What is the real meaning of doll collecting? It's a historical period, culture, fashion and culture. It is the understanding of historical, technological and aesthetic value. The hobby, that connects generations: mother-daughter-granddaughter.
Most popular material in making dolls in 19th century was bisque and porcelain. The dolls were fully or partially made of either bisque or porcelain. Porcelain dolls surface was glazed, but bisque dolls looked more natural because of its unglazed and matte surface. Such dolls were play dolls as well as a decorative element of this period. Today bisque and porcelain is expensive material to be used for play dolls and are only made for the collector market.
Bisque is unglazed porcelain. The porcelain itself is made from a paste of clays and water. After that, the mixture is molded and fired at temperatures over 1260 C. Then the doll was painted and fired severaltimes more.
History of porcelain dolls
China dolls were the first porcelain dolls manufactured in Europe, in Germany in the period 1840 – 1880. The dolls were made of glazed porcelain and had painted hair. White porcelain dolls – parian dolls appeared from 1850 and were produced by German manufacturers. Parian dolls were not glazed before firing and had a matte texture too.
Bisque dolls manufacturing began in the 1860s in France and Germany. Bisque dolls are usually made from the combination of materials. To manufacture a doll completely out of bisque could make it heavy and fragile. The head of the doll is always from bisque, the body is made of cloth, leather, wood, papier – mache or a mixture of pulp, sawdust, glue, cornstarch, resin and wood flour. The head has many layers of pain to make skin tones and facial expressions, the eyes are made of glass. The all-bisque dolls were small size and were known as "penny dolls". Bisque dolls were manufactured in all sizes starting from ½ inch up to life-size dolls of 5 feet tall.
Collecting Porcelain Dolls
People use the terms porcelain doll, bisque dolls and china dolls with equal meaning. But collectors strictly distinct the terms china dolls, porcelain dolls, made of glazed porcelain, bisque dolls, made of unglazed porcelain referring to antique dolls.
The most famous French manufacturers of bisque dolls were Jumeau, Bru, Gaultier, Rohmer, Simone and Huret.
Kestner is one of the oldest dollmaking companies in Germany and often called the King of Dollmakers. Beside the quality, collectors love Kestner dolls also for the variety of dolls the manufacturer produced. You can bid on auction for such dolls, where price varies from £82 to £1500, but can raise during bidding. Another best known antique dolls brand is Armand Marseille Dolls made in Germany. Another famous porcelain manufacturer is Simon & Halbig, who had 2 factories in Grafenhain and Hidburghausen, near Thuringia, Germany. The brand Simon & Halbig is known for their fine bisque doll heads and innovation in the doll industry.