A classic vintage trumpeting elephant by Walter Bosse for Herta Baller from the 1950s "Black Gold Line" of brass figures

WALTER BOSSE was born November 13, 1904, in Vienna, to the artists Luise and Julius Bosse. His father worked as a portrait painter at the imperial court.

Walter Bosse attended the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule, now the University of Applied Arts Vienna, from 1918 to 1921, where he studied ceramics under Michael Powolny, and ornament under Franz Cižek.  He then attended the Munich School of Applied Arts (Münchner Kunstgewerbeschule).  During his schooling he was given the opportunity to sell his work at the Wiener Werkstätte by Josef Hoffmann, who became a mentor to Bosse. Bosse opened his own shop in Kufstein in 1923.

Bosse's work grew in popularity and a number of his pieces were shown at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in 1925. He started designing for Augarten Porcelain Works (1924), as well as Goldscheider (1926) and Metzler and Ortloff (1927). In 1931, to meet increasing demand (especially in America), Bosse opened up a bigger shop in Kufstein, but by 1933 he started to feel the effects of the economic depression. By 1937, the Kufstein works were closed.

In 1938, now divorced, Bosse moved back to Vienna, where he founded Bosse Ceramics (Bosse-Keramik), which expanded under the new name “Terra” to include glass, toys, textiles. and a variety of craft items for the gift market. In the late 1940s, Bosse began experimenting with brass by giving his ceramic figures a metal coating to protect them from breakage.

He formed a partnership with Herta Baller, whose company (the Herta Baller Company) manufactured and marketed the brass figurines, this collaboration was called the Bosse/Baller company.  In the early 1950s, Bosse and Baller began exploring a new style of brass called the “Black Gold Line” or "Black Golden Line" of brass figurines.  He transitioned all of his efforts to brass and the figures became popular worldwide.  Despite Bosse's success with his brass figures, it was still a difficult time for him financially. In 1953, partly fleeing from financial troubles, he moved to Iserlohn, Germany where he set up a new shop and continued production. In Vienna, the Herta Baller Company continued to make and sell Bosse's designs.  Bosse also collaborated with Karlsruhe State Majolika Works on a number of pottery animal figures.

In 1958, he designed for Achait Schirmer in Cologne.  Bosse also turned his efforts to small, everyday items such as letter openers, keyrings, corkscrews, and pencil holders, all of which bear the distinctive "black and gold" look.

A number of Bosse's designs began to gain widespread popularity internationally, particularly his brass hedgehog ashtrays and hand-shaped bowls. But the designs' success led to forgeries popping up worldwide. His hedgehog ashtrays were reproduced by many forgers in various countries and with varying degrees of precision.  To protect his designs, he engaged in court battles which would last the rest of his life and deplete most of his money.  Because of these cases, he is considered to be a seminal figure relating to modern copyright law for designer goods.

The last years of Bosse's life saw him devoting much of his time and money to his legal disputes and on December 17, 1979, Bosse died with no money to his name in Iserlohn, Germany. His oeuvre consists of about 8,000 models and designs, of which about 3,000 are ceramic

Designer Walter Bosse
Manufacturer Herta Baller
Design Period 1950 to 1959
Production Period Unknown
Country of Manufacture Austria
Identifying Marks This piece has been attributed based on archival documentation, such as vintage catalogs, designer records, or other literature sources
Style Vintage, Mid-Century, Minimalist
Detailed Condition Excellent — This vintage piece is in near original condition. It may show minimal traces of use and/or have slight restorations.
Product Code
Materials Brass
Color Black, gold
Width 2.3 inch
Depth 1.0 inch
Height 1.8 inch
Quantity Available – 0