Vintage Composition Dolls
A vintage composition doll is an original doll that is constructed from composite materials such as sawdust, glue, resin, wood flour and corn starch.
History & Description
The first composition dolls were created in the nineteenth century and, compared to the earlier and more fragile ceramic dolls, were marketed as unbreakable.
Some of the earliest celebrity dolls were made of composite materials. A good example is the Baby Peggy doll that was manufactured by Louis Amberg & Sons and was first made in 1923. The famous American Ideal Toy Company began producing composition dolls in 1907 and made over 200 variations until the late-1930s.
One of the most successful celebrity dolls ever, the Shirley Temple doll – made by Ideal Toy Company – was constructed from composite materials. Composition dolls were manufactured until the late-1940s in the United States, when plastic became the standard material for doll production.
Guide for collectors
Prices for vintage composition dolls can vary considerably and can range from inexpensive souvenir items to rare, highly sought after collectibles costing thousands of dollars.
The most popular and sought after examples are Shirley Temple, Madame Alexander and Effanbee dolls in mint, original condition. In addition, Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin celebrity dolls can also fetch several hundred dollars.
Vintage composition dolls can be purchased from national auction houses and eBay. Due to the dolls’ age and the fact that they were once used on a daily basis, collectors are advised to carefully inspect the item for scratches and cracks prior to purchasing.
Notable auction sales
On September 24th 2005 at DuMouchelles in Detroit, Michigan, a bisque head and composition doll made by Steiner, circa 1890, realised a price of $7,500.
On September 24th 2005 at DuMouchelles in Detroit, Michigan, a bisque head and composition doll made by Déposé realised a price of $7,000.
On March 24th 2012, a bisque head and composition doll made by Jumeau, circa 1920s, was sold on eBay for $6,458.
On April 18th 2012, a composition Shirley Temple doll, circa 1935, was sold on eBay for $1,900.
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