Charlot Byj started out by creating her famous redheaded children and others as greeting cards. This brought her to the attention of Franz Goebel of the Goebel Company in the mid 1940s. At Goebel they turned her artwork into three dimensional figurines just as they had done with the Hummel figurines. Today, they are sought after by collectors around the world.
After Charlot graduated from art school, one day she sought shelter from the rain in a greeting card store. She admired their greeting card line, made note of the publisher’s name and called for an appointment for a job interview. She was hired and began designing illustrations for cards, books and advertising posters. All her artwork was with children. It was while she was working at the card shop that she created her now famous characters; some of which were “Shabby O’Hair,” his little sister, “Raggy Muffin,” Shabby’s plump mother, “M’Lady O’Hair” and many others.
Franz Goebel, head of W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik, noticed her artwork on the greeting cards and soon she was invited to visit the production facility. Her first figurine, “Strike,” was modeled by the master sculptor Arthur Moeller and the mold date on the bottom of that figurine is 1957. More than 100 different figurines were designed, molded, and produced before the series ceased in 1988. Gerhard Skrobek worked with her on 64 different figurines and they made a great team. Charlot was a perfectionist. She would not agree to a change simply for cost sake. Together they produced a wonderful series. She was under exclusive contract to Goebel until 1980 until she got sick and was forced to cut back on her designing.
Working with Miss Byj, Goebel master sculptors Arthur Moeller and Gerhard Skrobek made the initial four Redhead figurines “Strike,” “The Roving Eye,” “Oops,” and “Little Miss Coy.”
Most of her artwork features children and motherhood in two styles. One style was the very popular “Redheads” as the Goebel Charlot Byj Redheads became known. The other style was the blonde series of about 16 different figurines. The redheads were designed as bouncy characters and full of life and mischief, however, the blondes were designed to be more serene and gentle in their young approach to life. There were also a few figurines that were painted as children with brown hair.
As previously mentioned, Charlot’s little characters were produced by the Goebel Company from 1957 until 1988 in many different forms. The most popular were the figurines, but they also came out as annual baby ornaments, annual Christmas ornaments, annual plate series, art prints and three different music boxes which used the figurines as the center pieces. There were also three different lamps, only one of which was placed in Goebel production. Last, but not least in importance, they produced the dolls in a variety of different sizes. The doll series production continues today with Goebel doll designer Karen Kennedy.
Charlot lived in New York City and was a caring and sincere person. Her nature is encapsulated in the following recollection by Joan N. Ostroff which is entitled “In Memoriam.”