Bob White hors d’oeuvre bird (toothpick holder) size

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Question:

Hello , I am looking at buying a bob white red wing toothpick holder on line, there seems to be plenty available, but I noticed some sellers say it’s 9 inches tall and. Others say it is 8&a quarter inches tall, the shorter ones have a hard to read red wing on the bottom while the  9 inch is clear and easy to read. Could the shorter be a knock off? Can you tell me the correct height of the bob white tooth pick holder? Thank you !

Answer:

To my knowledge the Bob White hors d’oeuvre bird (toothpick holder) is not being reproduced. As the writer notes, there are plenty of original Red Wing holders available, thus there would be no great profit in reproducing new copies to sell.

The differences in the stated heights of various hors d’oeuvre birds could be due to several factors.  Irregularly shaped items like this are difficult to measure.  It’s not as easy as measuring the diameter of a plate or some other symmetrical object.  One person may take a measurement at a slightly different point than another or use a different method to obtain a measurement.

The mold used to form the bird is another factor.  All Bob White birds were not formed by the same mold; many different molds were used over the years of production.  There could be slight differences in size from mold to mold.  It’s also possible Red Wing intentionally altered the size slightly at some point.  I don’t know that to be true for this piece but during the Gypsy Trail years it was quite common.  The mold also accounts for the sharpness of the RED WING USA markings on the bottom.  The first bird made from a new mold will have sharp, clear markings.  The markings on the 100th bird made from that same mold will not be so sharp and clear because the mold gets worn down a bit with each use.  And it’s not only the markings that become less sharp. Other features of the item shaped by the mold become less distinct with each use.  Pieces formed by an old worn mold will have less value to today’s collectors than one with sharp, clear markings and features.

Variations in kiln firings are another potential source for slight variations in size.  A firing that went a little too long or was done at a higher temperature may result in a slightly smaller bird.

If the birds in question have the correct Bob White colors, they are almost certainly genuine Red Wing products.  It is very difficult for those in the reproduction business to exactly match the glaze colors used decades ago.

There is one caveat to consider.  When Red Wing Potteries went out of business in 1967, the company’s mold were sold to the public with no attempt to obliterate the RED WING markings in the molds. Many of these molds went to art schools and hobby shop potters.  Non-Red Wing items formed by genuine Red Wing molds frequently turn up for sale but usually they are quite easy to tell from the authentic Red Wing

product because the potter made no attempt to mimic the original.  Colors and decoration are not the same. Weight is another consideration; amateur pieces are usually heavier or lighter than the original due to the clay used to make the piece.  Amateur potters and art school students usually mark the piece with their name or initials and the year of production scratched into the wet clay.

Larry