The Curious Cases of Zaphir Clones of Models in the Regular
Lladró Collection & Zaphir Models with Old NAO marks
It is known that some of the Zaphir models can be found
with later NAO marks because, when Lladró closed the Zaphir brand around
1982 or so, any Zaphir models then in production were brought over into
the NAO brand. (Many of these were, in fairly short order, also retired from NAO
production as well.) I do not consider these items "clones" in the sense
I have used that term to describe NAO
clones because, in the Zaphir to NAO evolution, we are talking about a
natural phase-out of one brand into another. In discussing "clones," then, I
am talking about a more episodic "twinning" phenomenon in which a few items
made in NAO or Zaphir have also been found with old, impressed core collection
For some time, veteran collectors have also been familiar
with the phenomenon of NAO-marked clones of older Lladró pieces, including
some of the core collection pieces catalogued as rare in company sources
(items usually numbered with a decimal point).
I scanned this picture of Zaphir's "Elf" #601 from a 1978 Zaphir retail catalog.
Having seen this item in the
Zaphir catalog of this web site, a collector recently
contacted me to say that he has
a nearly identical item marked with an old, impressed Lladró mark. (Under
the circumstances described here, I'm not at all surprised!) The
only difference, he says, is that his Lladró-marked item has a
quiver of arrows tucked into that space between the figure's body and the branch
of the tree stump.
Once again, sculptor Fulgencio García appears to have been the
link in this mystery of models shared among the three brands. As is
the case with all the NAO clones of core collection items, García was the
core collection sculptor of record for all the Lladró models
that have been found with Zaphir marks (see table below). Thus, even though a 1978
catalog for Zaphir identifies Jose Puche (also a famous sculptor of the
core collection) as "the" sculptor for the Zaphir collection,
it now appears that at least a few of the Zaphir models were sculpted
by García and others.
Stranger still, a few
Zaphir-marked items of core collection pieces have also been found - again,
including at least two of the decimal-point numbered rarities. Recently, also, I was contacted by
Gill Billington of the United Kingdom, who sent me photos of the model and
base of what is the first example I've come across of a Zaphir model with an
older NAO mark (the original brown backstamp), an item that does not appear otherwise
to have been catalogued in the NAO line.
What makes all this especially intriguing is that there is no evidence that Zaphir
is as old as either the NAO collection or
the regular Lladró collection. As far as I've been able to determine, Zaphir
was not on the scene much before the late 1970s, giving the other two collections
a good ten years or more of a head start on its production. How, then, Zaphir would have been
recycling older Lladró and NAO models is something of a puzzle.
Gill Billington of the UK supplied me with these photos of what is clearly
Zaphir model #558, "Little Shepherd." Thing is, though, this one has an original NAO backstamp!
So it can't have been subsequently produced as
a NAO with the same serial number (which is more generally the case with NAO marks on
Zaphir models) because the NAO mark is an older one that predates the Zaphir line and its model numbering.
This is the first example I know of in which the NAO model was made before
the Zaphir of the same model. [Photos courtesy of Gill Billington.]
Whenever I come across another of these odd connections, I find myself wishing I'd been a fly
on the wall to know how this all got started - and how it eventually sorted
itself out into three different brands!
LIST OF ZAPHIR ALSO FOUND
IMPRESSED LLADRÓ MARKS
- #729, "Satyr" (#1) [with cymbals]
- #730, "Satyr" (#2) [with pan flute]
- #731, "Satyr Group"
- #732, "Athena" (later made as NAO #732)
- #733, "Aristotle"(later made as NAO #733)
- #1006, "Pan with Cymbals"
- #1007, "Pan with Flute"
- #1008, "Satyr Group"
- #343.13, "Greek Shepherdess"
- #342.13, "Greek Shepherd"
Notes: Zaphir #731, Satyr Group, is listed in the Zaphir price list for 1981 and is
presumed to be the same model as Lladró #1008 based on the pattern established
by the individual satyr models.
It is also fascinating to know that the "Athena" and "Aristotle" models are the
only items known to have been made under all three brand marks, as these were
also made as NAO!
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.