Friday, May 23, 2008

Brass Monkeys

Since my preliminary post was about the importance of good booth reps, I'd like to dedicate this year's ICFF posts to the company with the best representative of all of them.  It was in Austria's booth, and the company is Lichterloh.  It would appear they specialize in antique furniture, originals of design masterpieces and somewhat oddly, antique gym supplies like medicine balls: 

First of all, I walked up and started looking more closely at a couple cute things on this sideboard, where these two reps were talking.  The guy interrupts their conversation to say, "do you need any help?"  I said "no, thank you, just looking."  But they ended their conversation anyway, and the woman went to another part of the booth so the guy could assist me more freely.  Brilliant.  His English was a little bit broken, to the point I had to kind of pay close attention to understand him at times, but his enthusiasm and friendliness were so great that I'd have taken this conversation over a hundred others with reps with bad attitudes and perfect English.

He started telling me about these little animals on the sideboard, and I'm so happy that he did, because it's such a great story.

Evidently almost anyone who grew up in Austria knows about Walter Bosse.  His little figurines were everywhere, and heads of state would even take one of them along when visiting other countries to offer them as gifts to foreign dignitaries and whoever.  

Bosse created thousands of different animals, but for years and years the molds for them were lost, and I suppose thought to be lost forever.  Recently thousands of molds for his figurines were found in a collection rescued from an old factory/ warehouse somewhere.  The owner of them approached Lichterloh, Lichterloh bought them up, and they're now selling reproductions of them.

And oh, BOY are they ever CUTE!  They're really tiny, like a little over an inch high, each.  I'm going to show you a bunch, because I adore them.  Cat:

The Chamois is the animal that sort of symbolizes this one particular region of Austria (I think he said Kitzbr├╝hel, but I can't remember).  And Bosse's Chamois is famous there:

They're also doing a line of them with patinated brass, these were the ones we were looking at mostly:

They had one made into a keychain in the display, but he said they're working on doing more of them as keychains. I think they're just perfect for that.  Things like corkscrews and so on, too, he said.

But the most incredibly awesome part of the whole thing was when we got to the end of the conversation, and he tells me to choose one for myself.  I was so incredulous I actually thought I
must have misunderstood what he meant.  I'm like "you...mean...I can have one of them???"  He's like "yes!"  So I chose this little cat:


I love it.

Lichterloh KunsthandelsgesmbH
(Austria) 431-586-0520

©2008, Ryan Witte

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