall sheep populations in Alaska are declining due to hunting, and in 2015 there was discussion as to possible changes to the existing laws; about 800 of these sheep – mostly rams – are killed each year.
Another impressive Cybis animal was the Elephant, produced from 1968 to 1972. It was a limited edition of only 100 and was priced at $600 throughout. It is 13.5” high and 27” long, and was produced for the retail market in white bisque only.
Ten years after the retail edition had been completed, this grey artist’s proof was presented to then-President Ronald Reagan. The Ronald Reagan Library website contains a copy of the President’s daily schedule; the entry for December 7, 1982 includes this:
4:55-5:00pm. The President met with Senator Paula Hawkins (R-Florida); Marilyn Mennello, personal friend of Senator Hawkins and presentor of a piece of Cybis sculpture; Joseph W. Chorlton, President Cybis Porcelains, Trenton, New Jersey; David Swanson, Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs. The purpose of the meeting was to present the President with a piece of Cybis sculpture, entitled “The Elephant” presented by Ms. Mennello.
In the photo, Sen. Hawkins stands next to the President as Mrs. Mennello looks on.
A later and much smaller pachyderm is Elephant ‘Willoughby’ who is 5.25” tall and about 5” long. Although he was placed into Cybis’ circus category there is nothing in particular in his decoration to indicate that he is a circus elephant. He was introduced in 1985 which was the same timeframe as the two other white bisque young African animals shown below. His issue price was $195 which has risen to $295 currently.
The very first Cybis elephant, however, was the Woodlands Elephant Scene from the 1950s. No photo is available but it was probably in color and glazed, like the early Fox shown in Into the Woods. Dimensions of this early piece are not known.
Other African wildlife found their way into the Cybis zoo as well. This is Baby Rhino ‘Monday’ from 1985 who is 4.5” high and 7” long, an open edition currently $175 on their site.
Two years later (1987) Cybis introduced the variation Baby Rhino ‘Love is Blind’ who sports a blue rosette and a red heart embossed with “Love me”. Despite the additional decorations Cybis currently shows him at $175 as well.
The Baby Rhino with Butterfly was probably done for a retail gallery event during the mid to late 1980s.
This is Hippo ‘T.G.I.F.’ (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) from 1986, an open edition issued at $95 and now priced at $175. He is 5” tall. Having done a ‘Monday’ animal the year before, Cybis then produced a companion piece for Friday!
This later variation, also an open retail edition, is titled Hippo, Baseball Fan ‘Play Ball’ and is currently priced at $475. The $300 price differential apparantly reflects the addition of the baseball cap and container of popcorn. No height is provided on the Cybis site but it is probably between 5.5” and 6” due to the cap add-on.
Moving from the savannah to the farm we find three different pig sculptures, all from the 1980s. The first was Percy the Blue Ribbon Pig in 1981 at $195. He is 5.5” high and was an open edition that was retired prior to 1988.
The other two are still being offered at retail by Cybis. This is Pig ‘Plato’ from 1983. He is the same size as Percy, at 5” high and is priced now at $295.
And last we have Three Little Pigs although not, apparantly, intended to be of the fairytale kind. Introduced in 1989, this piglet trio is 3.75” high and retails for $395. Pieces actually created in 1989 will have the special 50th Anniversary stamp.
Cybis produced several different sheep/lambs although one of them has been known by two different names.
The very first of these dates from the early days of the studio and was one of their “folklore animals”. This is the Baby Sheep made of papka (a type of clay/ceramic) with decorations that look like nothing so much as Cheerios! This little fellow is 8” high and dates from 1942–1945. I must say that his long neck reminds me far more of a giraffe than a sheep, but the 1971 Cybis in Retrospect catalog describes him as a sheep. (other papka creations can be seen here.)
The Two Lambs were produced between 1960 and 1963 but are comprised of a lamb taken from an older piece. As shown above they are 5.5” high including the wood base. The lamb itself is the same one that appears as part of the 1950s nativity sculpture called Pillar of Families. That nativity piece continued to be made until 1964 which means that the lamb – which is an entirely separate mold although attached to the same wood base as the human group – was also available for use elsewhere. This lamb was probably not an original Cybis mold.
Another sculpture that was made during the same years as the Two Lambs is listed, but not illustrated, in Cybis in Retrospect as Baby Lamb. The size is given as 3” high and 3.5” wide. Based on those dimensions this is not a single lamb from the duo shown above, but could very well be one of the three other lambs used in the first nativity set during the 1950s; the lamb shown in the Holy Family 1950s nativity group would be a prime candidate.
After the 1960s lamb retirements there were none in the Cybis line until 1979’s Lamb ‘Mandy’ which was issued as a separate companion piece to Little Bo Peep who is seen in Nursery Rhymes. This lamb’s issue price was $90 and she was retired to pasture, along with Bo Peep, in 1982 at $125. She is 4.5” high.
Although the 1981 nursery rhyme piece Baa Baa Black Sheep includes a black sheep (naturally!), Cybis also produced a separate 3.5” high companion sculpture white sheep during the same year. The only difference between the two sheep is a slight difference in head position: The black sheep is looking slightly upward while the white sheep is not. Other than that they are from the same mold.
Although the 1981 introduction brochure gives the white sheep’s name as Muffy, fluffy white sheep it was later shortened to just Muffy Fluffy (or “Fluffy Muffy” as some retailer ads had it!) When Baa Baa Black Sheep was retired a few years later, Muffy Fluffy was then renamed Small Lamb and brought into the second Nativity series as the “color” version, with a new “white embellished with gold” version added as an alternate colorway.
The other, larger, nativity lamb is named simply Lamb; it was introduced in 1985 – probably prior to the drafting of Muffy Fluffy onto the team. This lamb is 4.75” high and is shown here in the white-with-gold colorway.
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