"Tang" - The Case of the Wingless
- © Peggy Whiteneck
Collector Brenda McCrary sent me
a set of pictures of a child in a
long white gown, seated and holding a tambourine (pictured below right). Note the Tang sticker on the
front of the item.
Collectors who are very familiar with older items in the NAO brand would
have a strong sense of dejá vu in looking at this item, which appears to be none other
than NAO's "Angel with Tambourine" (NAO model #11), only without the wings!
Left, frontal view of child with tambourine with Tang
Right, frontal view of NAO "Angel with Tambourine" with wings clearly visible.
The models would appear to be otherwise identical. (Any subtle differences noted in the facial detailing
would be a function
of camera angle.)
It seems clear that the same sculptor was responsible for this
child with tambourine, with or without the wings. This and other examples
of inter-brand cross-fertilization in Lladró raise a number of
about the direction of the influence. In this case, were Tang artisans
copying early NAO models? Or was Tang the originating brand for the model - in
which case Tang would have to have been pretty old indeed, since production
evidence suggests that NAO has been around about as long as Lladró's
regular collection? Or were Lladró sculptors working in both NAO and Tang
Left, back view of Tang child with tambourine - no wings.
Deepening the mystery, collector Jim Algeo shared with me the photos of
figure and base of a genuine Tang
figurine of a boy with lambs (pictured below) that looks very like the regular collection
Lladró model #4509, "Boy with Lambs" but whose minor differences prevent us from
concluding that it is a clone/identical twin. (Differences include the posture
of the boy's legs and the position of the lambs.)
It's a lovely model and, as it
so happens, has a Tang mark in a cobalt blue backstamp! (This is unusual
because Lladró has seemed, in all other cases, to have reserved the
cobalt mark color to items from its regular collection.) The modeling of the lambs is particularly delicate, and the legs on the
lamb are an example of the kind of modeling risk almost never found in
brands - both because most companies lack the skill and because production
costs are higher for items with separately articulated limbs.
At right, collector Paul Crawford
has graciously supplied a photo of a Tang in his own collection that also has the Tang cobalt blue mark.
Although the model is very like Lladró model #4510 ("Girl with Umbrella"), there are
notable differences - such as the reverse orientation of the entire figure
(Lladró #4510 has the basket on the model's right and the umbrella on her left),
the scarf across the lower part of the face on the Tang model, and the
slightly different orientation in the two models of the arm holding the basket.
(Collector Teresa Bennett
has an identical model to this Tang but
with an impressed Lladró mark. It's not unusual for Lladró to make modifications
in its models, and it's likely that what we eventually came to know as core collection model #4510
began its life as this variant.)
Lladró customer service staff in Spain, in response
to continuing collector questions, have lately agreed
that some of the most famous core collection sculptors also created several (perhaps all?) of the
early NAO models. So it's not all that surprising to see these kinds of affinities
between Tang and NAO as well.
So what does that all mean for collectors? Well, speaking strictly for myself,
I don't care what brand label they slap on it (Lladró,
Tang, NAO, Rosal, Zaphir...): With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a Lladró is a Lladró is a
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
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