Going To the Dogs: Canines by Cybis

The Cybis studio produced relatively few dog and cat studies – less than a dozen of each during the studio’s entire history. I have never seen a Cordey-imprint dog, although there were three different cats made. Most of the canine sculptures were introduced in the 1980s or later and all are open (non-limited) editions.

The earliest Cybis canine I have discovered is this charming little Foo Dog from the 1940s. The auction house that sold it did not provide a photo of the signature but I would not be surprised if this was made by Marja Cybis; the sculpt and paint style are very similar to other pieces she did at that time which are signed MC to indicate that she created it. This is a small piece, only a few inches high and might not be attached to the 2″ high wood base beneath it.


One of the earliest commercial-style Cybis dogs was this Fox Terrier. He is done in their ‘Cypia‘ sepia-tone decoration which was only used during the 1950s. He is just about 5.5″ tall, with a footprint that is a bit more than 5″ at the widest point.

The base section is odd because it has a cutout that would normally only be required if the mold was going to be used as a lamp base. Not only is this dog not a lamp, but the opening is in the front rather than the back, as would be normal even for a lamp. A couple of scenarios could account for this. Perhaps the base came from the Philadelphia shop, where Cordey items and lamps were being made, and someone in the Cybis shop forgot to re-cast the mold after closing up the opening. Or the base could have originally come to the Cybis shop along with any of the Holland or Atlantic molds they regularly purchased, and again the opening was not closed up as it should have been. During the 1950s Cybis did sometimes use the base mold from the Holland kits they bought. For example, Holland sold their mallard duck lamp mold set along with a lamp-cord-cutout base, but when Cybis produced their Mallard Ducks and Teal Ducks from those molds, the opening was eliminated. What is strange is that nobody seems to have caught this omission, even while they were painting and glazing the piece! You would think that somebody would have said “Hey…ummm…why is this weird opening here?” But apparently nobody did. Very strange!


BOXER dog ca 1950s by Cybisboxer-detailThis Boxer is also from the 1950s. He is 5″ high, 6″ long, and exhibits the high glaze typical of many pieces during Cybis’ first mainstream-market decade. The flower and foliage elements correspond with those seen on many of the birds that Cybis produced during that era but, like almost all of the 1950s Cybis output, the dog itself was probably cast from a commercially purchased mold.

There is an open-edition Scottie listed on the text-only page of “verified Cybis sculptures” in their 1974 catalog; this piece would have been sold by the studio during the 1950s. Assuming that the list’s name is correct, this piece – although a Scottish Terrier – would not have looked like the Fox Terrier shown above. The ears of a ‘Scottie’ are upright, their legs are much shorter in proportion to the body, and their coats are always a solid color.


DANDY THE DANCING DOG by CybisThe first modern era (post-1960) Cybis dog sculpture was Dandy the Dancing Dog issued in 1977 at an issue price of $145 and retired at $245 in Spring 1980.. He was one of several circus-animal designs during the late 1970s and is 8.25” high.

A local-news column in the December 9, 1965 edition of the Princeton Town Topics newspaper mentions a shop offering a “lifelike spaniel by Cybis” for sale. I’ve never seen it cited anywhere else, and wonder whether this could have been a leftover 1950s piece. It certainly couldn’t have been Dandy.

BIG TOP circus dog by CybisThe second canine in the circus genre was Circus Dog ‘Big Top’ in 1982 at $195. He is 4.5” high and was retired before 1988. His original issue name was Big Top, The Circus Dog which was tweaked to the final name a few years later.


BEAGLE PUPS BRANIGAN AND CLANCY by CybisIn 1985 the Beagle Pups ‘Branigan and Clancy’ made their appearance with an issue price of $375. This piece was selling for $495 by 1988, and $675 by 1993. The studio kept it in their “available” lineup through the 1990s. This sculpture is 6” high and 10” long.


MICK THE MELODIOUS MUTT by CybisThere were two canine pieces released in 1986. One was Mick the Melodious Mutt, at $175 which rose to $295 in 1993 and remained there. Mick was one of the original members of the series called the “Cybis Musical Menagerie Quartet” (seen in Music and Opera) and is about 6.5” high. The title on his book cover is “Songs From the Heart.” Mick was designed by Susan Eaton.


PIERRE THE PERFORMING POODLE by CybisThe other 1986 piece was a third circus dog named Pierre the Performing Poodle who is 4.5” high and was also designed by Sue Eaton. His price in 1988 was $250.


POODLE JE TAIME by CybisIn 1988 there appeared Je T’aime, Poodle (Mate to Pierre). She is identical to Pierre except for the different coloration and wearing a red bow instead of a knitted cap; her ball is decorated with hearts to correspond with her name (“I love you”). Upon introduction she was placed into a new “Sweetheart Collection” at $250 but shortly thereafter ran away to join the “Circus” to be with Pierre.

In the early 1990s Cybis temporarily offered the two poodles as a pair for $475 (on their 1993 price list) representing a discount of $95 versus their then-current individual prices of $275 for Pierre and $295 for Je T’aime. This option disappeared before 1995, at which time both were listed at $295 from then on.


BEAGLE by CybisIn the early 2000s Cybis began to offer one of the two 1985 beagle pups as a separate edition in a slightly modified coloration and named simply Beagle. However, if there is a copyright date in the mold it probably says 1985 regardless of when this single-pup edition first appeared at retail. He is 5.75” high and was priced at $595.


SCOTTISH TERRIER by CybisThe Scottish Terrier is only 2.25” high and 4” long and was also offered in the early 2000s. It’s possible that he was a backstock leftover or unreleased piece from the short-lived “Midnight” series of all-black sculptures in the late 1980s; the Black Bear shown in Bulls and Bears definitely was one of those. However, it’s equally possible that this could be a fifty-years-later resurrection of the aforementioned 1950s Scottie whose appearance is unknown. I do have to mention, though, that whoever sculpted this mold knew nothing about dogs, because this one’s ear shape is horribly wrong! Scotties have elongated, pointed ears; this one’s ears would be right at home on Mickey Mouse. In fact, no domestic dog breed has ears like this. The closest approximation would be the Azorean Cattle Dog, whose ancestry includes the hyena – which really does have ears like this!


The final Cybis canine, also from the early 2000s, was the English Cocker Spaniel. It is 3.25″ high and sold for $195.


sled-dog-from-eskimo-motherThree Cybis sculptures included a dog as a secondary element. The first was the limited edition Eskimo Mother, seen in the Mothers’ Day post.


dog-with-rumplesThe next was Rumples the Pensive Clown, a nonlimited edition from 1979 sculpted by William Pae and seen in the Circus post. Both the clown and the dog were modeled on Mr. Pae’s young son Todd and his pet.


puppy-with-karaAnd finally, the 1980 nonlimited edition Kara, girl on the beach (shown in Children to Cherish) also includes this puppy.

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