How "Golden Memories" Became "Just a Memory"
Golden Memories (GM) was originally conceived as a series
within the NAO brand. As such, it was a loosely defined thematic category
that was essentially indistinguishable from the rest of the NAO
collection. Then, for some unknown reason, the company decided to launch GM
as a separate product line in 1992, a move which proved ill-fated.
Golden Memories had its own logo (a child lying on his stomach in grass
and flowers with a little dog in front of him), and the logo and series
name were incorporated into a light green backstamp. The copyright dates
models are generally the year before issue date, so the dates on the
base of Golden Memories figurines are 1991 through 1993,
corresponding to issue years
of 1992 through 1994.
This little guy is titled "Come Home Soon!" (Golden Memories
number 33012), a model from the ill-fated brand's first year. The facial features
on these first year models had the most affinity with other Lladró.
Note the uncharacteristically bright pink of the toy dog and phone.
(Photo by the author from her own collection.)
The faces of the first-year figures (1992, © 1991) had the greatest affinity with the
rest of Lladró. Unfortunately, the manufacturer
undercut the resemblance to other Lladó products by failing to use the famous company name in the
first-year mark. The first-year models were
very thinly potted, of a distinctive ceramic formula and matte texture markedly
different from Lladró's regular matte porcelain, and translucent as fine porcelain is supposed to be but
rarely is in figurine form. The colors in these models were
much more vivid pastels than normally associated with Lladró. These differences all but
obscured the similaritities with other Lladró products, and consumers don't seem to have
known what to make of the line.
The facial features on Golden Memories figurines were completely revamped
in the second year of production (1993, © 1992), and a more traditional
glazed surface was adopted for the line.
The eyes were round, large, and
uncharacteristically dark for Lladró, and the facial features appeared squashed and
somehow misshapen. I have always thought of these ugly-duckling, second-year models as
the proverbial "faces only a mother could love."
In the third year (1994, © 1993), the facial design was
revamped yet again. The big, dark eyes developed for the second year figurines were retained, but the faces and noses were more rounded
and childlike. A markting gimmick was added with bases that had mystical "shapes" (clover, half-moon,
hear, and star) that were supposed to have delinieated themes but were never consistently enough applied
to work that way.
Golden Memories was a brand in search of an
identity it never quite found, and it is difficult to discern a rationale
for its introduction. The best theory I've heard is that GM was
Lladró's attempt to capture a part of the modestly-priced but
volume-lucrative market niche occupied by Enesco's popular "Precious Moments"®. Unfortunately,
Lladró had too little experience producing figurines in the lower end of the market to be
successful competing within that segment.
At Last - A New Lladró Book!
The Lladró Guide; A Collector's Reference to Retired Porcelain Figurines in Lladró Brands
My most recent Lladró book has revised and expanded content and
remains the only book in print on this topic that isn't just a catalog. Covers all Lladró and
Lladró-affiliated brands (regular collection, NAO, Zaphir, Golden Memories,
Hispania, Rosal, and Tang) and tells how to distinguish them from imitations and counterfeits.
Revised and expanded content includes
many new photos and a new chapter on future directions for collectors and the company now that it has
passed from family hands. The book is in hard cover, which eliminates
that annoying curl-up that happens with paperback books.You can order the book directly from the publisher, Schiffer Books,
or from your favorite bookstore using the ISBN 13 number 978-0764358395.
Warning: If you're looking for a catalog
of every retired figurine Lladró ever made, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for beautiful, full-color photos of
representative models and more in-depth and well-researched
information about Lladró and its history and production than you can get in thumbnail photos with captions,
this book is what you're looking for.
Retail Price in Hardcover: $45