CURRENT STATUS OF THE BOSSONS MARKET
A Plea for help from all Bossons Collectors, Dealers and others interested
Donald M. Hardisty
It is imperative
that avid Bossons collectors take notice and help alleviate copyright
infringements, unauthorized colorings, and fraudulent copies confronting the
Bossons collecting world today. If we
truly care about these original art forms, created for our enjoyment and
lasting value, a constant vigilance is necessary.
Looking at the Past
As we know, the late William Henry Bossons founded Bossons
in 1946. When he died in 1951, his son, W. Ray Bossons took charge as Director.
In 1958, Ray oversaw the designing of our first “Character Wall Masks.” Like his father, he made certain standards
were maintained and the authenticity of the Bossons creations were not only of
the highest quality, but protected against unauthorized paintings and copies.
Personally, I witnessed Ray Bossons determination to eliminate any
illegal copies of Bossons. I
saw hundreds of chalk copies of military masks, Series B heads, and many of the
wildlife Bossons stored in apple boxes under the counters at a Ceramics Shop in Alamogordo, New Mexico. We speculated that Bossons were replicated
from those sold in the PX’s at Holloman Air Base and White Sands Missile Range.
I wrote Ray about the copies. He immediately sent the following letter
to the Shop owners in Alamogordo.
“W. H, Bossons [Sales] Limited
We are the creators of original copyrighted Artware,
particularly character wall heads, and we understand that your company is
currently selling items that are copies of our models.
sale of these copies constitutes copyright infringement and unfair competition.
In order to avoid litigation in this matter we must
have your immediate written assurances
all sales of such copies will cease forthwith.
We trust that this matter will be amicably settled.
However, if we do not receive your
that sales of these infringing copies have ceased, we shall be obligated to
to seek both damages and injunctive relief.
Yours faithfully, W. Ray Bossons, Managing Director”
This was the response letter of the Ceramic Dealer via his attorney:
W. Ray Bossons W. H
Bossons Sales Limited, Brook Mills, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 1DQ
RE: The Cermaics Shop, Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA Dear
Mr. Bossons: I
have been requested to review your letter to the Alamogordo Ceramic shop and the
enclosed information entitled “Character Wall Heads.” The owner also wishes to avoid any litigation in this matter. Without
disclosure or admission as to any infringement, they will
discontinue use of any reproductions that may raise questions of copyright
Should you have questions in regard to this matter,
please feel free to contact me. Very truly yours, R.R.B.. Attorney at Law"
We visited the
Shop a couple weeks later and noticed that all the apple boxes
with their plaster contents had disappeared. Further, I have more
examples where Ray took other dealers to court and won suits against them. He
was determined to protect Bossons from the illegal pirating of our
collectibles. (Soon after this incident this same ceramics dealer went out of business).
The Challenge for Bossons Collectors
Ray Bossons retired in 1994 and died in May 1999. We are now left with a monumental problem of
policing the industries and markets on our own. Jane Roberts Bossons, his
daughter and attorney, directed the operations until closing in December 1996. Now individuals who are avid collectors and honest dealers throughout the world must help. The International Bossons Collectors Society(IBCS) has been entrusted with the responsibility of taking a lead in dealing with these kinds of problems.
Through direct verbal and written communications with Ken Potts, Factory Foreman and principal Moldmaker at Bossons over the years, it was consoling to know that under the direction of Jane Bossons, Ken assured
me that the original molds he had stored under lock and key would never be
copied or sold. As recently as 2009, I discussed the problem with Richard Bossons, Ray's Son, who indicated a great concern in protecting the integrity of original and authentic Bossons as true works of art throughout the world. In Ray’s latter years, Ken was one of the only life-long and
trusted confidants who visited Ray’s side. We can all unite in our efforts to maintain the integrity of Bossons throughout the
Since 1995, I have written annual survey articles on Bossons
for the International Schroeder’s
Antique Price Guides. In a prepublication draft for the 2008 Edition of
this publication, I addressed the problem this way:
“…Bossons are no longer produced, and as such are
becoming very collectible.
Unfortunately, unauthorized paintings and fraudulent moldings are
circulating throughout the secondary markets worldwide, especially on the Internet. We have
tangible evidence of illegal copies of all categories of
Bossons being made and distributed from other countries. (This author presented an extensive and
documented iMovie lecture at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the IBCS concentrating on the numerous copies of Bossons that were being illegally copied and poorly painted and freely sold on the Internet.) Character Masks of Caspian Woman, Gilded Winston Churchill and Harry Wheatcroft; Wildlife including Squirrel, Raccoon and Chipmunks; and Dogs of
Distinction, e.g., Bassett Hound and Alsation were sold by individuals and dealers on eBay.
But these discussions are not enough to prevent the continued proliferation of the frauds. Being fully aware that unauthorized paintings and
fraudulent moldings are circulating throughout the secondary markets, we can
excuse the innocent, who lack the background and experience in recognizing the
fakes; however, it is especially serious when well-known collectors are seen
buying these products on eBay. We encourage all to make every
possible effort to avoid buying these fake Bossons.
One of the best approaches is to write these sellers in diplomatic and positive
terms encouraging them to join us in eliminating fraudulent and inferior
Bossons products from the Internet. Very often the sellers are not well informed
about Bossons and are usually happy to cooperate. Here is a sample of one recent experience that can serve as an
example of how one can solicit cooperation through ‘helpful’ comments.
To: an eBay seller making contact through the eBay link of “ask
seller a question:”
“I trust you are aware these figures are fraudulent
copies of our Military Masks from Bossons.
Kindly help us rid eBay of these horrible copies of
the ‘Imagical World of Bossons." Back to Home: I am always ready to assist, please contacct us through our website: www.collectiblebossons.com
After closing the auction, the seller identified herself and
sent back these comments:
and thank you for the information…I appreciate it. When I purchased these
pieces, I thought they were quite well made, and the finish on them, along with
the detail was quite good. I had no idea what they were, and my knowledge about
Bossons is negligible…I thought that I had seen Bossons on eBay which looked
similar to these Pieces. I realized that these pieces were not signed,
“Bossons,” but I thought that perhaps, some Bossons pieces were not signed.
That is why I placed “Bossons type” in my listing, as I was not sure. There is
a stamp on the back of each. Any idea what it says??? Anyway, my idea was NOT
to mislead anyone. It is just that I have no knowledge in this field, and I did
the best that I could. Feel free to get back to me. Thanks, M
I did reply to assure the seller that I realized
they were not acquainted with Bossons. I also provided her with a descriptive
analysis of quality Bossons,. and offered to send photos for further
This is only one example of
hundreds of emails and letters I have written just in the past year. We all
must do the same. You will find a small minority of responses to your emails
will be negative, and that is to be expected. However, continue to be positive and
Finally, if you are buying on eBay,
and have any doubt about the authenticity and fail to get ADVANCE advice and
assistance, I recommend very strongly that you NOT purchase the item.
Quite often, after the fact, in email from uninformed collectors, there are questions as to whether they have purchased an original
or a ‘knockoff.’ We can help you at Don's Collectibles.
Comparative Quality Analysis of Bossons
One of the most frequent examples of fakes being sold on
eBay is with the CASPIAN WOMAN with and without veil. Below you will see two fraudulent colorings of
the Caspian Woman that were up for sale on eBay.
But first, see pictures of my original
Caspian Woman followed by the two appalling examples that appeared on eBay. There are dozens of fraud examples of many different Bossons on the Internet everyday.
Caspian Woman (copyright 1958).
It came directly from Bossons in the 1980's.
As you compare, notice the sharp
detail in the blue veil; the gold and silver coins backed with magenta; and the impeccable details
in the multi- colored contrasting depth of ivory,
blues and pinks in the outer headpiece. In particular, see the beauty of
the semi-glossed face of light brown-raw sienna, and the pink, and gray colors
with highlights around the eyes, mouth and nose. With heavy shadows and sky
blue coloring, the eyes appear to be almost seductive.
Supplementary pictures of Don’s original Caspian Woman without veil showing the side view that pictures a three- dimensional multiple coloring of the Caspain Woman's shawl.
Here is the backside of this same authentic Bossons with the important
1958 incised copyright and external wire hanger. The outside wire hanger is the FIRST TYPE used BEFORE Bossons began using a ring-hook attached to an inbedded wire. Then followed the metal rod that was recessed into a small rectangular opening in the plaster.
Please make comparisons with the two following fraudulent eBay
auctions where the Caspian Woman had been illegally copied and contained unauthorized and ugly paintings:
Both of these
eBay auctions were being sold from the U.K.
These terrible examples above could be called “Miss Chocolate Caspian,” and the other “Miss Orange Caspian Woman.” I
wrote both sellers asking them to kindly close the auctions and that they were not authentic and were illegal colorings of the original Caspian Woman from Bossons (1958-59). Importantly, the backs of these figures were not shown on the auctions. Seeing the backs always helps serious collectors determine if the item is a "fake copy or an authentic Bossons.
WE solicit YOUR COOPERATION IN NOT PERPETUATING THE DISTRIBUTION OF INFERIOR QUALITY BOSSONS. Collect authentic works of art and encourage others to join
together in keeping the Bossons world free of fraudulent imposters creeping their way
into the ‘Imagical’ World of
THANK YOU. Don Hardisty, Las Cruces, NM