Examples of Roman Terracotta Sigilla (Clay Figurines)


Modern French Holiday Figurines
"King Cake" Figurines Given on Epiphany (January 6)

Compare in Concept, Form and Function with Roman Sigilla Saturnalia Gifts

     These are actual French Feves  ( Three King’s Cake Charms or Prizes).  Made from porcelain and hand painted,  they are  amazingly strong - designed to be baked into a cake!  Wonderful detail for something so small. Design is on all sides!

     Feves  (French for “bean” from the Latin word for bean, faba ) are tiny figurines that are made to be put inside a "King's Cake" for the "Epiphany" Holiday, which is celebrated every year on January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas. Tradition states that this is the day that the three wise men or "Three Kings" came to Bethlehem, to honor the birth of Christ.  Traditionally it was a fava bean that was placed inside the cake. Whoever  found the feve in his or her slice of cake, was king for the day.  Since it was good luck to get the feve in your cake - these little items were saved and treasured.

    In the 1870s the bean was replaced with small porcelain figurines; good luck charms, religious figures, saints etc, and a collecting craze was begun! The oldest feves were porcelain. As the years sped by, designs became more elaborate; different glazes were used, they were hand painted or gilded. Following WWI, due to supply shortages, plastic feves were made. Today,  this tradition of Feve production and collecting has been completely commercialized, and there is a vast assortment of porcelain, plastic and metal figures that are made. A lot of the newest feves are sold in series – more for collecting than for actually placing in cakes. Designs include everything from Harry Potter and Disney to the high fashion shoes and purses. Collecting  Feves is very popular in France. The series are generally only produced for a single year.