Antique Dolls (Pre-1930s)

Vintage dolls are appealing to collectors due to the rich and interesting history and background. Antique dolls are available in many styles and sizes. Some people prefer to just collect one type of doll, such as German bisque dolls, while others have collections that include a wide range of eras and materials, such as French and American dolls.

What are the categories for antique dolls?

Vintage dolls are typically divided into categories based on their age, type, and country of origin. These are the various categorizes for these collector's items.

  • Age: An antique doll is technically any item produced before the 1930s. The majority of vintage items are made between the 1700s and 1900s, when industrialization of children's toys became possible.
  • Country of origin: Most collector's items are French, German, or American.
  • Type: Some dolls are children's toys in the shape of infants, toddlers, young children, or adults. Vintage dolls may also be an adult item used to display fashions.
  • Size: Items may range from miniatures used in dollhouses to full-sized toys the size of real infants.
What materials are used for vintage dolls?

The construction method for antique and vintage toys is a major subject of interest. Most antique dolls are made from these methods.

  • Cloth dolls: Cloth stitched into the shape of a human is one of the oldest doll making methods. These antique dolls are stuffed with anything from more cloth to sawdust or flour.
  • Porcelain dolls: Most common in the 1800s, this material is a hard ceramic. Porcelain items tend to have a cloth body and a porcelain head.
  • Wood dolls: Carved wood was frequently used for German and Dutch toys in the 1600s through the 1900s.
  • Composition dolls: A composite material made of glue, sawdust, and resin was used to create vintage items in the 1800s.
What's the difference between bisque and china dolls?

These two types are frequently confused for each other. They are technically both a type of porcelain material. However, bisque is unglazed, so it is not shiny. China is a glazed material that has a shiny appearance. Of course, when an item is older, it may lose some of its shine. Another way to tell if an item is bisque is to look at its composition. China items usually have hair painted on while bisque ones have wigs. Bisque is typically just used for the limbs and head while china is used for the entire body.

How do you identify a vintage doll?

The first step to identifying antique dolls is to find its era. You can typically discover a rough age for the antique by finding the earliest date that your style of antique was produced. Check underneath the item's hair, beneath its dress or clothing, or between its shoulders for a maker's mark. Common and collectible makers include Bru, Jumeau, Kewpie, Madame Alexander, Betsy McCall, Gaultier, and Kestner. Other antique brands to look for include Effanbee, Lenci, and Heubach.