Although the vast majority of Cybis porcelains were sold as individual sculptures, the studio did sometimes market certain pieces as having a specific relationship to another. However, the instances of them selling two items as an actual pair were relatively few. The various ‘related’ sculptures are best described as pairs, companions, series and sets.
First, we need to define what those terms mean. “Pair” obviously means that the two pieces were not offered for sale individually, but only as a duo for a single price. Only 11 of the hundreds of known Cybis pieces were marketed and sold by them strictly as a pair.
“Companion” is how the studio described two sculptures that were sold individually but described in their advertising literature as being a “companion to” or “mate to” another one. Sometimes the two pieces were introduced for sale at the same time (e.g., Spring 1979) or during the same year (such as Spring 1979 and Fall 1979), but there were quite a few instances where a year or more separated them. Companion pieces make up the bulk of the ‘related’ sculptures.
The terms Series and Set are very close but not necessarily interchangeable. I personally define a “series” as more than six closely related items that are announced as a series and then made available in some type of chronological order. (For some reason, six feels like the magic number that separates a group from a series, but YMMV!) By this definition, Cybis made no more than three of these. However, it’s important to mention that the “Collection” format that Cybis used is entirely different from what is being discussed here. The ever-shifting and murky concept of Cybis “collections” will be addressed in a separate Archive post.
One might well ask “What is the difference between a series and a set?” In all but one instance, the answer is “It depends.” The only true ‘set’ of Cybis was the Chess Set, in which all 32 pieces – plus storage case – were sold as one unit; but most people would also consider the individually-priced, chronologically-released Twelve Days of Christmas ornaments to be a “set” as well. But not always, because someone who collects bird ornaments would probably only buy six of them (partridge, turtle doves, French hen, calling birds, geese, and swans.) There’s no question that these ornaments were a series, though.
The groups below are arranged in chronological order by introduction year of the ‘older’ (if different) piece. My sorting criteria was simple: If any Cybis literature described it as a pair, a companion, or a definite series, that’s where I have placed them. Additional information and/or photos of the sculptures shown here can be found on the page linked to the sculpture’s name. At the end of the post are a few Honorable Mentions, meaning that although the studio never declared them as companion pieces, most people would assume they are or regard them as such.
SCULPTURES SOLD ONLY AS A PAIR
Of the eleven in this category, seven are from the 1950s. I have also put the Chess Set here because there was no way to purchase any of the Commemorative Set pieces individually. All of these are known to have been originally sold as a pair rather than individually. Many – probably most – of the 1950s pieces seen for sale today have become “singletons” via loss or breakage.
This is probably one of the early original design sculpts and appeared in 1953. The Angels in Adoration are 14” high. Cybis official sources differ on whether there was a color version as well.
The American Eagle pair appeared in 1954. They are 14” high and were made in white bisque and in color.
The Cherub Heads Wall Plaques are also from 1954 and, like the foregoing religious pair, were from commercial molds and are also the same size.
The Kneeling Angels were introduced in 1958, in both white bisque and color. They are a bit more than 5” high.
The subsequent ‘pair’ issues are all birds and all limited editions. The Skylarks appeared in 1958 and are about 8” high on their wood bases. Only 350 pairs were made. The female bird is the photo on the left.
The Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers appeared as a 200-pair limited edition in 1961. They are about 6” high and 10” wide including their wood bases. The female is the photo on the left.
1965 saw the introduction of the Solitary Sandpipers as an issue of 400 pair. They are 7.5” high. Cybis never identified which one was the male, and according to Peterson’s Field Guide there appears to be no discernible difference between the sexes – except to the birds themselves, of course!
The Blue Headed Vireos with Lilac are taller, being 12” high overall. The final 1967 edition size was slashed almost in half, to 275 pair. Most have white lilacs but see the linked post for a photo of at least one pair that was produced with pink flowers.
There was a gap of almost a decade until the next ‘pair’ edition from Cybis appeared, which was the Kinglets on Pyracantha in 1978. They are 7.5” high and had two edition size reductions before being closed after only 175 pair were made.
There was only one more pair-issue but only on a temporary basis, so I do consider the Kinglets to have been the final one. However, see the “Companions” section for what happened with the 1988 Swans in Motion.
Because, like the pairs shown above, the 1979 Commemorative Chess Set was sold as a unit I am including it in this section. Only 10 sets were produced.
1950s PROBABLE COMPANIONS BUT SOLD SEPARATELY
The 1950s religious pieces in general are tricky because of spotty documentation. Three of the four pieces shown below are listed separately in the Appendix of the 1978/79 Cybis catalogs. No literature currently in my possession describes any as a pair but they were clearly produced from commercial molds that were created in a paired format. None of them has a specific issue year other than simply “1950s” and so we don’t know if they came onto the retail market at the same time or not (though logic suggests that they did.) None were limited editions. For those reasons, I regard these as ‘probable’ companions.
Even the name of these two busts suggests they were meant (by the studio) to be companions although sold separately: the Jesus bust is Sun of Justice and Mary is Mirror of Justice. The no-halo-or-base pieces are 11” high and were made in white and and color; the halo/base version is 17” high and appears to have been made in color only.
There are innumerable examples of both hobby and commercial castings of this same Holland Mold pair of 7” high Jesus and Mary busts. As was very typical for their 1950s religious pieces, Cybis adorned some with a rose – yes, the Jesus busts too — and left others plain. In this case (and perhaps others as well) they assigned different design numbers according to whether or not the piece received the rose decoration. (The gold-paint design on a piece’s collar varied.)
These are not included in the 1978 Appendix either, but several signed examples of this Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus bust duo have been found in recent years. These too were made in a no-roses and with-roses version. At least one with-roses version of the Mary bust also had lace trim added to her veil. This is another clear case of two 1950s Cybis that were probably sold separately despite the molds originally being designed as a pair.
All three chronologically-issued series are Christmas items: two nativity, and one ornament series.
As described in their Archive post, the 1950s Nativity Murals were sold separately but was obviously marketed as a series (unless a buyer wanted only the three-person creche piece, but the studio did have a different item called Pillar of Families to fill that particular niche also.) A full “set” comprised seven pieces (assuming only one camel) and they were made in both white bisque and color. The color photo above shows all of the pieces in the series but with two camels instead of just one. What we don’t know is whether Cybis made these available all at once or brought them out over a period of two or more years, because I have never found any price lists or other sales literature from that era.
Their second nativity effort, The First Christmas, was definitely a series. It was announced in 1982 with the issuance of the first three pieces: Mary, Joseph, and Christ Child with Lamb. None of them were limited editions. The series continued in 1983 with the three kings/wise men, and in 1984 with the Shepherd, Camel I, and Nativity Angel Kneeling. The next nine additions do not have confirmed issue years and so are shown above as “late 1980s-early 1990s.” Two of those nine were not made for the series but were re-issues of earlier non-nativity pieces that were ‘drafted’ into service in order to enlarge the nativity ‘series’: The reclining burro and upward-looking lamb at the top of the second collage had begun their lives as Benjamin in 1983 and Muffy Fluffy Sheep in 1981. The recumbent camel is simply the top part of the first camel with folded legs added, and the third angel is made of the top and bottom halves of two other angels put together.
In the early 2000s the studio tried to bring in two unrelated (in either design or purpose) angels into the nativity series to further “pad” it. The Little Angel (left) had been a 1986 ‘Children to Cherish collection’ piece, and the Guardian Angel appeared as if from nowhere in 2001. Neither bear any resemblance in style to the actual nativity series pieces and I don’t think that Cybis’ attempted marketing ploy convinced anyone that they were (despite the addition of a “white with gold” alternate colorway.) I myself don’t consider either of these to be part of the First Christmas nativity series.
The Twelve Days of Christmas holiday ornament series was launched in 1989, the final year that the studio engaged in full-time-staff production. The intent was obviously to design the entire series and then dole them out gradually over the ensuing decade. Unfortunately, I do not have any price lists between 1990 and 1993 but by that time they were offering the first five ornaments; by 1995 there were seven; and by the spring of 1999 the series had ended. So, there were clearly some years during which more than one ornament was made available, although the studio was not actually producing any except “on order” by that time.
SOLD SEPARATELY BUT DESCRIBED AS COMPANION PIECES
More than two dozen “couples” of Cybis pieces were described by them as being companions or mates even though they were all sold separately.
The majority of companion pieces are human figures although there are three bird studies also. The Bridled Titmouse, male and Bridled Titmouse, female were both issued as open editions although Cybis literature differs as to whether it was in 1960 or 1961. They are six inches high. I have never seen an actual piece of either one come up for sale.
The Carolina Paroquet male and female were produced from 1962 to 1965 as open editions. The male bird is the one on the left and is 8” high, the female being slightly shorter.
We need to fast-forward a quarter century to 1988 for the next two birds to qualify for a ‘companion’ designation: the Swans in Motion. As usual, the studio confused things by initially offering this as a pair of two sculptures for a single (100 pair edition) price of $12,500 and designing it so that the wood bases could be placed adjacent to one another if desired. Market reality reared its ugly head fairly soon and we then see their 1993 price list now has the Swan (wings out) and Swan (wings up) offered as individual pieces as well. Because my other “sold as a pair” examples were never sold separately, I consider the Swans as companion pieces that happened to at one time have a “discounted” pair price option (something the studio briefly experimented with during the early 1990s and then stopped.)
The human figure companions are divided into busts and full figure studies. With one exception, all of the companion busts were open (non-limited) editions that depicted children.
The earliest of these is the Head of Girl and Head of Boy, both from 1953. These are the original versions which are about 9.75” high on their wood bases. There was a subsequent Hall of Fame reproduction edition in 1991 but those are 2” shorter overall. Because those were exact copies of the originals except for size, I do not consider them as a separate ‘companion issues.’
The Baby Girl Head and Baby Boy Head appeared in 1967 and are 11” high.
Here we have the first instance of companion busts separated by more than a year in retail release. Both are examined in more detail in the Mythology post. Eros (Cupid Head) was introduced in 1974 but his companion Psyche didn’t appear until 1980. Both are approximately 10” high.
The Indian Boy ‘Little Eagle’ and Indian Girl ‘Running Deer’ are the only child busts that were not mounted on some type of base. Both appeared in 1975. Running Deer is 10” high and because of his headdress Little Eagle is 12.5” high. This may be why the studio opted not to add any extra height via a base.
The original Funny Face child clown head appeared in 1976 but it took a decade for Cybis to give him a female companion: Valentine, in either 1986 or 1987 (sources differ.) Both were also offered in a holiday-decorated version titled “Funny Face with Holly” and “Valentine with Holly” starting in the second half of their introduction years. They are between 9” and 10” high.
The next four years saw a succession of brother/sister child busts that the studio seemingly could not decide whether to call “Children to Cherish” or “Children of the World” (one of the several reasons why their Collections concept should be totally ignored.) Jeremy (1977) and his sister Jennifer (1979) were the first of these and are 9.5” high.
African-American(?) siblings were portrayed as Jason (1978) and Jessica (1979.)
The next companion busts were Oriental Boy ‘Cheerful Dragon’ (Shi Lun) in 1979 and Oriental Girl ‘Lotus Blossom’ (Lien Hua) in 1980. They are the same height as the other child busts.
The final sibling bust duo was Edward and Victoria, both representing Victorian era children and both introduced in 1981.
The only limited edition and non-child companion busts both appeared in 1989: Cleopatra and Marc Antony (Cybis has him in their 1990s price lists as “Mark Anthony” which is of course wrong and makes him sound like a pop singer, so I am pulling rank and spelling his name the correct way in the Archive!) Both are about 9” tall and although they were described as being an issue of 1000, it is unlikely that more than a couple hundred (if even that) were actually made. I have not seen any for sale with sculpture numbers higher than the low 100s.
The full-figure companion pieces were a mixture of limited and non-limited editions. Most of the limited editions are between 12” and 13” high, and the open editions about half that height. If an edition size isn’t mentioned, that means the sculptures were open editions.
The biggest time gap between companions belongs to Wendy and Michael from the Peter Pan story (about which I’ll have more to say later.) Wendy first appeared in 1957, but Michael not until 1984! Twenty-seven years is quite a stretch to wait for one’s long-lost brother to show up. Cybis explicitly described Michael in one piece of advertising as “mate to Wendy.”
Shakespeare inspired several Cybis companions, the first of which were Hamlet and Ophelia. Hamlet was a limited edition of 500 in 1965, and Ophelia an issue of 800 in 1969. Both were completed during the same year (1974.)
The Sleeping Beauty ballet companions, the Enamoured Prince Florimund and the Enchanted Princess Aurora, were introduced together (and rightly so) in 1973. Although the original declared edition size was larger, only 200 of each were actually made.
Here we have another time-gap between companion pieces, this time being the female and male centaurs Cybele and Theron. Cybele was an edition of 500 in 1973 which was completed in 1982. However, her companion Theron, The Hunter only appeared in 1982 which was the year in which Cybele departed. (Both were designed by the same artist, Lynn Klockner Brown.) Theron was a smaller edition, of 350, but it’s not known if it was completed or closed early; by the 1988 price list he is gone. Some interesting trivia about these two designs can be found in the Flights of Fantasy post.
Back to the fairy tales we go, with Hansel and Gretel, both from 1974. During the 1970s Cybis produced a number of open edition children from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, many of which were designed by Marylin Chorlton.
A nursery rhyme duo was Little Bo Peep in 1977 followed by Lamb ‘Mandy’ in 1979.
Queen Titania was a limited edition of 750 in 1977, although she was actually a reworking of a retired early-1960s piece. Her consort Oberon didn’t show up until 1985 but something was obviously amiss in Fairyland because despite being a declared issue of 750, he was gone from the studio’s offerings by 1988. But they were Cybis companions/mates/spouses for about three years, anyway.
Cybis identified Alice, Allegra and Edith specifically as Longfellow’s The Children’s Hour sisters upon their introduction in 1978, although of course they put them into the Children to Cherish Collection in price lists.
The only full-figure historical-personage companion pieces Cybis issued were Berengaria and Richard the Lionheart … although they certainly had ample opportunity to do so based on the “singles” that they did produce. Berengaria appeared first, in 1979 as an edition of 500. Richard arrived in 1982 (somewhat mirroring his real-life counterpart who spent most of his life away from his queen) as an edition of 350.
Another fairy duo was Pip, the Elfin Player in 1979, followed by Melody in 1981. Cybis described Melody as “Pip’s companion, who inclines her head to better hear the merry notes of his flute.”
The two opera-based companion figures are Harlequin and Columbine, from the Italian commedia dell’arte genre. Both represent comic ‘servant’ characters. Harlequin appeared on the Cybis stage in 1980 and Columbine in 1981. Both were editions of 250 and both were either closed or completed before 1988 with a final actual edition size not known.
We find another circa-1980s Shakespeare couple in Desdemona (1982) and Othello (1983). Her edition of 350 sold out within six years, but Othello’s same-size issue took much longer; he was still on their 1993 price list and remained on their web site into the 2000s. It’s unlikely that the full Othello complement was made.
We revisit the nursery rhymes with Lucy Locket (at left) in 1983 and Kitty Fisher in 1984.
The second Guinevere study, but the only one with a companion, was Queen Guinevere in 1983 in an edition of 500. Her mate King Arthur was issued the following year as a smaller edition, of 350. More details about them can be found in the Literature post.
Cybis slightly fractured the traditional Grimm’s fairy tale by misnaming one of the two limited-edition sisters that they released in 1986. Both were declared editions of 750 that probably never reached nearly that number. Rose Red (at left) is named correctly, but Rose White is not… in the story, she was called “Snow White” although she has no connection to the one of seven-dwarfs fame.
The final Cybis open-edition companion child pieces were Bedtime Beth and Bedtime Jody in 1986.
In 1987 the studio launched their Wedding collection which of course included wedding party figures and, eventually, more than one bride-and-groom option. The first was the Bride, Commemorative in 1987 as an edition of 1000. (The “commemorative” in this case meant that it could commemorate the actual event of someone’s wedding.) She was available in a choice of three hair colors to better personalize the piece. The Bridegroom (later renamed simply Groom) appeared in 1988 and originally included the flower-topped plinth. He popped in and out of price lists thereafter, as an edition of 1000, but it’s likely that only a small fraction of that number were ever made.The bridal party could be expanded to include a Flower Girl and/or Ring Bearer if desired, starting in 1988. They were open editions that disappeared in the mid-1990s.
There are a few pieces that don’t quite fit into the “companion” category for one quibble or another, but from another point of view might do so very well. This is very much a “you be the judge” situation!
We’ve already seen that Cybis officially paired Michael with Wendy when he eventually was introduced, but what about the other two 1950s pieces based on the same story? Wendy was the first, but Peter Pan appeared the following year (1958) and then Tinker Bell in 1959. Given the relationship of Peter and Tink in the book, wouldn’t it have been logical to connect those two in the same way as Wendy/Michael? Both Peter and Tinker Bell were retired together in 1970, leaving only Wendy to wait around – no doubt drumming her fingers and tapping her foot – for her errant brother to show up.
Talk about a legendary literary couple: Could any be more well-known than Minnehaha and Hiawatha?? It almost invites the current trend of melded nicknames (Minnewatha? Hiahaha? eek!!) Cybis even introduced their portrayals during the same year (1969.) However, even though none of the other pieces in their just-launched North American Indians collection depicted a couple, the studio never marketed these two as companion pieces. I do suspect that some collectors may have nevertheless bought them on that basis because in my opinion these were companion pieces in effect, even if not in (marketing) fact.
My friend who specializes in early retail Cybis would probably hang me by my thumbs if I didn’t include these two busts in this post! They are both that very unusual case of a piece that has a 1950s Cybis stamp but is also clearly, without a shadow of doubt, 100% Cordey in design. They scream “Cordey” so loudly that one needs to reach for earplugs. (If any more of these turn up, I may have to coin a new description for them: either “Corbis” or “Cydey”!) Because the stamp is a Cybis one we might (?) assume that these were made in the very early 1950s but they could also be from the late 1940s as well …. because Cordey production began in 1942, and we don’t know precisely when the blue Cybis stamps began to be used. The number 40 painted on the bottom of one is definitely a Cordey characteristic. Another Cordey characteristic is that figurines were always sold separately (check out my ongoing series about Cordey that includes vintage newspaper ads) regardless of their physical appearance, although some were pictured adjacent to each other in the Cordey salesman’s catalog. Throw in a few Cordey-style “couples” with both the Cordey and Cybis signature on them and we’ve got a perfect recipe for confusion. Someone has to bring a bit of order to the chaos and it looks like I’m it, so for purposes of ‘matchmaking’ I’m going to posit that
If the pieces are only signed Cybis but they look exactly like Cordey, they are not “designated companions” in the modern-studio sense.
At the very least, these two do deserve their honorable mention!
It’s a shame that the Cybis studio didn’t expand their companion-piece efforts further than they did in regard to the limited-edition full figures at least. A quick scan of that genre suggests a few additions that could have been very interesting, had they ever been done:
Sir Lancelot (for Elaine, The Lady of the Lake)
Mr. Rochester (for Jane Eyre)
Maid Marian (for Robin Hood)
Akhenaten (for Nefertiti)
Henry II (for Eleanor of Aquitaine)
a Prince and/or a Fairy Godmother (for any of the Cinderellas)
a Best Man and Maid of Honor for the wedding party (there was a nominal, borrowed “bridesmaid” but not really)
The fact that most of the missing companions would have been adult male full figures may have been the reason why they were never done. I can definitely picture a brooding Mr. Rochester being modeled on, say, actor Richard Armitage; watch him in North & South or as Guy of Gisborne in the BBC Robin Hood series if you don’t believe me. A historically-accurate depiction of the Pharaoh Akhenaten would have been fascinating, especially since no other porcelain studio ever did one. Surely a Peter O’Toole-based Henry II for the Katherine-Hepburn-modeled Cybis Eleanor would have been downright awesome. And it does seem grossly unfair that none of the three ball-gowned Cinderellas were ever given a Prince to dance with!
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The Cybis Archive is a continually-updated website that provides the most comprehensive range of information about Cybis within a single source. It is not and never has been part of the Cybis Porcelain studio, which is no longer in business.