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 7/18/10: For my most recent conclusions about the identity of the
"renegade company" in question, see my new book, A Collector's Book of Retired Lladró!]
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