Novelty Cocktail Sticks Sets and Barware
The most collectible cocktail sticks dating from the 1930s were the creations made by Sudre. It is not clear if Sudre was the name of the creator or of the company that produced them. Many of the two-dimensional alloy figures were not actually signed and now there are fakes being made, although easily spotted if compared with the originals. Along with many other French artists’ work during this time there is no information on Sudre, due to the war and lost information.
A trio of cigarette dispensers by Sudre, some with receptacle for matches or a lighter. The picture on the right shows the signature to the sailors leg.
Some of the models are signed, usually to the back at the bottom, but they are mainly the sailor, the black bartender, the tiger tamer, boy golfer with a ball hitting him in the eye and the female papergirl. Most of the others are unsigned.
Sudre made cocktail sticks, swizzle sticks, business card holders, menu holders and cigarette boxes in the form of bartenders where you slide the top of the bar over and cigarettes would pop up.
Also popular are oyster spoon sets, glass markers, photo frames and some table lamps. These would have originally been sold by gift shops and tobacconists shops.
They are evocative of the deco era and often featured famous people of the time like, Fred Astaire, Maurice Chevalier, Josephine Baker and sports personalities like Suzanne Lendle and Rene Lacoste (Tennis stars). Others were made with a musical theme, playing instruments or dancing and many were bar themed with ladies sitting on a bar drinking or waiters and waitresses serving drinks at a bar. Some were even produced showing Ric and Rac (the naughty terriers) from the cartoon series by Pol Rab.
Some sets bear other names such as Cado, Bizette and Brette which are very similar to the Sudre items and may even be by Sudre but branded for other outlets. Unfortunately there is little information on these names either.
Josephine Baker, Fred Astaire and Maurice Chevalier
Most of the Sudre items are two dimensional and made from aluminium which is hand painted and mounted usually on a wooden base or sometimes a phenolic base. They all seem to have a comical cartoon theme and are sure to bring a smile to your face, especially the drunk in front of the judge! They are ideal for collecting as they do not take up a lot of space and are easily displayed in an art deco cabinet.
Ric and Rac (Pol Rab) Cocktail stick sets
Another common designer of this type of novelty is Benjamin Rabier (1864 – 1939). Rabier who was an illustrator, comic book artist and animator who designed chromed spelter pieces usually depicting characters from cartoons he created including Gédéon the duck, Reynard the fox and The laughing Cow among others. Pieces by Rabier tend to be of slightly nicer quality and sometimes feature as fable characters like the cheese eating crow and the fox, but generally in common with the pieces by Sudre they both tend to be mainly receptacles for the eating of seafood and olives or cocktail sticks or swizzle sticks.
Rabier cocktail and snail sticks sets featuring Reynard the fox and Gedeon the duck
In late 2019 I wrote an article for VE (Vintage Explorer) magazine (issue 49) about Sudre cocktail sticks sets when I had probably the largest collection on the internet and I am still buying nice and unusual specimens today.
Below you can see some of the more unusual and rarer pieces from my current stock, including an airline pilot and the drunk in court.
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