Although dolls made of wood, terracotta, cloth and ivory have been preserved since ancient times of Greece and Rome, for most collectors the history of dolls begins in the XVIII century, when in all European countries these toys were carved from wood. Some of them looked realistic with well-proportioned figures. They were not intended for fun, but played the role of miniature mannequins. Fashion designers sent them to the royal courtiers and to American salons so that the ladies there could get acquainted with the latest fashion. Later, the adjacent empire style outfits required dolls with flexible figures, and in Germany, carvers began to make them with hinged limbs. For games in the XVIII century. and the beginning of the XIX century. used simpler dolls with bowling-like figures with fixed arms and legs. Heads were carved from wood or sculpted from plaster, and hair and facial features were painted.
In France, unglazed porcelain was used to make dolls. Soon he learned to give a delicate flesh color. In the second half of the XIX century. porcelain made the head and shoulders, as well as the lower parts of the arms and legs. The rest was a case of white or light pink linen or leather, filled with sawdust.
French puppet masters came up with the idea of making the body of a toy out of a “composite” material consisting of a soft mixture of glue, resin and bleach, applied to the wire frame and becoming hard when dry. Soon this innovation was adopted by their German competitors. Wooden ball joints were installed on the elbows, shoulders, hips and knees, and limbs fastened with an elastic band. With the new technology, the shoulders of porcelain became unnecessary, and in the 1880s. it is common practice to make a ring around the neck and place the head in the notch of the torso so that it can rotate.
In the 1860s – 1870s thanks to porcelain, the French were able to give the faces of the dolls a more natural expression. The Germans immediately copied the technology and introduced it into mass production. Glass eyes, pierced ears, and wigs made from human hair or mohair helped to make the dolls look like people. Toys bought with regard to facial expressions. Soon a counterweight was attached to her eyes, and when the doll rolled over, her eyes closed on her back. Most of them had their mouth slightly open and their front teeth were painted or glued. Puppets with compressed lips were released in smaller quantities, so they are now valued more.
In general, French dolls were of higher quality than German ones. They were usually more carefully and fashionably dressed, they had lush hair; long hair was a sign of superior quality, since both human hair and mohair were expensive materials. By the end of the century, the leading manufacturers of dolls, Jumo, Roule and Dekam, as well as Leon Casimir Bru in France and such German companies as Heubah Brothers, Simon and Holbig, Kuno and Otto Dressel and Kestner, put their products (usually just below the neck) embossed brand name and model number. The heads of the French dolls of that time were marked with the letters SFBJ, which formed the abbreviation of the name of the French society of producers of goods for children.
In the first half of the XIX century. dolls portrayed adult women, but buyers liked dolls more like little girls, and they became commonplace by the end of the century. At the beginning of the XX century. Baby dolls dominated the market, and this continued until the appearance of well-dressed Barbie after World War II.
In Germany at the beginning of the XX century. puppet designers, who were tired of dolls with an indifferent facial expression, began to make heads with frowns, offended and sad faces, gradually reproducing almost all children’s emotions. The first doll with “character” was the model of Kammer and Reinhardt at number 100, which also had bending limbs. Her success inspired other manufacturers, Kammer and Reinhardt continued the work, giving each new doll a name. These products have become a cherished dream of collectors of German dolls. Other firms, including the Heubah brothers, which did more than the rest of the characteristic dolls, also produced non-European Persian figures from black and brown porcelain.
For the collector of dolls, not only an attractive appearance and identification number, but also genuine clothing matter. French dolls were dressed in the latest fashion, but most of the dolls at the turn of the century were sold in plain cotton dresses or nightgowns, and they had a hat or cap on their head.
Many collectors specialize in children’s or adult fashion of a certain period. Authentic doll costumes increase the value of an instance, but require more attention. For example, they need to be protected from the sun so that the colors do not fade, the seams do not disperse and matter does not tear. Silk and satin items cannot be washed. If the doll costume requires repair, you can sew new clothes for the doll, but you should not throw out old clothes and you need to store them together with the doll.