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GERMAN PORCELAIN & BISQUE DOLLS


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halbig german antique porcelain doll
GERMAN DOLLS, along with antique French Dolls, are regarded by collectors as the most desirable. German porcelain dolls in particular, are known for their high quality and durability. They also usually fetch high prices at antiques auctions and most are clearly marked with makers marks for identifying and determining their age. For help on that, please see our Antiques Price Guides and Porcelain & Pottery Marks Guides.

Most early German Dolls were made in Bisque, i.e. fired only once and had no glaze. The vast majority of these were manufactured ca mid-to-late 19thC, from 1840 to 1880s. After that time, and although Bisque Dolls were still being produced at an appreciable level, most porcelain dolls were glazed and had a smoother surface. These dolls are specifically referred to as China Dolls by serious collectors, but this term is sometimes used generically for all Porcelain Dolls in general. The peak of production for porcelain dolls in Germany occurred in the period between 1890s to 1930s.

Originally, the majority of Bisque Dolls made prior to 1840s were likenesses of adults, not necessarily meant to be used as toys and were rather large in size. This gradually changed and now most antique German Porcelain Dolls that have survived since the mid-19thC onwards are child-like or babies and very rarely measure more than 17 inches in height. However, the general style of German dolls remained basically the same. Notable exceptions are some facial features, such as the lips contours, shape or puffiness of cheeks, open or closed mouth, the appearance of frontal teeth etc. However, the most significant changes occurred in the materials of which they were made. For example, glass eyes replaced painted eyes on dolls heads and the bisque (and later glazed porcelain or china) parts were enhanced and became more durable for everyday playful use. Industrial methods and consistent quality control also improved significantly, which aided in further market penetration due to lower and more affordable pricing. Additionally, some companies begun to specialize in making only specific parts of these dolls, such as producing Porcelain Doll Heads only, while the body was subcontracted to others. Several mergers also strengthened these alliances, as for example the union of
Armand Marseille
with Ernst Heubach, which although did not last long, provided for an influx of high quality porcelain dolls ca early to mid 20thC, most of which still survive to this day as grandma's dolls or for some of the oldest amongst us, our very own strong reminders of a precious childhood.

The vast popularity of Porcelain Dolls world-wide also prompted interesting rivalries and competition. A characteristic instance of this rivalry was the introduction of Fashion Dolls in France, which were meant to be in direct contrast to the now mostly mass-produced German dolls. These Fashion Dolls are particularly pretty, partly because in addition to their usually more feminine or baby-like facial features, their bodies were also made in fairly accurate human proportions and were adorned with the cutest and most detailed dresses & dolls clothing. Most often, this clothing was interchangeable, which sparked an even larger market for Dolls Clothing & Accessories or little-tiny Doll Uniforms, snapped by any child whose family could afford them. Jumeau Dolls are amongst the most famous makers of Fashion Dolls in France and according to some historians, it is said that their Paris factory was set up as a deliberate attempt to compete with German Porcelain Dolls, especially those manufactured in the ever increasing "German industrial complex" in the region of Saxony.

Needless to say, as porcelain dolls became more and more affordable and demand surged to new heights with the emergence of the Middle Class in the US & Europe after WWII, new entrants in doll manufacturing, especially from Japan, eventually replaced most German (or French) makers in the market, many of whom soon closed. Because of this shift in the supply of dolls, along with the introduction of dolls made of totally different materials (plastic, celluloid etc), antique German Porcelain Dolls nowadays remain high in the minds of avid doll collectors and are almost always the most sought after at auction or antiques fairs.


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  • LOT OF THREE GERMAN DOLLS. 24” AM 390;
    24” Gans Seyfarth doll; 19” Heinrich Handwerck Simon & Halbig. CONDITION: AM 390 has head repaired and body repairs and damage; GNS doll has firing line in back of head ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF TWO GERMAN DOLLS. The first is a 12”
    A.M. Floradora with blue glass sleep eyes and a fully jointed composition body. The second is a 16” A.M. 390 blue glass sleep-eyes on a fully jointed composition body (repainted). ... [more like this]
  • German dolls (lot of 3) German Peter Scherf
    bisque socket head doll having a hand-painted face set with blue sleep eyes and an open mouth with upper teeth on a kid body with bisque arms (some losses), in original period ... [more like this]
  • Bisque, German. Pair of dolls-16" AM 390
    and 19" SIMON&HALBIG 1078. 16" Made in Germany 390. A.1.M. Kiln/firing imperfections. No other flaws observed. Brown sleep eyes, open mouth, original curly blonde mohair wig. ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF SIX GERMAN BISQUE HEAD DOLLS. 1) 31”
    (79 cm), head incised, “ARMAND MARSEILLES GERMANY 390 A. 15 M.” Lacking eyes, missing two teeth, hairline crack in back of head. Dressed and wearing brown human hair wig. ... [more like this]
  • a/ SIMON & HALBIG 719 DOLL & FOUR GERMAN
    HEADS The doll is an S&H 719 open mouth with blue sleep eyes on a straight waist composition and wood body along with a JDK 221 baby head AM 370 shoulderhead AM 390 head and ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 4: German Bisque Dolls. Description
    Ca. 1900. Bisque socket head Heinrich Handwerck (completely restored), very good signed Handwerck jointed body, lovely clothes, vintage shoes. Bisque socket head A.M. 390,sleeping ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 4: German Bisque Dolls. Description
    Ca. 1900. Bisque socket head Heinrich Handwerck (completely restored), very good signed Handwerck jointed body, lovely clothes, vintage shoes. Bisque socket head A.M. 390,sleeping ... [more like this]
  • ARMAND MARSEILLES GERMAN BISQUE HEAD DOLL,
    20 in., #390. Bisque socket head, red hair wig, blue sleep eyes, painted features, open mouth, 4 teeth, wood body, marked 390, A-2-M on back of head. ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF 2 GERMAN BISQUE HEAD DOLLS. 1) 23”
    (58 cm), head incised 283/28.5 Max Handwerck Germany 2 1/3” with blue glass sleep eyes, open mouth with 4 upper teeth on original body with original finish. Doll has been ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 3: German Bisque Girls. Description
    Germany, Ca. 1900. One doll is marked "Heinrich Handwerck", Simon & Halbig, repaired head, new glass eyes, replaced wig, new French-style composition body, vintage taffeta ... [more like this]
  • Grouping of Bisque headed dolls Simon &
    Halbig (Kammer & Reinhardt) 28" German doll accompanied with an A & M #390 23" doll, overall good condition. ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF TWO GERMAN BISQUE HEAD CHILD DOLLS.
    1) Kammer and Reinhardt child doll. 22” (56 cm), head incised, “K*R SIMON & HALBIG 403 GERMANY 58”. Having blue glass sleepy eyes, painted upper and lower lashes, open ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF 4 GERMAN BISQUE HEAD DOLLS. 1) 14”
    (36 cm), closed mouth, glass eyed shoulder head doll with solid dome. On all leather body with perfect bisque forearms, wearing original ivory silk bridal gown and brown mohair ... [more like this]
  • Lot of two German bisque head miniature child
    dolls including 9 1/2" Armand Marseille 390 with weighted eyes, open mouth with teeth, 5pc. composition body with painted tan shoes and socks, Cracks in composition around ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 2: German Bisque Girls. Description
    Germany, Ca. 1900. 25-inch doll marked "A.W. Special", made by Adolf Wislizenus. Sleeping eyes with real eyelashes, vintage mohair wig, jointed composition body, one hand ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 5: German Bisque Dolls. Description
    Germany, Ca. 1900. Bisque shoulder head Kestner doll, sleeping eyes, original mohair wig, kid body with bisque lower arms, original dress, vintage undies. Bisque shoulder ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 2: German Bisque Dolls. Description
    German, Ca. 1900. Bisque socket head incised "Heinrich Handwerck" (repaired in back), set glass eyes, replaced wig, open mouth, jointed composition body (repainted), vintage ... [more like this]
  • Lot of 2 German Bisque Child Dolls. German
    bisque socket heads with sleeping eyes, open mouths, and mohair wigs on 5-piece composition bodies with molded shoes and socks. One marked “Simon & Halbig K [star] R” ... [more like this]
  • LOT OF TWO GERMAN BISQUE CHILD DOLLS. 1)
    23” (59 cm), head incised, “MADE IN GERMANY ARMAND MARSEILLES 390 n”. Having brown glass sleep eyes, open mouth w/four teeth and on original body and body finish. Dressed ... [more like this]

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