Cybis Giftware Items

Cybis Porcelain had a long history of making giftware items, dating all the way back to the Cordey studio in the 1940s and then the first decade of the Cybis operation in the 1950s.  (The Cybis vases, wedding-themed items and decorative eggs appear in their own separate posts.)

Boxes

 

1939 ornate floral porcelain box by CYBIS

This circa 1939 ornate floral rose box is  7″ long x 5.5″ tall x 5″ wide. This very ornate box foreshadows the Cordey items soon to appear, and is lined with a blue fabric which may or may not be original to the piece. It is signed M.B.Cybis 1939 in blue which is definitely problematic, considering that Boleslaw and Marja Cybis did not even establish a home and studio in the USA until 1940. During 1939 they were painting murals in NY and then going on a road trip to the Southwest all that summer before returing to NY to board a ship home to Poland in October 1939. The ship had to turn back due to the invasion of Poland. The likelihood that the Cybises could have found their rented quarters in NY and set up a functioning studio (which did NOT even begin to create porcelains ‘from scratch’ until several years later) during the final 60 days of 1939 is…highly unlikely. Thus, I  have absolutely no explanation for the year that is painted on this box. It is possible, I suppose, that items like these were bought ready-made in late 1939 and autographed/dated this way as Christmas gifts that season. That scenario is far more likely than that it was made ‘from scratch’ in a studio that did not even exist until the following year.

 

ROSE BOX early 1950s dual signature CYBIS and CORDEYrose-box-dual-signature-cybis-and-cordeyA small circa 1950s Cybis/Cordey dual signature rose box bearing the Cordey mold impression (at left) and the Cybis signature stamp in blue at the right. The blue painted model number of 6038 also appears as a faint mold impression below “Cordey.”

Similar in design, but having only the stamped Cybis name in faded black paint, is this oval trinket box with roses. It is 3.5” long and 2” wide.

1950s HEART BOX large and small and POWDER BOX WITH BIRD by CybisThese three 1950s small boxes were produced at least until 1963 but were gone from the lineup by 1967. All where made in both plain white bisque and in color-decorated. Prices cited are from 1963. From left to right: the Heart Box (small) which is 3” high, white $10, color $15; the Powder Box (round with bird) also 3” high and 3” in diameter, white $10, color $15; and the larger Heart Box which is 4” high, white $15, color $18.

This photo of a white bisque Heart Box shows the handmade floral and ribbon detail clearly.

 

POWDER BOX ROUND WITH BIRD by Cybiscordey-round-box-with-bird-and-flowersThe first image is the same 1950s Powder Box with bird that is shown in the center of the previous photo; these were signed Cybis. The second photo is an earlier Cordey signed round box with bird for style comparison. The Cordey box is much larger, however: 7” in diameter and 6” tall including the decorated lid. The bird itself is slightly more than 2” high and 3.5” long beak to tail.

 

I am awaiting photos of the marks on this round box with pink roses and forget-me-nots to confirm my hunch that this too is a 1950s item.

 

EGG BOX by Cybis view 1This lovely Egg Box dates from the 1950s as well. It is 4.5″ long x 2.5″ wide, and is 3.5″ high with the lid on. Notice the delicate handpainted leaves below the applied foliage, stem and flowers. One of these also appeared in the 1971 museum exhibit.

 

This Egg Box‘s mold incorporates an ornate floral band in relief along the top of the egg’s bottom section — a rather Cordey-esque accent for a Cybis egg! Many thanks to the Museum of American Porcelain Art for sharing their photo.

 

Here are two contemporaneous 1950s boxes side by side: a white bisque Heart Box and the decorated bisque Egg Box.

 

RING BOX by Cybisring-box-detailThis Ring Box, issued in 1987, may be cast from the same mold as the 1950s powder box, because it is the same height. When originally issued, there were several color options; a choice of white, pink or yellow for $225, or a “variety of other colors available (shadings may vary” for $250. During the 1990s Cybis limited the colors to white, pink or yellow (shown) at a price of $350 for any of them.

 

This extremely dirty ring box with chrysanthemum lid was almost certainly a test piece utilizing the same basic small round box mold. I confess I am surprised at the fine workmanship of the chrysanthemum and it makes me wonder if this may have been done in the 1960s or 1970s and never released. By the 1980s the studio was ‘cutting corners’ production-wise which is no doubt the reason why this was never issued as a retail piece: It would have taken too much time and effort to produce.

 

Here the same box has been given an Indian-head lid instead. This was definitely not a retail item, although it is possible that it may have been considered as one during the production years of the North American Indians series. These are test pieces from the studio’s backstock.

 

This Trenton Bicentennial Box (again from the same basic molds) was clearly a 1992 promotional item. Cybis’ New Jersey Collection may have debuted in the same year; however, my 1993 and later price lists do not include this box. It may be that it was only offered for retail sale in 1992, or may simply have been an item made for local city officials.

Heart Boxes

 

As more fully described above, the first two Heart Boxes (Small and Large) were produced during the 1950s. The color photo here shows the Small heart box.

 

1970s THINKING OF YOU heart box in pastel by Cybis view 1

1970s Thinking of You in pastel view 21970s Thinking of You in pastel view 3Cybis created several different heart box colorways starting in the 1970s with their Lidded Heart ‘Thinking of You’ which may have been originally intended as an annual piece. The 1979 Cybis catalog shows two of them issued in 1975: Lidded Heart ‘Thinking of You’ (ivory) for $75 and Lidded Heart ‘Thinking of You’ (pastel) for $80. The dimensions of this heart are 3” high, 4” long and 4” deep. However, there were actually four colorways of these hearts made: a pink/red, a pink/blue, a sort of golden beige, and a red white and blue. This pink-and-blue colorway may be the one Cybis described as Pastel. If so, it was made only during 1975 and 1976.

1975 THINKING OF YOU heart box by Cybis view 11975 Thinking of You heart box view 21975 Thinking of You heart box view 3Is this golden/beige version the one described as Ivory by Cybis? If so, it was only made during 1975. The third photo shows the underside of the lid, which was the same (plain white bisque) regardless of a box’s exterior colorway.

THINKING OF YOU heart box in pink and red by Cybis view 1THINKING OF YOU in pink and red view 2I once owned this pink and red colorway and that confuses me a bit because had the pink/blue one been available at the time I would definitely have chosen that one over this! Perhaps the other colorways were no longer available.

1976 THINKING OF YOU heart box by Cybis Bicentennial red white blueAlthough offered only in the Bicentennial year of 1976 (for $85), the 1979 catalog does not say Bicentennial” but only Lidded Heart ‘Thinking of You’ (red, white and blue). However, everyone calls this the “Bicentennial Heart Box” and the fact that it was made only in that year, like all their other Bicentennial introductions, makes that name far more logical.

 

WEDDING HEART BOX by CybisAfter the Thinking of You hearts were all retired, there were no heart boxes in the Cybis lineup until  Spring 1987 when they introduced the Romance Heart Box with Flowers (upper photo) and its wedding-theme variant, the Romance Heart Box with Rings. Both were priced at $225 initially. During the 1990s the “wedding box” disappeared and only the “with flowers” one remained available. This heart box is 2.5” high and about 5” wide.

ROMANCE Heart Box Breast Cancer edition by CybisThis is the Romance Heart Box in Pink colorway, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. It was only offered during the 2000s, on the Cybis website, for $395.

 

STARS AND STRIPES heart box by Cybis

The 1987 Stars and Stripes Heart Box is often misnamed the “Bicentennial” heart by online sellers even though it has a copyright year of 1987 (rather than 1976) in the mold. This has the same dimensions (2”high x 5” wide) as the Romance/Wedding heart box because it is from the same basic mold; only the lid surface sculpt is different. Its issue price was $225. It was retired shortly after introduction and remained so until the 2000s when Cybis made it again available on their website for $495 from back-stock.

Here’s an excellent visual comparison of the relative sizes of three of the four Cybis heart boxes: the 1950s Small Heart Box, 1987 Stars & Stripes, and mid-1970s Thinking of You which is actually the ‘tallest’ at 3″ high because of the very domed lid.

The 1970s and 1980s heart boxes differed noticeably in profile as well.

 

The Ryder Cup Heart Box was a special commission for the 1987 match. It is simply the Stars and Stripes box with words added to the normally-blank scroll.

 

Covered Jars

ROSE JAR in white by Cybis

ROSE JAR in color by Cybis

Cybis first offered a covered jar during the 1970s. The Rose Jar was made for three years, 1975–1977, in white bisque for $75 and in color for $95. It is 5” high overall. As the third picture shows, there was some variation in the color version; this one has a green background on the panels, and a white rose on the lid.
rose-jar-motif-composite-1rose-jar-motif-composite-2Each of the six sides has a different rose motif on it, as shown in this composite photo.

A different design, called the “ginger jar”, appeared in the early 1980s. There are two known designs using the same blank body mold. It is slightly more than 6” high.

VIRGINIA BLUEBELLS GINGER JAR by Cybis

Virginia Bluebells Ginger Jar detail 1

Virginia Bluebells Ginger Jar detail 2This is the Virginia Bluebells Ginger Jar which has a copyright year of 1983. As shown in the first detail photo, there are touches of gold on the inside of the flowers.  There are no jars of any kind on a Cybis price list from 1988, which means that this was originally produced for five years or less.  Pricing details from the 1980s are unknown.

 

The Rose Ginger Jar was cast from the same blank mold as the Virginia Bluebells version and may have been released during the same year (1983) or the year afterward. The lids on the two models are exactly the same and the central medallion is very similar although not exactly. This jar is described as being a combination of bisque and glazed (the glaze being on the relief designs). It’s likely that these two ginger jar designs were retired at the same time (pre-1988) but the Bluebells version was later brought back into the Cybis line under a modified name.

 

Virginia Bluebells Ginger Jar in cobalt blue by Cybis

The Virginia Bluebells jar mold was resurrected in the early 1990s and  their 1993 price list shows this Ginger Jar (varied color, glazed with gold.) In other words, one could have a jar in a solid color as in the upper photo, or one with gold mottling as in the lower one. On the 1993 list it is priced at $145 but in 1999 it was increased to $395.

Bowls, Compotes, and Baskets

 

GEMINI BOWL by Cybis

gemini-bowl-by-cybis-detailThe most well known of these is the very Art Nouveau style Gemini Bowl from 1983 which is 3.75” high ad 7.5” wide across the handles. Issued at $225, by 1988 it was selling for $275, for $375 in 1993, and $495 in 1995.

 

IRIS COMPOTE by Cybis view 1

iris-compote-view-2

iris-compote-detail

iris-compote-interiorIntroduced in the same year (1983) was the Iris compote. It is 5” high and 7” wide across the top. It does seem odd that Cybis would name this the iris compote when the iris is only one of multiple elements and flowers on it; I’d have thought something like “Garden compote” or “Spring Dream compote” would be more appropriate! It sold for $265 at introduction but was retired before 1988.

CUPID BOWL AWARD by CybisA piece titled Cupid Bowl, Original Famous Cybis Award appeared on their late 1993 price list under the Hall of Fame heading, for $850 and cited as being a 6.5″ high non-limited edition. This piece has recently been discovered to have an incredibly complicated history, which is why it now has its own Archive post!.

There is a Garden of Eden (Bowl)  on Cybis’ Fall 1995 and Spring 1999 price lists at $975, with dimensions of 5.5″ high and 9.5″ wide.  Price lists have no photos, and although this item was later listed on their website there was no picture accompanying it.

 

This white bisque prototype is a low cachepot that was designed in the early 1980s by George Ivers and Steve Zuczek. The birds and flowers design on the side is typical of the detail work that George Ivers preferred to do. Its dimensions are unknown and this is the only known photo of it; this piece was never produced as a retail edition….unless this ended up being the “Garden of Eden Bowl”? The proportions could work…but I don’t see anything particularly Eden-ish about the design, do you?

 

Another 1980s Zuczek/Ivers collaboration was the Eagle Bowl issued in 1987. It is 4.75″ high and about 8.75″ wide, offered in both white bisque ($250) and color ($425). Additional views of this bowl are in the Born in the USA post. It was retired before 1993 but Cybis resurrected it a decade later and put the color version on their website at $495.

Thanks to the wonderful curators of the New Jersey State Museums collection of Cybis, I can show four circa-1942, rose-decorated miniature porcelain baskets that were displayed during their 1970-71 Cybis in Retrospect exhibit. Their dimensions are: Upper left, 3.5″ long x 1/2″ deep; upper right, 2.5″ square x 1″ deep; lower left and right, about 3.5″ square and approximately 1″ deep.

Three of these baskets used the ‘dipped fabric’ approach that characterized many dipped-lace Cordey items of the same era. The weave of the pieces of material is even more noticeable on the underside because that is undecorated. Note how rolled porcelain strands were used to create ‘feet’ on two of the baskets.  (The black numbers are the Museum’s accession numbers.)

Baby Items

Cybis offered three baby-related giftware items (see Here Come the Brides for the wedding sculptures and giftware). Two of them date from the 1980s; one is a 1970s piece that was brought back from retirement.

BONBONNIERE BAPTISMAL SHELL in Blue by CybisBONBONNIERE BAPTISMAL SHELL in Pink by CybisThe Bonbonniere Baptismal Shell was introduced by Cybis in 1975 and retired in 1977. It was made in both pink and blue and was priced at $50 during all three production years. Its size is given in the catalog as 1.75” high x 6” long x 3″ wide. Its name was intended to show that this piece could be used as a bonbonniere (small candy dish) or as a baptismal font. Cybis resurrected this piece, renamed as  Baptismal Font, in 1990 for $250. These were/are possibly from backstock, especially if the 1970s retirement was due to lack of collector interest.

 

LULLABY BABY ON MOON by CybisLullaby Baby on Moon in pinkLullaby Baby on Moon detailLullaby Baby on Moon appeared in 1986 at $125, rising to $150 by 1988 and $175 in 1993. It is 6.5” high and was offered in a choice of blue, pink or ivory decoration. It was designed by Lynn Klockner Brown.

BABY IN CRADLE by CybisBaby in Cradle was also available in either blue, pink or ivory. This was originally the baby Jesus element in the retired 1980s Adoration sculpture shown in Angels. This “baby commemorative” version appeared in 1992 at $95. It has a 2” x 3.5” footprint.

Paperweights

Because Cybis never offered any paperweights as retail items, these are all artist’s proofs/test pieces.

The We the People paperweight would have been issued as part of the studio’s 1987 Constitution Bicentennial offerings. It shows the US Capitol building.

The studio flirted with the idea of a series of Twelve Days of Christmas paperweights but never brought them into their retail line. These were designed by George Ivers during the years when he was the studio’s art director, which pegs these to the 1970s. The studio would eventually issue a series of Twelve Days ornaments about a decade later.

The Partridge in a Pear Tree Paperweight is 4″ in diameter. This particular example came from the personal collection of Lynn Klockner Brown.
Additional examples in different colorways.

The Two Turtle Doves Paperweight has a slightly different treatment around the sides. [photo courtesy of the Museum of American Porcelain Art]

A Three French Hens Paperweight in white and gold.

Tableware/Decorative

These final giftware items are best described as tableware or general home décor.

FAN PLACE CARD HOLDER in green by Cybis

Fan Place Card Holder in white by Cybis

Fan Place Card Holder RIBBON OF HOPE by CybisThe Fan Card Holder appeared on the studio’s ca-2000s website for $50.  The second fan (white with pink rose) is puzzling because the trim appears to be silver instead of the normal gold; I have never ever seen anything but karat-gold paint on a Cybis piece. The pink-bow colorway was marketed by Cybis as the Ribbon of Hope Fan for breast cancer awareness although it does not have the typical crossed pink ribbon applied to it. None of the sources cited a height for this piece but is must be relatively small, probably 2″ or less. I would like to find out the copyright year of this piece because I have a hunch that it may have been originally designed during the 1980s, quickly retired, and then resurrected a decade or more later.

grapevine candle cups by Cybis

grapevine-candle-cups-detailThese grapevine candle cups (at least I’m guessing that’s what they are, because I’ve not discovered any modern Cybis pieces specifically intended for food or drink service) are dated 1984 in the mold which is the year after the introduction of the stylistically very similar Bacchus Vase. I suspect this was another item in the so-called “Heritage Collection.” The cups are 3″ high, plain white bisque, and are glazed on the interior. They were retired before 1988.

The earliest known Cybis candlesticks/candle holders are shown in this photo from a 1944 issue of Interiors, a trade magazine. Although they are very similar to what was being made under the Cordey branding, the accompanying caption does say

Cybis sculpture hand made candle holders in pastels. From $1.75 the pair to $12.50 each.

I wish it were possible to see the central item better, because it looks as though it might be an angel holding the candle base aloft. The prices shown must be wholesale, because a John Wanamaker newspaper ad from the same year (1944) shows a pair of Cordey half-circle three-candle holders with a retail price of $15 each, in this Cordey post.

Two very early candlesticks (circa 1940–1942) created in papka composition with fresco decoration and mentioned in Cybis in Retrospect were a Blossom Candlestick decorated in yellow, blue and pink and a Candlestick, Bird on Branch about 9” high, described as “mauve/blue with pink flowers.”  It is quite possible that one or more of the pieces in the magazine photo are these. Another papka candlestick mentioned in Retrospect was in the form of a 7″ high winged horse, the Pegasus Candlestick seen in the 1940s Cybis Papka post.

These circa-1950s angel candleholders may well have been cast from a commercial mold, as were almost all Cybis items during that decade. They are 8.75″ high and are decorated in a typical style for their religious theme items of the era.

These short candleholders with rose also date from the 1950s and show a strong resemblance to the Cordey pieces being made during that same decade.  They are short, being just under 4″ high, with a 3.75″ footprint. The use of the paint-stamp Cybis signature shows that these are from the early 1950s. Although the mold itself has two different kinds of flowers, Cybis nevertheless added their typical 1950s rose decoration as well.

 

IRIS CANDLESTICKS by Cybis

Iris Candlesticks in white bisque by CybisThe Iris Candlestick from 1984 matches the Iris Vase that appeared the same year and was likewise retired before 1988. This candlestick is 4.75” high and is the only modern era Cybis candlestick.

Here they are with the matching vase, giving a good idea of their relative sizes.

IRIS FOOTED DISH by Cybis

Another match to the Iris pieces was the Iris Pedestal Dish which is 2” high x 5.5” wide x 11” long. This probably dates from 1984 or 1985 and has also been known as the Iris Footed Dish. It appears that all three of the iris-pattern pieces were produced in a plain white bisque version as well as color, and retired before 1988.

The age of these leaf-pattern short candleholders is completely uncertain because they were among a large quantity of liquidated backstock from the studio in 2019, and no photo of the marks was available. They could be paint-test pieces (gold vs. ‘silver’). However, the studio’s Spring 1993 price list includes two candle-related items, and it is possible that these might have a connection.

The two mystery 1990s items were indicated only by a title and a design number; no dimensions and no price. One was Candlestick, design #20950; the other was Candle Holder, design #20951. A purist would say (rightly) that the difference between a ‘candlestick’ and a ‘candle holder’ is that the former has a spike in the center of the well, whereas the latter does not. However, no porcelain version would have a central spike because it would immediately break off upon contact with a candle. Yet, Cybis titled their Iris piece as a “stick.” I suspect that they, like most people, probably refer to a tall piece as a candlestick and a short one as a candle holder.  This makes it likely that the 1993 items were short and tall versions of the same or similar mold. If anyone has either, please let me know!

 

CUPID WITH HEART by Cybis

I decided not to put this Cupid with Heart into the Mythology post because it is so different in style from any of those pieces. Lynn Klockner Brown designed the Cupid and basic overall shape, after which George Ivers created the detailed decorations on the heart and base. It is six inches high and was introduced in 1987 at $145.

.Other early giftware/décor items were are a Tulip Cup and a Mint Tray. There was also an Oval Basket Tray available in three size formats: small, medium and large. Like the early vases also listed, these undoubtedly date from the 1950s.

An intriguing 1950s item appears on the Spring 1963 price list and also on the 1974 catalog name-list. In 1963 it is called Tray with Baby Lizard, size 6″ (did this mean width, or height??), and offered in white bisque for $7.50. The name-only 1974 list includes it as Lizard on Tray. By whatever name, I’d love to someday find a photo of one!

Cybis also produced a number of plates and plaques as well as the Limnettes series of the 1970s.

Name Index of Cybis Sculptures
Visual Index (for human figures/busts only)

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