Antique German dolls
German dolls became popular from the 1840s until the early 1920’s because of their striking features and topnotch craftsmanship. It was in the famous pottery factories of Copenhagen and Dresden that the earliest German dolls were created. These dolls have striking and delicately shaped features. All dolls made from these factories are considered extraordinary, even worthy of being called works of art.
Brands synonymous with exquisite German dolls include Heinrich Handwerck, Armand Marseille J.D. Kestner, and Simon and Halbig and Heuback-Kopplesdorf, Kammer and Reinhard.
Types of German antique dolls
During the 1890s, quality dolls were produced in great quantities. It was in that period where dolls resembled the features of real children. These dolls called the “dolly type” displayed emotions through realistic facial expressions. The doll’s eyes made of hand blown glass were made to open and close. Mouths also open showing four upper teeth while real human hair wigs or fine mohair wigs were used to make the dolls more humanlike.
Dolls with closed lips though are harder to find and are thus considered more expensive and valuable.
One of the more popular dolls was called the “Bye-Lo” baby doll. Grace Storey Putnam, credited for creating “Bye-Lo” in the 1920s, was said to have found the right model for the doll in a hospital nursery. From the late 1800s until the early 1900s, J.D.Kestner, a Waltershausen-based toy company, produced a number of dolls, the majority of which are bisque dolls. The dolls are of different types including character dolls, lady dolls, child dolls, and baby dolls. It is not easy to distinguish a Kestner doll though, since the company had a lot of variations when it came to its mark or label.
Other highly reputable doll manufacturers were Armand Marseilles Company (which produced more affordable dolls with the letters AM found under the hairpiece on the back of the head) and Kammerer and Reinhart or K&R. K&R is known for their character baby dolls with the markings of a Jewish Star of David and the letters K & R inside the star.
Prices of dolls
A German antique doll would be more valuable if it is highly rare, of great quality and craftsmanship. The value of the doll will also depend on its current condition and whether its original features are still intact or not.
Prices of German antique dolls can range from $25 for one that is below 2 feet in height, to $150 for a bisque doll that does not have any marks. However, it is possible to come across a doll that is in excellent condition and has all of its accessories and wardrobes intact, selling for as much as $20,000 in the market.
Places to find antique German dolls
Antique dolls can be found in antique and specialty doll dealers. Buyers can also participate in auction sites such as Boxlot Auctions, eBay and Amazon.com auctions to get the best bargains.
What sets antique German dolls from other mass manufactured dolls like Barbie dolls (most of which just look the same), is that they are unique in their looks, clothing and accessories.