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Antique Dolls

Antique Doll
Bru Antique Doll

In a recent auction one of the most valuable antique dolls sold for $100.00. What made this doll so special was it's blue eyes that seem to follow as you moved about the room. This doll was manufactured by the Leon Casimer Bru family in France about 1860. Bru dolls were built during the golden age of dollmaking. Today demand thousands of dollars with the top prices paid for antique Bru dolls made between 1860 and 1900. The doll heads were made of unglazed porcelain or bisque.

Other golden age French doll makers included Pierre Franqois Jumeau. Popular German doll makers were the Kestner family and Armand Marseille who competed with the French.

Competing with German doll makers proved to much for the French. So they ceased production and formed the "French Society for the Manufacture of Dolls and Toys". These dolls and toys are sought after today by collectors in spite of the S.F.B.J. products were at the time considered of inferior quality.

Dolls can be made any material know to man. Material used to make the head such as Bisque (Unglazed porcelain baby doll heads tinted or painted) dolls and China dolls (Glazed porcelain heads) are the most valuable. Early Bisque dolls (before 1870) had closed mouths and later Bisque dolls had open mouths. Closed mouth Bisque dolls are more collectable today. Early China dolls had oval shaped faces and black hair. The price of China dolls vary greatly. Generally the older the China doll the more expensive.

Another type of antique doll popular at the time was poured wax dolls. Poured wax dolls required painstaking handwork. Wax was poured into a mold, the head smoothed and then finished all by hand. Eyes were made of glass and real hair was pressed into the scalp with a heated tool. Pierrotti and Montanari were families in England that used the early poured wax technique.

Produced in the early 1800s and somewhat cruder than china, bisque and poured wax dolls were those made of wood with painted on faces. Called peg woodens because of their movable peg and socket joints. Most were made in Germany. Wooden dolls were made in the United States by Ludwig Greiner, a German immigrant. Greiner also made paper mache dolls.

Izannah Walker of Central Falls, Rhode Island is called America's first professional dollmaker. She started her dollmaking business in 1863 and produced a doll by forming faces out of cloth and painting them with oils. Other commercially made in America dolls are those made in Springfield, Vermont. They were the Co-Operative Manufacturing Company (Joel Ellis), D. M. Smith & Company, H. H. Mason and the jointed Doll Co. These early American companies produced a lathe turned wooden dolls known as Springfield Dolls. Today's doll collectors enjoy the work of A. Schoenhut & Co. of Philadelphia for their maneuverability. Schoenhut dolls were produced from 1911 to 1925. The best known of all early American dolls may well be the Kewpies made by Rose O'Neil in 1913.

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