Connoisseur created a special collection of non-limited edition bird sculptures, called Fledglings of North America, exclusively for the Neiman-Marcus stores in the USA. All were designed by Christopher Ashenden and all have a special backstamp identifying them as part of this collection. The total number of different designs (fledglings) in this series is currently being researched; for quite some time I was under the impression that there were six, but it appears that there were seven.
The backstamp is important because Connoisseur also created other fledgling sculptures that were not part of the Neiman-Marcus series, and some of these have similar names (such as the Fledgling Robin and Fledgling Sparrow). However, those sculptures are entirely different and are shown in the Birds overviews. The subtle difference in the actual sculpture names points this out: the “Fledgling Robin” versus the Fledglings of North America “Robin”, for example.
The Neiman-Marcus exclusives were also sold in boxes specially printed with both the Connoisseur and store name logos. It’s unusual to find a surviving Connoisseur of Malvern store-exclusive box. The boxes are 8″x7″x 4″ high and were specially designed for this series: Rather than having a lid, the inner box slides out to reveal the bird securely wrapped in thick, soft egg-crate style foam. Quite ingenious, actually!
The Neiman-Marcus fledglings so far discovered are the Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Chickadee, Blue Jay, Mockingbird, Robin and Sparrow.
Three of the birds (l-r: Robin, Chickadee, and Blue Jay) appeared in one of the 1984 “N-M by Post” catalogs. The caption reads
Decorated and detailed by hand, expertly sculptured bone porcelain fledglings imported from England. The trio of North American bird sculptures (not shown actual size) are part of a Neiman-Marcus exclusive series designed by Chris Ashenden for Connoisseur of Malvern.
and gives the current retail price as $165 each. The reference to these three being part of a series suggests that either all of them were released concurrently, or perhaps these three were a second group. It’s possible that 1984 was the introduction date for all of them.
The Cardinal is, like the others in the series, approximately 5″ (12.7 cm) high. An unusual aspect of this series is that the backstamp also included a design number; the Cardinal fledgling’s is 033. This is not an individual sculpture number, because this was an open (nonlimited, un-numbered) series.
Tufted Titmouse, about 5” (12.7 cm) high; design number 037.
Chickadee, 4.5” (11.3 cm) high, with design number 036.
Blue Jay, 4.75” (12 cm) high; design number 032.
The color of the Blue Jay may vary somewhat according to the lighting; some do appear to be this brighter, almost turquoise, blue.
Mockingbird, about 5” (12.7 cm) high. Its design number is 034.
An unfortunately tiny additional photo of the Robin which is also shown in the Neiman-Marcus advertisement above. Although at first glance the spotted throat may make it appear to be the Mockingbird fledgling, this is a different piece.
At the moment I do not have a photo of the Sparrow, but hope to locate one.
Because I have no photos of the backstamp of either the Robin or the Sparrow, Ido not know their design numbers. If any reader has a photo of the Sparrow, or any other Neiman-Marcus series fledglings not mentioned here, a photo would be very much appreciated. 🙂 There is a direct-contact form on the About the Archive page.
Although not part of the same series, the limited edition Chickadee Family shown in Birds, Part One was also created for Neiman Marcus – possibly at the same time as the release of the Fledglings of North America series.
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