In addition to the various catalogs, brochures, and price lists that made up the bulk of the Cybis studio’s advertising materials, there were also promotional items that weren’t readily available to the general public. One example is the Cybis-logo pin/pendant made by Terryberry and shown in the Cybis Jewelry post. Such items were created for their retailers’ use, and typically ended up going to the higher-volume customers. I recently became aware of another of these promo items: Boxes of Cybis greeting cards.
These cards were produced – judging by the images chosen for the card covers – during the early 1980s and seemingly for only three years. Many thanks to Greg Madl of Swan House Miniatures for telling me of the existence of these Cybis greeting cards and kindly sending me one of each so that I can feature them in this Archive post!
The Cybis cards were packaged as a box of 12, with accompanying plain white envelopes. The card size (as folded) is 4” x 6”, and the card stock itself feels like 80#. (Compared to the typical Hallmark or Papyrus card stock today, it is lighter but then again, we are talking about the 1980s here.) The entire card has a satin finish, which is about midway between matte and glossy, throughout. The envelopes are bright white and rather thin.
The inside of the card is blank. The back of the card has a line describing the sculpture shown, and identifying the studio.
Unfortunately, none of the cards are dated and so we can only make a guess as to which design came first. Thus, I will show them here in alphabetical order according to the name of the sculpture used.
Eros was a long-running open (non-limited) edition; he was continually available from the studio, starting with his introduction in 1974. Because of his relatively accessible price, he was a good seller with wide appeal; this made him a staple of most Cybis collections.
There would eventually be seven iterations of the Holiday Child, starting with the first one in 1980 which does not quite match the piece in the photograph used for the greeting card (left). This was one of those instances where the official Cybis photo of a sample piece ended up being different from what actually went out the door to retailers. The Fall 1980 Introductions brochure from Cybis also used this photo, which shows a stocking with a white background. The pieces that were actually made, however, have stockings with a green background instead. Everything else (the child’s nightgown, the panda bear, etc.) remained the same, but the stocking background color was changed from what the official photo showed. So, although this photograph must date from 1979 or early 1980 (because it was used for the Fall 1980 brochure) it does not exactly represent any of the real Holiday Children. The closest match is the Fall 1994 Holiday Boy who has the same white-background stocking and the same panda bear, but the boy’s collar edge, collar tie, and sleeve cuffs are painted blue. None of the three 1980s Holiday Children have paint in those areas.
The Bride (known to collectors as ‘The Polish Bride’) was introduced with much fanfare as a limited edition in Spring 1980, which means that the first sculptures were physically produced in 1979. This photograph, used as the cover of one of the greeting cards, was also used for this 1980 brochure:
One might assume that the painting in the background of the photo is the original 1930s oil painting by Boleslaw Cybis upon which the porcelain sculpture is based. However, some quick math shows that it cannot be the actual painting.
This is because the Cybis studio did not own the original 1930s painting until April 1980, when it and another Cybis painting unexpectedly came up for auction at Sotheby’s New York. By that time, this promotional photo for The Bride had already been taken, probably sometime in the late summer or autumn of 1979 in order to be sent to the printer in plenty of time to have an adequate supply of brochures ready to send to retailers in January 1980. Luckily, the Cybis studio already had a photograph of the original painting! They had obtained one from the Dayton Art Institute a decade earlier, in order to display it in the 1970-71 Cybis in Retrospect exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum. Dayton would not lend their originals but did send a large photographic image of both. This is why the studio had a representation of the actual painting on hand to use as the background of their brochure/greeting card photo almost a decade later, before they ever had a chance to acquire the real thing. There is a black-and-white photo of Joe Chorlton with both actual original paintings, in the Archive post about The Bride.
You may be thinking “Wait a second; how do you know that the brochure/greeting-card photo wasn’t taken just after the studio won the painting at the auction in April 1980?” That is a good question, but two things show that it was indeed taken earlier. First, because in the lower left corner of the back of the brochure there appears S80. Couldn’t this mean Summer 80, rather than Spring 80? It could, but for the second fact which is that The Bride does not appear in the studio’s Spring 1980 Introductions brochure at all, but instead was given her own separate brochure (and at a $6500 price point, she definitely rated it…as had the Commemorative Chess Set the year before.) The deliberate omission indicates that the two brochures (The Bride and Spring 1980 Introductions) were created and disseminated simultaneously. To not have done so, would have meant that The Bride would have had no Spring 1980 printed vehicle at all. Therefore, the painting seen in the brochure/card image must be the photographic enlargement that was displayed in 1970 and retained by the studio, rather than being the actual 1930s oil painting itself.
This is the tagline on the back of each Cybis greeting card. It does not indicate the year of manufacture, nor the print shop who produced them – although I’m sure they were done somewhere in Trenton.
My own guess is that the production years for the greeting cards were 1980, 1981 and 1982 if the order was Bride->Holiday Child->Eros. However, if Eros came first, then it would most likely have been 1979, 1980, and 1981 (Eros->Bride->Holiday Child.) This assumes that only one design was printed per year, rather than all three distributed in a single year; in that case, my guess is that the Year of the Cybis Greeting Cards was either 1980 or 1981.
If anyone happens to have a Cybis greeting card that is different from the three shown here, please let me know because I would love to add it to this post. At this time, however, it appears as though there were only these three designs.
Thanks again to Greg Madl for the opportunity to add this Cybis promotional item to the Archive!
Name Index of Cybis Sculptures
Visual Index (for human figures/busts only)
About the Cybis Reference Archive
What is Cybis?
Images of Cybis porcelain sculptures are provided for informational and educational purposes only. All photographs are copyrighted by their owner as indicated via watermark and are used here only as reference material. Please see the copyright notice in the footer and sidebar for important information regarding the text that appears within this website.
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.