Thursday, October 17, 2013

Later antique dolls

At the beginning of the 20th century dolls began to be made in a variety of new materials, especially celluloid, composition and plastic, but also in fabrics such as stockinet and felt. French and German manufacturers continued to produce dolls and adapted to the new media, especially celluloid. Some manufacturers even brought out new versions of dolls in celluloide made in moulds previously used for bisque dolls.

Vintage Barbie dolls
American manufacturers steadily increased in prominence, making dolls in all media. New York was the most important production area, with companies such as E.I. Horsman, the Ideal Novelty & Toy Co. (which made the first ever Shirley Temple doll) and the Acme Toy Company.

Chad Valley cloth doll
However, the biggest impact was made with Barbie, probably the most succesful selling doll ever, introduced in 1959 by the American firm Mattel. Look out also for advertising dolls, such as those made by the American Character Doll Co. to promote Lee Jeans and the English-made Bisto Kids, inspiring customers to by the famous gravy.
Betty Boop doll with original box

As this is the period of mass-production, collectors should scrutinize 20th-century dolls for quality and also condition - not all these materials were robust: composition can craze and flake and soft fabrics perish easily. Nevertheless, there is a huge range of affordable and attractive dolls available to choose from, and with such a choice, every collector is bound to find something to suit their tastes and their pocket.

Doll house antique dolls
 Collecting tips
  • Look out for felt dolls made by Steiff; these usually have a face-steam, button eyes, large feet and occasionaly a Steiff button in one ear.
  • A distinctive feature of Lenci felt dolls are the separately stitched outer fingers and joined inner fingers.
Lenci doll
  •  American composition dolls from the mid-20th century and later tend to be slightly more expensive than their German counterparts, but are worth an extra as they are usually better made and less prone to cracking and other types of material disintegration. 
  • The most collectable Barbies are the brunettes and those with titian hair, as these were made in smaller numbers than blonde models.
Lenci doll
  •  Among hard plastic dolls, look for Betty Boop and film star dolls, such as Deanna Durbin.
  • Shirley Temple dolls were made by the Ideal Toy and Novelty Company in huge numbers during the 1930s and later; the earlier examples are the most desirable and authentic - and therefore command the highest prices. Officially registered ones should be marked on the head or shoulderplate.
Shirley Temple doll

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