Was Rosal the Precursor of NAO -
Reaction to It...?
by Peggy Whiteneck
[Please Note: The following page contains some
informed conjecture based on
what is currently known or can be known to people
outside the Lladró company itself. As such, it should be taken as
theory, and I hereby
disavow in advance any "Whiteneck says" references, in eBay auction
descriptions or anyplace else where, without my knowledge or consent,
my musings here may be misrepresented as fact.]
It's interesting to note that the item pictured at right,
and bearing the Rosal sticker pictured on the previous web page,
is an identical twin of one of the first NAO models (# 11),
"Angel with Tambourine." This would imply a production chronology that
would be at least consistent with
José Lladró's claim that Rosal was the forerunner brand for NAO.
Nevertheless, the decision to retain the Rosal brand under another name
is perhaps the most astonishing aspect of José Lladró's
account. It tells us that what started out as a temporary brand,
meant merely as a kind of dueling foil against a threatening
competitor, actually became a permanent part of Lladró production -
a fateful decision which, from a collector
perspective, makes little apparent sense.
José Lladró's memoir makes
it clear that the episode with its renegade sculptor(s) was painful
and deeply resented by the Lladró brothers. If
memory serves José Lladró well and his account of how the Rosal brand
eventually became NAO is accurate, then the resentment attached to that whole
episode would go some way to explaining the extraordinary ambivalence
with which the company has always seemed to regard its NAO product, talking
it down in relation to the regular Lladró collection and resisting collector
efforts to learn more about it. It would appear that at least some of the
resentment toward the renegade company has been displaced onto Lladró's
... And What Was the Renegade Brand?
My first inclination was to believe that José Lladró's unnamed rebel
company was Zaphir, for which I have an old catalog and whose factory, as
it happens, was located in Chirivella, where José says the upstart
factory was located. This Zaphir retail catalog explicitly claims - and
pictures with a photograph - Lladró's famous core collection
sculptor José Puche as the sculptor for Zaphir, but there is nothing whatever else in the catalog
to connect it with Lladró. That would be consistent with the "renegade sculptor"
aspect of the story.
The problem was I couldn't square my theory about a Rosal-Zaphir
connection with the chronology
in José Lladró's memoir; Zaphir began production at
least a decade after the timeframe José Lladró gives for the competitive incident
described in his book.
Moreover, Zaphir didn't
cease production until about 1984, and José's memory of the incident
in question has its resolution roughly coinciding with the opening of Lladró's own City of Porcelain (Lladró's present
factory and facilities), which would have been around 1969.
This matte model of a little girl in a poncho seated on a cushion
is pictured in the second edition of my book as an unidentified and unattributable
item, one of several kid-in-poncho models whose faces look an awful lot like
Lladró but that are nearly always found unmarked. Given what we now
now about Rosal, it's very possible such items were Rosal with paper stickers that later fell
off. A closeup of the face shows
its affinity with Lladró, a tell-tale likeness that other companies have
been unable to duplicate successfully. (Photos by the author from an item in her
I can't think of any other
items enough like Lladró to have been considered such a competitive
threat by the Lladrós - and I believe that, by now, we've encountered
all of the possible suspects through eBay - unless that brand were NAO
itself. Actually, that is not
beyond the realm of possibility and might account for why José
Lladró so scrupulously avoids using the rebel brand name in his
account. We already know there
were mid-60s era Lladró models being produced with NAO marks,
and by one or more of Lladró's own sculptors. On the other hand,
José's account makes it pretty clear that the renegade product's name as well
as its factory were consigned to the dust-bins of time (while NAO is
still alive and well)...The mystery continues!
[Note 12/14/2019: For my most recent conclusions about the identity of the
"renegade company" in question, see my new Lladró book described below!]
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