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 that differed in size and certain decorative details from the original. The premise was that these would now be an option for collectors who missed out on acquiring that design’s original edition.
A recently-discovered copy of a form letter from Cybis which seems to be dated 1993 (unfortunately not a clear scan) says in part:
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!
Even more puzzling is the discovery of a 1993 retail price list from Cybis containing a page devoted to the HOF (Hall of Fame) series; the page is captioned “Hall of Fame Collection” with the subheading “Available to Collectors Club Members Only.” Why on earth would Cybis wish to limit the number of possible customers at a time when the entire art porcelain market was seriously struggling?? The 1995 and 1999 price lists contain the same restriction on the sale of the HOF pieces.
My own opinion is that it was not fair to the Cybis collector market for them to have issued a (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 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 mold impression (if such a date is there). There may also be 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 listing. 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 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 version of the boy, issued in 1991 as Head of Boy II and was likewise an open edition. According to Cybis’ price lists, these two HOF pieces are 7.25” high on their wood bases. However, this and two other HOF heads offered for sale in recent years are actually only 6.75″ high overall. So there is a difference of 2.5″ 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)
The size difference becomes dramatically apparent when the Hall of Fame and original 1960s heads are placed next to each other! The signature differences can be seen in this photo also.
The 1960s boy and girl heads were signed simply Cybis, with or without a copyright symbol as well; there are no mold impressions. The Hall of Fame head is signed Cybis U.S.A. and also has the phoenix, CYBIS and a copyright symbol as mold impressions.
On the other hand, the seller of this girl head gave its height as 7.75″ overall, which is shorter than the original version but bigger than the HOF replica’s actual size! So, is this the 1960s 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:
But even without knowing the size of the porcelain bust itself, we can still deduce from the markings that this is actually an original 1960s Head of Girl that has been put onto a (lower) non-original base because only marks are the signature and copyright symbol. Perhaps her original base became damaged from water or sunlight.
Shown below are all of the sculptures that the Cybis Studio issued as Hall of Fame editions. It may be useful to those who are buying or selling Cybis and wish to know exactly which version of the sculpture they actually have. If you are interested in the actual method by which Cybis produced these downscaled sculptures, see Upsize, Downsize (or, Honey I Shrunk the Cybis).
The designation II means simply that this is a second (reproduction/replica) version of the original retail piece… in other words, it’s the first downsized Hall of Fame replica but also the second version of (whatever.) Several pieces are named III which means that there were two HOF issues either made or intended. However, some of these were sold at the same time as their larger (II) counterparts.
Sculpture names are links go to the post that contains photos and information about the original sculpture as well as 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, selling for $1975 from Cybis for a white, or $2575 for a full-color version. Did not come with an accompanying base. (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. A 1993 price list showed it for $5975. The gold painted base is part of the sculpture. (The original late-1950s sculpture was 22” tall and was affixed to a marble base.)
LADY MACBETH II: This first of two HOF replicas was 11″ high; on the 1993 price list it is an edition of 1000 priced at $1250. This version was either completed or closed early by 1999. The original Lady Macbeth is 13″ and is shown with the other Shakespeare studies. The lavender/purple Lady Macbeth shown below is without doubt one of the two HOF replica editions. However, I am still waiting for an answer from the owner of that piece as to how tall it is. The answer, whenever I finally get it, will determine which one Hall of Fame version this is. Obviously, her crown has become detached from her hands.
LADY MACBETH III: 10” tall and an edition of 1500 at $975 in 1993, offered at the same time as Lady Macbeth II until 1999 — at which time this one’s price increased to $1075.
LIBERTY II: 13” tall; no base. (The original sculpture was 18″ tall including a base.) This one had an issue price of $1075 which was upped by $500 in 1999.
LIBERTY III: this was included, but without any illustration or dimensions, in one late-2008 Cybis online price list but not on the main website itself. It is likely that it is between 10″ and 11″ tall, and did not have a base. Its price on that list was shown as $975. I have never seen one of these and none may have been made.
PERSEPHONE II: 12.5” tall, an issue of 500. (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. The 1993 price list shows this at $2775 as the taller of the two HOF Persephone issues.
PERSEPHONE III: 10.5” tall, an issue of 1500 with a 1993 price of $1850. Oddly, she is physically identical to the concurrently-offered Persephone II in every way except for a slight difference in the color of some – not all – of the roses. Neither of these HOF Persephone replicas came even close to completing their intended edition runs.
RAPUNZEL II: 7” high, an issue of 1500 selling for $675 in 1993. This HOF version is decorated in blue; the original Rapunzels are 8.5″ high and were made in three colorways (pink, apricot, and lilac) as separate editions during the 1970s.
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 was sold separately and were limited editions of 1000 for $375 each. 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. I have never seen a photo of the HOF ones.
EAGLE DANCER: Cybis seems to have intended to make at least one HOF replica of the Eagle Dancer but it was never launched. On price lists from fall 1995 to spring 1999 there is an entry for an “Eagle Dancer III” (probably a typo for II) noted as “Call for release date, price, and number issued.” This was duplicated in later lists until finally the website noted it simply as “0”. I have never seen a photo and doubt that any were ever actually made. 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:
MADONNA WITH BIRD II: This appeared on a 1993 price list with two available options: either with a base for $600, or without a base for $575. The with-base one disappeared within the next two years but the no-base one remained offered but for $675. The cited height of 9.5” high may be the version with no base. (The original sculpture was 12” high including the wood base to which it was attached) The Hall of Fame version has brown hair and a white veil. The original Madonna with Bird 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 piece was first available for $475 (1993) but in 1995 Cybis added a white-with-gold version for $495 while booting the price of the color model to $575. Ultimately they charged $595 for either. 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 could have called this a “Hall of Fame” sculpture when it was merely a downsized assemblage of individual pieces that were currently in production is beyond comprehension. [End of rant]
CUPID BOWL: 6.5” high. This is actually a later retail replica 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. In 1993 Cybis charged $850 for this, which in my opinion was ridiculously high for a non-limited edition of relatively small dimension.
HEAD OF BOY II, shown above: actual size 6.75″ high overall; 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) He and his companion Head of Girl II were $275 each in 1993.
HEAD OF GIRL II, shown above: actual size 6.75″ high overall; 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!
In the very early 1990s Cybis offered the Hall of Fame boy and girl Heads as pair for $500 but eliminated all such “pair/set discounts” shortly thereafter.
Because some of these Hall of Fame sculptures will no doubt eventually appear for sale in auctions and online sites, shoppers should 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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