Double Trouble: Dual-Signature Cordey/Cybis Porcelains

Despite the pieces having been produced in the same studio, it’s usually easy to distinguish Cordey and Cybis from each other by sight; their styles were very different. Most Cordey items were Old World/European/Dresden in flavor, while the first-decade Cybis retail pieces were either religious (most) or animals and birds (some.) They were also marked differently: Cordey pieces were impressed and/or paint-stamped “Cordey” while Cybis pieces were marked as shown in the Signatures and Marks post.

Or at least most of them were marked differently.

Every once in a while a piece shows up bearing both Cordey and Cybis markings. These would have been made in the Trenton shop rather than in the Philadelphia factory which did not produce any Cybis-branded items.

There are two types of dual-signature pieces, depending on how the Cybis mark was applied (hand painted or stamped.)

Cordey + M.B. Cybis painted signature

This lavender-and-gilt man and woman are both marked Cordey and also M.B. Cybis in blue paint. They are 11” tall. I am confident that all Cordey pieces that also have a blue-painted M. B. Cybis signature are from the late 1940s.

The Cordey impression on the female underside was not shown in this photo but the seller’s description cites it as being there.

The Cordey mold impression is clearly seen on the underside of the man.

The painted design codes 200 and 200A are puzzling because, as shown in Decoding Cybis and Cordey Design Numbers, human Cordey molds were usually in the 3000s-5000s range. The 200s were almost always Cordey home décor items. But on the Cybis side, the 200 series was reserved for religious figures when they began producing them in the 1950s. The use of that number on a dual signature piece indicates that this was made before the normal Cybis retail line made its appearance.

This 7” high lady bust is signed M.B. Cybis and jas has a Cordey mold impression. The design code is also a mold impression but is difficult to make out because of the lack of contrast and the somewhat-obscuring grease-pencil marks over some of the digits. I have no idea why the painted signature has a pink background and have never seen this effect on a Cybis piece before. If this were a decal instead of being a painted signature, I would ascribe it to a faulting firing of the decal – but Cybis never used any decals until the late 1980s and then only on a very few pieces. Cordey never used decals at all.

Here’s a plainer version of the same bust, also marked both Cordey as a mold impression and M.B. Cybis in paint; it has a four-digit Cordey design code that seems to be 5003. Notice that the M.B. Cybis signature on both of these was done in black paint rather then the usual blue. Black paint was also used as an accent color on this bust.

Cordey + Cybis stamp

Cordey pieces that also bear the stamped (not hand-signed) Cybis name are most likely from between 1949 and 1953 (I’m arbitrarily drawing the line at 1953 because the Cordey operation was sold in the mid 1950s by which time the Cybis retail line was in full swing on its own.)

Cordey cats pair

Both of these cats have the Cordey mold impression but only one (the smaller of the two) is also stamped Cybis. The Cybis stamp dates the cat to the 1950s and the Cordey impression dates it to the first half of that decade.

Next we have a pair of Cordey busts commonly found in various types of decoration, headgear, and gender. “Gender” because the head molds were androgynous, depending entirely on the chosen decoration as to whether they ended up as the lady or gentleman of the pair!

The Cordey design numbers for these busts were 4013 (male) and 4014 (female.) Sometimes a letter such as P or B was added to indicate whether the dominant colorway was to be pink or blue. They are about 7” high if not wearing hats.

Here is a hatless pair. Although at first glance they appear to be only stamped Cybis, photo enhancement reveals that on the opposite side of the hole both have a faint Cordey impression, indicated here by red circles. And these are without doubt typical Cordey busts. Note the difference in the face shapes. Here the woman’s face is slimmer and the man’s rounder.

Below are some additional examples of this same bust pair but with hats added. All of these are marked only Cordey but they are good examples of how the dual-signature pair fits right in with these.

This Cordey pair is essentially the dual-marked one with the addition of hats, although the face shapes appear to be reversed; the man’s is slimmer and the lady’s is rounder.  This was easy to do because the heads and busts are separate molds. I’ve seen many online sellers describe a #4013 Cordey as being a woman, especially if ‘dressed’ in an elaborate lace front!

Here’s another Cordey pair practically smothered in green lace.

Inexplicably the 1978 and 1979 Cybis catalog’s Appendix does not include either of these earliest Cybis signatures (M.B. Cybis or the first-generation Cybis stamp.) This is a serious omission because almost every Cybis piece produced during the 1950s bears that same stamp. However, this isn’t the first error or omission discovered in that source and so I’m not entirely surprised. The Signatures and Marks post here in the Archive does illustrate every known Cybis mark.

Perhaps the dual-signature items were a simple case of production goofs, but it’s also possible that those were produced before Boleslaw and Marja Cybis had fully decided what the Cybis retail line was going to contain. They may have briefly considered using Cordey only for lamps and switching all the figurines to the Cybis branding, or even discontinuing the Cordey name altogether in favor of Cybis. So, things may have been in a state of flux in the late 1940s regarding their retail focus. It was eventually decided that the 1950s Cybis line would use mass market (commercial) molds in primarily the religious genre while Cordey pieces would continue as lamps and the Euro/Old World style. In fact I have seen only ONE religious piece marked Cordey, and it was a mold that Cybis re-used in 1957 as the House of Gold madonna and child. (The Cordey example is not dual-marked.) Some online sellers include the name Cybis in their Cordey listings in case shoppers happen to collect both, but that does not necessarily indicate that the item for sale is actually dual-marked.

If anyone has additional examples of dual-signed Cordey + Cybis pieces, I’d be delighted to add photos to this post. There is a contact form at the link below.

Name Index of Cybis Sculptures
Visual Index (for Cybis human figures/busts only; no Cordey)

About the Cybis Reference Archive
What is Cybis?

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