"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
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
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