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.
A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró
by Peggy Whiteneck
Old Line Publishing, LLC
The publisher for this book has ceased publication, and I am now at work on a revised
and expanded edition, with a couple of promising leads for a new publishing option.
For the moment, then, this book will only be available on the retail market from
advance-ordered stock. You can still buy it used - but avoid the scalpers
and DO NOT PAY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR THESE SECOND-HAND BOOKS! There are plenty of
reasonably priced secondary market copies still available at online book sellers. Stay tuned to
this site for future news on the revised edition!
Ever since its founding in the 1950s and its subsequent, stellar rise to global prominence,
collectors have been fascinated with the singular modeling and attention to detail in
Lladró Spanish porcelain figurines. Eventually, collectors discovered that Lladró
wasn't just one brand, but several. At the same time, other companies began to sprout up all
over Spain, particularly around Lladró's own region in Valencia, working
"in the Lladró style" and hoping to catch a ride on the tailwinds of its popularity.
This book is written to acquaint readers with retired figurines in all the Lladró and
Lladró-affiliated brands and to help distinguish them from the work of other Spanish
companies. The book features substantive chapters on the Lladró "core brand,"
NAO by Lladró, Zaphir, Golden Memories, Rosal, and Hispania, complete with
representative photos for each brand.
Retail Price: $29.95