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Antique German Dolls – a Little Bit of History

Antique German Dolls – a Little Bit of History

From the 1840’s through until the early 1920’s, some of the most beautiful dolls ever created, were produced in Germany.

18" SIMON & HALBIG 1329 for details

The earliest dolls, often referred to as Parian dolls (meaning untinted bisque) were created in famous pottery factories in Copenhagen and in Dresden. These dolls had beautifully delicate molded features, including not only their faces, but their hair as well, often with molded ribbons, bows, snood, flowers and sometimes a collar. Delicate exacting colorations made every one of these dolls a work of art. These dolls are rare and valuable.

Their popularity peaked around the end of the 1870’s and can be dated by their hairstyles. Parian Bisque led to the more common China Head Dolls. These dolls were mass produced, and have a shiny glaze finish over the plain untinted bisque. These dolls ranged in size from tiny 1” tall frozen charlotte type dolls to large as 24”. These dolls were most popular between 1860 and 1900, as a cheaper alternative to the latest doll craze, that of tinted unglazed bisque that was becoming more and more popular and available. In the early 1890’s the German doll manufacturers began mass producing many lovely quality dolls that began to rival the quality of the French dolls.

Dolls began to be modelled after real children. Emotions and expressions became visible. The famous period of the “dolly type” face was born.

13" ERNST HEUBACH 300 GERMAN BISQUE HEAD BABY from McMasters Harris Auction Co for details

These beautiful dolly face dolls traditionally had “sleep eyes” made to open and close, set into the head carefully with plaster. The eyes were hand blown glass. They also have open mouths, usually showing 4 upper teeth. Fine mohair wigs, or human hair wigs were also used on these dolls. The heads were attached to sophisticated ball joint bodies.

Many of these dolly face dolls were produced in small cottage industry circumstances, and the maker of many remains unknown. The more famous German Doll manufacturers such as Heinrich Handwerck, Heubach-Kopplesdorf, Kammer and Reinhard, J.D.Kestner, Armand Marseille and Simon and Halbig, clearly placed their hallmark, and doll mold numbers onto the back of the doll’s neck, making it possible to date, value and appraise many of their dolls.

One of the most famous dolls of all to come out of this period was the “Bye-Lo” baby doll. It is documented that the artist, Grace Storey Putnam searched hospital nurseries in the early 1920’s looking for just the right tiny model for this doll. The Bye-Lo baby was followed by “My Dream Baby”.

24 ½” Kestner #171 from

The value placed on Antique German Dolls, is based on their rarity, on the quality in craftsmanship of a particular doll, the condition of the doll, and by how much of the doll remains in original condition. This will include such factors as repairs to the head or body, replaced eyes or wig, and many other factors.

Antique German Dolls continue to appreciate in value. The quality and talent put into every doll made is appreciated more and more by collectors of antique dolls as the years go by.

Antique German Dolls

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