If you are serious about starting a doll collection of any kind you should have some basic knowledge of how to identify doll types. There are basically nine doll types that include:
German Bisque Dolls
Glazed China Heads
Paper Mache Dolls
A bisque doll refers to a type of doll that has been fired twice having color added before the second firing. The color before the second firing includes the overall tint as well as the facial features. Even though the Bisque heads were expensive to make, if made on a large enough scale, they could become very cost effective. The Bisque dolls were also created from molds like a poured wax doll and later composition dolls.
The early bisque heads had molded hair and eyes, later heads had possessed glass inset, sleep eyes, or flirty eyes. Some bisque dolls even had inset tongues and teeth. Most of the bisque dolls were produced in Germany because of the large deposits of clay needed to make the porcelain. Body types of the bisque dolls varied. Some types were made of leather, cloth, wood, paper mache, composition, and bisque. Bisque doll bodies are heavier than other types of dolls. Bisque dolls are usually only seen in a smaller size doll.
The term “composition dolls” is a collective term used to describe a variety of pulped-wood or paper-based mixtures. These mixtures were used to create heads and bodies. These mixtures were used in the place of wood because they were generally less expensive. They were also easier to use and allowed for more creativity than working with wood materials. The easier to use materials allowed a greater production with machines, which made a huge difference throughout the doll making industry.
Some of the formulas for composition included edible ingredients like eggshells and bread. This created a problem with insects, bugs and rodents gnawing upon them. Other formulas of composition were susceptible to changes in the temperature and humidity. When the composition formula shrank or swelled the result was cracking or crazing of the paint on the dolls. The varnish used on the composition dolls often became discolored and turned dolls to a yellowish tint. Due to all these problems with the composition formulas it is very difficult to find a composition doll in really great condition, one without the cracking and/or peeling of the heavy paint.
When you do find a composition doll in good condition, storage conditions has to be controlled. Avoid storing in basements or upstairs closets or any area closed off from the rest of the house. Store your composition dolls in the more lived in areas of your home.
The French Bisque Dolls created in the 1840’s to the 1950’s have a few characteristics unique from other doll makers. They usually have large almond shaped eyes, long painted lashes, large brows with numerous strokes. The eyes are paperweight. Hair of mohair wigs and either jointed composition bodies or kid leather bodies. Also, the French Bisque dolls were more detailed and a bit fancier than the German Bisque dolls. A few of the best known French Bisque doll manufacturers include:
When trying to identify a French Bisque doll look for markings on both the heads and bodies. There are a number of markings distinctive to Jumeau, Bru, Steiner or other French doll makers. The markings also help to identify French made Bisque dolls from their German counterparts.
As a general rule, French Bisque dolls are much harder to find than their German counterparts. They are also considered to be more valuable. If you can add a good French Bisque doll to your collection, you have made a major accomplishment.
Continued in Part 2
Written by: Connie Limon. For more information about starting and maintaining a Vintage Doll Collection visit http://smalldogs2.com/VintageDollCollecting For a variety of FREE reprint articles as well as special sections in U.S. History and the Kennedy Administration visit http://www.camelotarticles.com/
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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved