As befits America’s oldest* porcelain art studio, Cybis produced no less than 17 sculptures that celebrated the history and patriotism of the United States. Some were portraits, some were representations of our national bird, and some were giftware items. They appear below in order of retail introduction within each of those categories.
The first Cybis patriotic portrait was Columbia, a limited edition of 200 possessing several unique characteristics. She was introduced in 1967 and was completely sold out by the end of 1968. The 1979 Cybis catalog lists this as “Columbia 1776 through 1976, Commemorative issue of 200.” She was priced at $1000 which was higher than usual for a limited edition during the 1960s. The sculpture is 15” high overall and sits on a 7.5” square wood base.
The brass plaque affixed to the base of each Columbia commemorates a different event in American history from 1776 to 1976.
Another unique trait of this sculpture is the numbering, which rather than being the typical 1-200 instead runs from #1776 to #1976; thus, the piece that normally would have been #1 is numbered #1776, and the piece that would have been #200 is numbered #1976. This is very confusing/misleading if you don’t know that there were actually only two hundred of these made for retail sale!
This photo shows Cybis director Marylin Chorlton with the #1889 Columbia.
In addition to the retail production run there were three additional sculptures made in 1969 for presentation by President Richard Nixon to the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. The plaque on those three Columbia sculptures reads: “Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came In Peace For All Mankind.” A second shield, round and bearing the symbol of NASA, was also added near Columbia’s feet. A photograph of this sculpture appears in Cybis in Retrospect. The brass plaque that is affixed to the retail #1969 sculpture says simply “COLUMBIA Apollo 11 Mission 1969”
Unfortunately there is no existing list of what the 200 commemorative events were, and so the only alternative is to glean them piecemeal from whatever sculptures happen to appear for sale in the online marketplace. The list below will hopefully be expanded as time goes on. If any reader has a Columbia that does not appear below, I’d love to be able to add your “event” to the list; there is a direct-contact form on the About the Cybis Archive page. As you can see, there are more “missing” events than not!
1776 Declaration of Independence
1778 Battle of Monmouth
1793 Citizen Genet Affair
1798 Alien and Sedition Acts
1806 Monroe Treaty
1808 African Slave Trade
1809 Monroe-Pinkney Treaty
1825 Erie Canal Completed
1828 Andrew Jackson Elected as President
1829 Workingmen’s Party Organized in Philadelphia
1859 Pike’s Peak Gold Rush
1864 Sherman’s March Through Georgia
1867 Granger Movement
1883 Centennial Anniversary of the Society of the Cincinnati
1888 Benjamin Harrison Elected President
1889 Washington State Admitted to the Union
1917 Peace Without Victory
1922 US Paid Inter Allied War Debts
1928 Clark Memorandum
1934 Decline of Dollar Diplomacy
1943 Struggle for the Aleutians
1952 Austrian Treaty Negotiations
1969 Apollo 11 Mission
These next two examples are both of our first President. The George Washington Bust was an open edition, originally commissioned by the Bicentennial Council, produced for five years (1975–1970). Sculpted by William Pae, its retail price went from $175 to $275. Height is 13” including the base.
Mr. President is a limited edition of 500 standing 17” tall, issued in 1987 to commemorate the signing of the Bill of Rights which the sculpture holds in his hand. Issue price was $1,987 although before completion this rose to $2500.
Liberty was an edition of only 100, standing 17.5” tall and was priced at $1875. She is also one of those Cybis sculptures with a confused issue date. Many assume she was issued in 1986 because she was advertised as commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, but in fact an equal purpose was to help support the Liberty Park Monument Committee in connection with the restoration of the Statue. The restoration began in mid-1984 and the statue was reopened to the public amid great fanfare during its centenary year in July 1986. Shreve Crump & Low advertised ‘Liberty’ for sale in 1984, and Caldwell’s (of Philadelphia and Washington D.C.) advertised it in mid-1985. A portion ($50) of the retail price was donated to the Liberty Park organization.
Liberty holds a laurel sprig as symbol of victory. The flagstaff is 14k gold plated and the other gold accents are 24k gold leaf. Although the “official” advertising photography from Cybis did not show her on a base (this was sometimes done with other sculptures as well; see the discussion in North American Indians) the actual retail version was attached to one as can be seen above. (The sculpture presented by Cybis to Barbara Bush was an artist’s proof and did not include a base.)
The actual sculpture shown in the photo above was mis-identified as being the later Hall of Fame replica (see below) but absolutely is part of the original issue of 100. The auction house doubtless simply went to the Cybis website, saw only the HOF version listed, and identified it as that without comparing the height and decoration thoroughly to what they had in hand. As a result, the piece ultimately sold for only $50 plus the buyer’s premium – a great bargain for the purchaser!
And here indeed is Liberty II which is the aforesaid Hall of Fame replica edition which is 13” high overall and did not come with a base. Probably introduced in 1993 (unconfirmed, but definitely in the 1990s) she is an issue of 500 with an issue price of $1075 and a final Cybis retail of $1575. Note the differences in coloration (dress and medallion) between this version and the original; also the flagstaff on the HOF version is not gold plated.
In addition, this single Cybis website text-only retail price list from late 2008 contained a second HOF piece named Liberty III priced at $975. No other information about it appeared on the site. Using their typical downsizing method described here, this second reproduction is most likely 11” high. The pricing structure would also be typical for a release date in the 2000s of a piece of that size. It’s not known what the edition size is but it was probably at least 500 and possibly either 750 or even 1000 (if it was not an open edition).
This sculpture, designed and sculpted in 1985 by William Pae, was originally offered for sale in 1986 only, as Little Miss America, as seen in a California retailer’s advertisement from that year. The ad text reads:
Cybis’ tribute to the countless children who have given their hearts as well as their pennies to the restoration of our nation’s symbol of freedom. Dressed in her own version of the famous Lady’s costume, she holds a torch inscribed with the dates 1886 and 1986. Available exclusively during 1986. 8” tall. $295
However, at some point after 1986 Cybis must have decided to return this piece to the retail market, this time under the slightly revised name of Little Miss Liberty because that is how she appears on their current website at a retail of $395. So here we have a case of the same sculpture having had two slightly different names in commerce: “Little Miss America” during 1986, and at some point a decade or more later “Little Miss Liberty.”
That same late-2008 Cybis website price list page also included Little Miss Liberty with Bow in the Hall of Fame section at $975. For this issue the original book has been replaced with a yellow bow – perhaps denoting a “yellow ribbon” for returning troops? – in her left hand. (The bow in the illustrated example is damaged and was noted by the seller as “having been repaired” although, as the photo clearly shows, it is broken.)
It is an odd piece in several respects. First, although listed as a Hall of Fame piece which is always smaller, it is the same size as the original. Second, aside from the book-to-bow conversion, there is almost no difference in coloration other than dilution of intensity. For a pricepoint of $975 (compared to the $395 of the standard retail version) one would assume this would have been a numbered edition, but it is not. Also, HOF pieces are typically issued after the original version is either completed or retired… but in this case, both the standard and “with Bow” editions were available at the same time in 2008. I suspect that the yellow-bow version was not a Hall of Fame piece at all, but instead a special issue… maybe circa 1991 to mark the end of the Gulf War and the impending return of American troops, or created for a fundraising event for same and not all of them were purchased.
American Bald Eagles
The earliest Cybis portrayal of our national bird, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, was their American Eagle pair. These are also among the very first of the modern studio’s retail sculptures. As noted in Early Birds, the white bisque version was made from 1954 to 1960 and the color version – which I’ve never seen but would love to find a photo of – between 1955 and 1960. They are 14” high and originally sold for $60 and $90 respectively.
The Cybis eagle that was issued in 1987 was the Golden Eagle, not the bald eagle; it can be found in the Later Birds post.
This is the American Bald Eagle with Base which is an imposing 24” high! It dates from the late 1980s as a total edition of 300 pieces with an option of either white bisque ($3995) or color as shown ($5995) as closing prices. The combined-color single edition size is a bit unusual because in the past Cybis typically had separate edition sizes for each. It’s uncertain whether this was originally offered in two colorways because a 1988 Cybis price listed only lists one version, at $3595, without showing “white” or “color.” So it may well be that the white was added to the line during the 1990s.
The next several eagle sculptures are actually all from the same mold but given different treatments as to bases, colors, and names. All are open editions and were available in either plain white bisque or color. Actual introduction years are unknown but were somewhere between the mid 1980s and late 1990s. One version shares a base with Mr. President who dates from 1987, but that does not necessarily mean that the pieces were both introduced in the same year.
The Bald Eagle was introduced in the late 1980s in two colorways and with two base options. The no-base version is 8″ high and was $395 for the color version or $195 for all-white.
The addition of the 1.25″ wood base increased the pricing by $100 (to $295 for white and $495 for color.) So when sculptures such as these are seen in the secondary market without a base, it’s helpful to know that some were actually made that way rather than the base having “gone missing.”
Cybis produced a special edition of the no-base Bald Eagle for the Trenton Savings Bank in 1994 for the bank’s 150th year celebration. From this photograph it appears that this edition is somewhat lighter in color, being more of a golden brown.
This is the Noble Eagle which is the same Bald Eagle sculpture but on a porcelain base instead. This is the same base upon which Mr. President stands. A good height guesstimate would probably be 9” or 9.25” overall. Although both birds are white and both have the Thirteen States seals on the base picked out in gold, one was considered as ‘color’ at $795 and the other as white at $695. I’m assuming this does intend to depict a Bald Eagle because of the association with the original thirteen colonies.
There was also a special edition eagle made in 1976 for the New Jersey Bicentennial; it is shown in the Later Birds post.
All of the patriotic giftware items were open editions; however, the two Bicentennial pieces below were available for purchase only during 1976.
The Egg Vase with Eagle Lid is 5” high including the lid and was priced at $110. A Bicentennial issue, it was only available during 1976.
The Bicentennial Lidded Heart Box was a special red, white and blue colorway of Cybis’ long-running ‘Thinking of You’ heart box. It is the same mold, of course, which measures 3” high and 4.5” x 4”, and the underside of the lid has the standard inscription/decoration for all of these boxes. Like the Egg Vase, it was only offered in 1976. (The other iterations of this heart box appear in the Giftware post.)
The Liberty Bell dates from 1987, was an open edition and was sculpted by William Pae. It is 4″ tall by 3.75″ long and 3.5″ wide. It was offered in two colorways: plain white bisque for $200 and in color as shown for $250.
The Stars and Stripes Heart Box is also from 1987; it is entirely different from the ‘Thinking of You’ series. It is 2” high and 5” long and wide. The names of the two ‘patriotic heart boxes’ are constantly confused with each other by online sellers, with this 1987 heart sometimes being called the “Bicentennial heart” (despite the mold being marked 1987 rather than 1976) and the 1976 heart being miscalled the “stars and stripes.” Originally priced at $235 which rose to $495. Unlike ‘Thinking of You’, the 1980s boxes have no inscription or decoration on the inside.
The Eagle Bowl measures 4.75″ tall by approximately 8.75″ long and 5.5″ wide. Introduced in 1987, like the Liberty Bell this too was offered in both white bisque ($275) and color ($450.) The inside of the bowl is decorated with stylized feathers and thirteen stars to represent the original states. The design was a collaboration beween Stephen Zuczek and George Ivers, with Steve creating the basic design and George adding the fine details.
*In one respect, an argument could also be made for the Edward Marshall Boehm Studio having the title of “oldest American porcelain art studio.” The Boehm studio was incorporated in 1950, whereas Cybis did not become so until November 1953. However, Boleslaw Cybis began hiring artists for his studio and selling pieces stamped/marked “Cybis” in 1940, even though he didn’t register it as a business until 13 years later. This is why the modern Cybis studio counts its anniversary decades starting in 1940 rather than 1953, and celebrated its’ golden (50th) operating anniversary in 1990.
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