The History of the Porcelain Doll

Antique Porcelain Dolls: Jumeau, Bru, Gaultier, Rohmer and Huret

Porcelain Doll Restoration by Grashe Fine Art Restores

Though dainty and fragile, the original porcelain dolls were created for child’s play. However, today porcelain dolls are primarily manufactured as collector’s items for adults and older teenagers. Sparking popularity in the early parts of the nineteenth century, porcelain dolls were created to look like fashionable ladies of the time period. With big flowy dresses, bonnets, and sun hats, and intricate painted faces, the earlier dolls were a spitting image of the woman of the era. Today, however, porcelain dolls are made at all ages from porcelain babies and children to fashionable woman.

The First Porcelain Dolls

Popular in the 1800s, the first dolls were made from a material known as china, and originated in Germany and France as one can tell from the fashion of the dolls. Porcelain dolls were created to look like the women of the time. Since the hair was part of the china mold, it was flat on the top with big sausage-like curls in the back. Their hands and feet were made from china as well, and each foot was intricately painted with stockings or boots.

The First Doll Resembling a Child

Created by Emil-Louis Jumeau, the French Bebe was the first doll created to look like a small child. Made of bisque porcelain, the Bebe dolls resembled the children of the time. Because they were extremely expensive, only the wealthy could afford the first Bebe dolls until others began to create less expensive dolls.

First Manufacturers: Jumeau, Bru, Gaultier, Rohmer and Huret

Originally, porcelain dolls were made uniquely by one skilled doll maker, therefore no two dolls were alike. Jumeau, Bru , Gaultier , Rohmer , and Huret were a few of the very first famous doll makers. Known for making high-quality porcelain dolls that only the rich could afford was French creator Leon Casimri Bru. The first Bebe doll resembling the children of the time is given honor to Jumeau; and Bru, Steiner, and Rohmer followed in creating the Bebe dolls, though making them a little more affordable than Jumeau did. However, in the nineteenth century, manufacturers saw the popularity of porcelain dolls rise and began mass producing porcelain doll heads, hands, and feet to be attached to bodies, then clothed and sold to the populace. By the early 1840s, porcelain dolls could be bought all over Germany and France. Today, porcelain dolls are sold all over the world.

Before Buying a Porcelain Doll

Before purchasing a porcelain doll, one must decide what he or she wants to get out of the doll. A buyer should decide if it is to be a collection item, a decoration, or a child’s toy. Deciding the purpose for getting the doll helps in picking the right doll when it comes to price, material, and brand of the doll. When looking for an original antique porcelain doll, one must be sure to acquire proper documentation upon purchasing as well as research about the doll to ensure it is truly an authentic antique porcelain doll. There are various collectors’ editions of modern dolls as well that have certificates stating their authenticity.

Picking the Right Porcelain Doll

When looking for a porcelain doll, many buyers want a doll that is an authentic porcelain doll, meaning the doll is truly made from porcelain and does not just look like a porcelain doll. There are several ways of determining whether a doll is a genuine authentic collectible porcelain doll. When searching for a doll, it is important that the buyer check for markings that identify authenticity, check material and design, look for damage, and look at characteristics of the porcelain doll to distinguish genuine from fake. The following show the buyer how to find an authentic porcelain doll:

Identify Authenticity

Because porcelain doll makers want the credit for their work, they would have a marking or a mold imprinted onto their specific piece showing authenticity. An authentic porcelain doll should have a clear identification name or number either on the doll's head, shoulder, neck, or the bottom of the foot. A buyer must look for a marking on the doll in order to know if it is truly authentic, and if buying online and no marking is visible in pictures, it is important to have the seller send a picture of the marking or verify that there truly is one. Many times, a porcelain doll maker will make a certificate for each doll as well. A buyer can also look for porcelain dolls with authenticity certificates.

Check Material and Design

Authentic porcelain dolls can also be recognized by their material or clothing line. An antique or older porcelain doll from the late 1800s to early 1900s will not have rooted hair or life-like hair, but will have painted on hair. Their clothing styles will typically be made of leather. However, modern porcelain dolls will typically have a stuffed body made of cloth with Victorian style outfits.

Check for Damage

Any kind of cracks, holes, or rips can bring down the value of the porcelain doll, so it is important for a buyer to look for such deterioration before purchasing. However, some indications of age can be a way of showing authenticity or an antique doll. Look for criss cross cracks in the porcelain, fragile clothes, or heavy crazing, which are fine cracks, if looking for an old antique porcelain doll. If restoration required: need to be restored (repaired) professionally! (Only)

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