|A Short History of
Whilst the majority of doll
collectors concentrate on seeking out bisque headed
dolls, wooden, papier mache and wax dolls are also
interesting and desirable..
In the mid
Nineteenth Century fine papier mache dolls were
produced with leather bodies and carved wooden lower
limbs. Also, the Grodnertal region in Germany produced
simply made carved wooden dolls. These are attractive
with the carved “comb” in their hair. Produced in
a variety of sizes, from large down to tiny
Grodnertals which are ideal for dolls houses. Until
recently Grodnertals were inexpensive, but they are
now highly desirable and their price has
Wax was another
medium used in English doll production by such
manufacturers as Pierotti, Montenari and Meech.
Lifelike poured wax dolls were produced with glass
eyes and hair inserted a few hairs at a time into the
scalps of the dolls to give a natural look. Many were
dressed in baby robes, others in fine costumes as worn
by the ladies of the time. These had a shoulderhead
construction, a hair stuffed body and poured wax
limbs. Cheaper wax dolls - “wax over composition”
- were also made by dipping a head in wax. Over time
expansion and contraction occurs and these heads
become crazed - but many collectors love their aged
and worn look.
dolls of shoulderhead and stuffed body construction,
were also produced in this period. Many have simple
white glazed china and black painted heads, others
have elaborately moulded and painted hairstyles. Most
are of small dolls house size but very large sizes can
UK collectors of
cloth dolls tend to favour 20th Century English
producers Chad Valley, Deans Rag Book, Farnell and
Nora Wellings. Lenci of Italy and Kathe Kruse of
Germany also being popular. Some wonderful cloth dolls
were also produced in the U.S. by Martha Jenks Chase
and Izannah Walker with numerous other naïve dolls
being produced by other innovative
majority of collectors whilst perhaps wanting the odd
example of dolls such as those mentioned above,
concentrate their collections on French and German
bisque headed dolls. The variety is diverse and
From the mid
1800s until near the turn of the twentieth century,
the finest and most desirable dolls were produced in
France. In the 1870s some wonderful Parisiennes or
Fashion dolls were produced usually with bisque heads,
kid bodies and fine clothes. Bodies were produced with
a variety of articulations. Fine fashion dolls were
also produced by companies such as Francois Gaultier,
Jumeau, Barrois, Huret, Rohmer, and Bru.
From the late
1870s into the 1890s many fine French Bebé dolls were
made. The Portrait Jumeau is a good example from the
late 1870s. Now the bodies were beginning to be made
of papier mache with ball joints. Beautiful
paperweight eyes were used having a depth not seen
before. This company was also famous for the Long
Faced Jumeau, the EJ and the popular Tete Jumeau. All
had closed mouths. Later in the 19th Century the Tete
Jumeau was also produced with an open mouth and
Leon Casimir Bru
was another famous French producer. The company began
in the 1860s and at first produced Parisiennes.
Perhaps the most wonderful Bru dolls came with the
design of the Bru Bebé with kid body, bisque limbs
and fine bisque head. The Brevete, Circle and Dot, Bru
Jne, Bebe Gourmand and Bebé Teteur (the Gourmand and
Teteur being very interesting additions to a
collection as they were designed to be fed by their
lucky young owners!) are models to look for.
Gaultier produced heads for many other companies, and
as they have a certain look can easily be attributed.
Many superb Fashion dolls have FG heads. Some lovely Bebés
on jointed bodies were also produced by Gaultier, with
distinctive faces and large eyes.
were also produced by Schmitt et Fils. Being fine and
rare, these understandably command high prices.
Steiner was perhaps the most innovative of the French
manufacturers holding many patents for his inventions
of mechanical movements to his dolls. The dolls faces
and the hands are very distinctive. Numerous designs
are to found, the most popular are the Steiner A and
the beautiful Steiner C Bebés.
French were the leaders in doll production in the mid
to late 1800s, their demise came quickly. The German
manufacturers by the 1890s were prolific producers. At
the end of the 19th Century, the French doll business
was in trouble because of the Germans cheap mass
production. Some major French companies including Bru,
Jumeau and Gaultier joined together as the SFBJ and
whilst they produced a wide variety of dolls until the
1930s, the quality was not equal to their early French
Dolls. One desirable SFBJ series however was their
characters, made just before WWI.
company of Simon & Halbig began in the late 1860s.
Their variety and quality was excellent. They also
produced heads for other companies e.g. Kammer &
Reinhardt. Additionally, Simon and Halbig made the
heads for such companies as Louis Lindner & Sohne
(some unusual doll faces exist made specifically for
this company), Franz Schmidt & Co and Heinrich
Handwerck. Early Simon & Halbig dolls had
shoulderplates and kid bodies, but most are on
composition, jointed bodies.
producing dolls in the early Nineteenth Century.
However, perhaps their best production came from the
1880/90s when lovely bisque headed dolls on
composition, jointed bodies were produced. Kestner
also produced some very fine all bisque dolls.
The majority of
dolls found today were produced by Armand Marseille.
Some are ordinary, many of good quality. He was a
prolific producer from the 1890s through to the 1930s.
The most common Armand Marseille moulds to be found
are the 390, a bisque head on a jointed body, and the
Dream Baby - which was produced in mould number 341
with a closed mouth and 351 with an open mouth.
hundreds of German doll manufacturers. Amongst those
of note are Gebruder Heubach who was a producer from
the mid 1900s until 1938 of a huge range of good
character dolls many with intaglio eyes (where the
eyes are carved into and form part of the bisque
heads). Ernst Heubach, (about 1890 until 1930s) of
Kopplesdorf. This company had a family connection with
the large Armand Marseille company with whom they
merged in 1919, only to split away again in the early
1930s. Cuno & Otto Dressel was a producer of toys
for over two hundred years. Whilst they produced some
original items, others heads were bought in from
various companies. Many types of doll were produced by
Dressel in bisque, composition, china and also wax.
Catterfelder Puppenfabrik (1890s to 1930s) produced
quality character dolls with most of their heads being
made by Kestner. Bahr & Proeschild manufactured
from 1870s until 1919 when they were purchased by
Bruno Schmidt who continued manufacturing until the
1930s. Dolls were made of bisque, china and celluloid
and are fine quality. Schnoeau & Hoffmeister were
later producers from 1900 until the 1950s. Founded by
Arthur Schoenau and Carl Hoffmeister their association
was short and disagreements led to the dissolution of
their partnership in 1907. The company produced many
cheaper and less interesting dolls, but also some good
dolls including one modelled on Princess Elizabeth
which was dressed in the same outfit as the photo of
her as a child in the 1930s.