Measuring approximately 7.5 inches high, this highly sought after Black Vargas wax figure which is mounted on its original wooden platform, is one of a series of fascinating "street character wax dolls" conceived of and crafted by Mrs. Conception Vargas Alfonso, daughter of the world-renowned, turn-of-the-century-New Orleans, Spanish sculptor, Francisco Vargas.
From approximately 1915 through the 1930's, Mrs. Vargas-Alphonso, influenced by the artistry of her father who also sculpted in wax, crafted a variety of wax dolls inspired by the black folk she saw on New Orleans's street corners while growing up. Sold exclusively at the time through Harriet's, of 318 Rue Royale in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the completely hand-made, one-of-a-kind dolls are seldom found on today's market due to their inherently fragile nature, making them highly sought after in the Black Memorabilia Collectible arena.
This particular figure is known as the Cotton Seller.
Vargas wax figures are distinctly characterized by their interesting but highly exaggerated facial features. The Cotton Seller wears a straw-colored hat, a blue patterned bandanna around his neck, dark pants, and a red and yellow checked shirt- all constructed of actual cloth fabric that was coated with a fine layer of clear wax to stiffen them. He carries a large sack of freshly picked cotton on his back via a rope cord wrapped around his neck while balancing yet another sack of cotton at his feet. His wax body is internally supported by a wire frame through which the figure is securely attached to the wooden base. The bottom of the base is stamped "Genuine VARGAS New Orleans, LA".
This wonderful figure is in mint condition for his 75+ years of age with no apparent or visible imperfections. Amazingly, all fingers and both thumbs remain perfectly intact! (The fingers are so very, very thin and fragile that they are quite easily broken.)
The Cotton Seller is most delightful- a snapshot into 1920's New Orleans cultural history!
Please see the other Vargas figure that is currently available and priced separately--type "Vargas" in the search box to quickly locate them. A photo of the other Vargas figure currently available for purchase has been included, for the buyer's viewing convenience, in this listing.
Please note- any white or light spots noted in photos are a result of sun light glare and are not reflective or discoloration or fading.
The numbered piece of paper pinned to the bag of cotton seen in some of the photos was an inventory marker used by the original owner. It has since been removed from the figure.