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
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
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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