El Portal Porcelana

"For People Passionate About Spanish Porcelain"

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For those interested in glass figurines, Fenton Art Glass Beasts, Birds & Butterflies is another of Peggy's books!

Also for those interested in glass, Fenton Art Glass Fairy Lamps & Lights is Peggy's latest book! It focuses on small, candle-lit "lamps" that were first used in the Victorian era to light dark hallways before the invention of gaslight or electricity.

The publisher for these Fenton book has gone out of business, but I am pursuing other publishing options for revised and expanded editions. Stay tuned! In the meantime, you may still find advance-ordered and used copies of these books at online booksellers.

Welcome to the Zaphir Pages!

The Zaphir brand and its connection to Lladró is even more of a mystery than the NAO brand. No one looking at a Zaphir-marked item could fail to note the more-than-passing resemblance not just to the Lladró style but to its quality as well.

This item is Zaphir #584, "Feeding My Colt," which retailed at $275 before the Zaphir brand was reincorporated into the NAO collection sometime in the early- to mid-1980s. The model is no longer being produced. (Photo from an original Zaphir catalog dated 1978.)

As it turns out, the sculptor for this brand was none other than Jose Puche, one of the famous core collection sculptors. (A full-page picture of him at work on a model is found in a 1978 Zaphir catalog in my possession.)

How this came about is an interesting matter for conjecture. Did the Lladró brothers give him leave to begin a new brand on their behalf? Or was he trying to strike out on his own?

In the history and tradition of pottery and porcelain-making, it was not unusual for artists to move from brand to brand and company to company. Similar movement in and out of the Lladró collections would only be surprising if it had not happened. [9/23/07 Update: Actually, I have an official NAO price list from Lladró for the year 1981 that has the intriguing headline "Zaphir (USA) Distribution Corp." So at least as of 1981, we have this circumstantial evidence that Zaphir was a Lladró-affiliated name. This doesn't, of course, rule out that Puche could have started a brand by that name on his own as early as 1978. It's also possible that Puche's company was, at least at that date, serving as the actual distribution network for the NAO by Lladró brand as well as its own Zaphir brand. After all, up until about the mid 1980s, some other company served as the distributor even for Lladró's core brand - whose distributor in those days was Weil Ceramics & Glass, Inc. In any case, this Zaphir distribution header on NAO's 1981 price list brings more mystery than clarity to the question of Zaphir's origins as a brand.]

Collector Carole Newnham sent me this photo of her three versions of the unknown model of a woman in regional dress (previously included in the Unidentified Zaphir page of my catalog). It's a fascinating study in model variants; the two end models are different colourways of glossy porcelain, and the middle model is what Zaphir identified as its Enamel finish, here with the decorative enhancements in kerchief and apron applied with enamel paint and then fused to a matte body. Carole, who lives in the UK, reports that she collects several brands of Lladró and non-Lladró Spanish porcelains.

In any event, the Zaphir collection was a relatively short-lived venture, from about 1978 to the early- to mid-1980s. Post Zaphir, Puche was brought back into the core collection fold, where he continues to this day. The last of the Zaphir models were recycled as NAO models, which kept the same serial numbers as their Zaphir originals. Hence, it is not uncommon to find clones of Zaphir models with NAO marks.

Speaking of the Zaphir mark, it consists solely of the cursive name Zaphir (with the script somewhat difficult to read, so that people sometimes mis-render it as "Laphin" or "Zaphin") and the legend "Hand Made in Spain," all in a green backstamp with no other logo or attribution. (Nor is there anything in the Zaphir retail catalog from 1978 that indicates it has any relation at all to Lladró.)

(What's It Worth?)

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, on Amazon, 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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