UNCOVERING ANTIQUE DOLE FACTS
OPEN-MOUTH KESTNER CHILD
Q Enclosed is a photo of my 27– inch bisque socket head Kestner child and a scan of her body. She is marked only with the number “16” on the back of her head and on her plaster pate. She has a long, pouty face with outlined open lips and blue, sleeping eyes. She also has a wonderful, puzzled look that I haven’t seen on other dolls. I think it is because her brows are raised a bit in the center. I have not been able to find “16” in any books, but my doll is similar to the one pictured in your book Kestner King of Dollmakers on page 92 in the 171 series. Is she possibly an undocumented Kestner? I also am interested in an estimated date of manufacture and value.
A Your antique doll is indeed a beautiful example from the J.D. Kestner doll factory in Waltershausen, Germany. The early Kestner dolls, even those with open mouths, do not have mold numbers, only size numbers. These dolls predate the familiar Kestner alphabet/ number size system (A 5, B 6, C 7, etc.) and have only a number for the size. The number “16” on your doll is a size number, not a mold number. Your doll is from the series shown on page 111 of my Kestner book. The doll in Illustration 222, a size 14 at 22 inches, is a smaller example of your doll. Although the tooth treatment is a little different and the eyebrows on yours may be fuller, these are simply variations that occur when dolls are handmade and hand-painted. This doll and yours date from about 1890, and may be as early as 1888, the date that Kestner first advertised open– mouth dolls. Another factor indicating that your doll may be from the earlier date is the chunky body with large ball joints and chubby thighs. This is an early-style body usually found only on the closed-mouth Kestner dolls. As for the 171 series shown on page 92, this is a later doll from about 1910, so it is not like yours. As for value, if your doll’s head is perfect with no cracks, chips or repairs, I would place your doll at $1,200-1,500, more if she had a lovely old mohair wig and vintage clothes. From the limited view in the photo, her wig does not appear to be original, but looks more like a 1930s wig.
S&H 1160 BISQUE HEADS
Q I recently purchased four doll heads with what appears to be their original wigs. They are 2 inches high, with glass eyes. They are marked “2/0” on the front and “S&H 1160” on the back. I would like to know what type of body would be correct for them. Also, what is their value?
A These heads were made by the famous Simon & Halbig porcelain factory in Germany. Although this mold was registered in 1894, the heads alone were being offered for sale as late as about 1930. An example on an original body is shown in my book Simon & Halbig Dolls, on page 84. The body is cloth with a shaped waist, stitch jointed legs, bisque lower arms and bisque lower legs with molded and painted white stockings, garters and black-heeled boots with three straps. Most examples of the 1160 mold are quite small, but sizes up to 14 inches are known. The larger sizes have pierced ears. It’s wonderful that your dolls have the original rococo mohair wigs, as they really add an attractive quality to the dolls. Small heads alone sell for about $125 if they are perfect with no cracks, chips or repairs. Complete dolls with original wigs and bodies, as well as vintage clothing, sell from $350 up to $750, depending upon the size. Collectors refer to this mold as “Little Women,” but that is not an historically accurate name.
S&H LADY DOLL
Q This 20-inch doll is marked “S 7 H” on the front of her shoulder plate. She has a cloth body with leather arms and hands that have separated fingers. Her fine and pale bisque head features closed mouth, blue set glass eyes and pierced ears with earrings. Her clothes look original, though they show some wear in spots where the fabric is weak and shredding. Would she be a German fashion doll? What would her value be?
A Your doll’s head is from Germany’s Simon & Halbig porcelain factory, which had a reputation for manufacturing excellent-quality products. S&H made only porcelain heads and other porcelain parts that were sold to doll factories that made the complete dolls. Your lovely doll is an example of a lady of the 1870s. Yes, collectors do refer to these ladies as German fashion dolls. They were economy versions of the more-expensive French lady dolls. It is interesting to note that these early heads are marked on the front of the shoulder plate. Sometimes, collectors forget to look on the front when searching for a mark because they are so used to looking on the back. That’s why many of these early S&H dolls go unidentified. Also, in the 1870s, Simon & Halbig produced shoulder heads with beautifully molded hair in elaborate styles that are very rarely found today. If her head were perfect with no cracks, chips or repairs, I would value her at about $1,500.
Q Enclosed are photos of two 55– inches-tall dolls in original boxes. They are both all-bisque with jointed arms, legs and necks. The box is labeled “1/2 doz 1056/no Gekleidete Puppen Made in Germany.” The heads are marked “13a.” Both have set glass eyes. The only information I’ve found is in the Colemans’ The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls. This identifies them as made by Ernst Winkler, 1910-1911. However, I have not been able to locate any price information at all. If you can give an idea of value, I’d appreciate it.
A How fortunate you are to have a matching pair of boxed dolls! First, I would like to point out that your dolls are not all bisque. They have bisque heads with composition or papier-mache bodies. From your research, you have discovered one possibility as to the manufacturer of your dolls. Winkler advertised in 1906 that one of his specialties was “dressed miniature dolls, 22 cm [about 8 1/2inches], at all prices and of every genre, specially suited for wholesale and export.” The Ciesliks’ German Doll Encyclopedia shows Winkler’s mark on the back of the doll’s head as a “VU” They also show Winkler’s trademark as Gekleidete Puppen accompanied by a 6– pointed star with “W” or “EW” within a circle inside a star. Gekleidete Puppen simply means “dressed dolls,” and although Winkler used that as part of his trademark, other manufacturers certainly used the term on their boxes also. I’m delineating all of this because I’m not sure that Winkler actually manufactured your dolls, considering the size of the dolls and the lack of the “W” on the back of the head or the trademark “W” inside the star on the box.
I think it’s more likely that they were made by the factory of Georg Bruchlos, which also specialized in dressed dolls. There is a 1927 Bruchlos advertisement for 5Y2-inch dressed dolls on page 193 of the Colemans’ Encyclopedia, Volume II. These sold for 10 cents each. Imagine that! The Bruchlos dolls that I have seen are incised “13a” on the backs of their heads, as are yours. The bisque heads came with either painted or glass eyes and short, rolled curl mohair wigs, and short, rolled curl mohair wigs, usually blonde. The bodies were of mediocre-quality papier-mache. These dolls were available as boys or girls in a wide variety of costumes, dresses, suits and uniforms. Fabrics were cotton, gauze and flannel with lace, ribbon and button trim. All had appropriate hats. Some all– bisque dolls have been found with the “13 a” heads and torso and limbs marked just “13.” As for value, I would place them at $200-225 each if their heads were perfect with no cracks, chips or repairs.
Copyright Cowles Enthusiast Media May 2001
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