Antique Doll Makers - 1840-1930
Antique Doll Makers - 1840-1930
Who doesn't love a beautiful creamy porcelain faced doll dressed in long flowing dresses of so long ago?
Today the antique dolls available on the market were made by a handful of doll makers who were from either France or Germany, where the art of doll making was at its peak in the years between 1840 and 1930.
During these years there emerged in France a young man by
the name of Leon Casimir Bru, the youngest son of a weaver. The young Bru went
to work for a doll maker in Paris... and history began there. Soon after he
began in the work of doll making, Bru opened his own doll manufacturing
Today we have the highly sought after, highly exquisite, highly expensive Bru dolls, a name every doll collector longs to have in his collection.
Also emerging in France at that time, or sometime before Bru, was Francois Jumeau. He married into the doll business, marrying the niece of a doll maker. When Jumeau's wife died, he opened his own doll company, his own porcelain factory, and made the bebe dolls that became so popular in those times and are so popular now... a doll that looked like a little girl rather than like an adult woman.
The antique Jumeau doll today is highly prized for its delicate, exquisite beauty, which was manufactured between the years of 1972 to 1899.
In Germany during those years the German doll makers were just as busy. They were probably led by J.D. Kestner who was making dolls as early as 1820. By 1860, after Kestner had died and his grandson took over the business. They bought their own porcelain factory to make porcelain doll heads. They continued to make dolls until 1938.
Armand Marseille was another German doll maker whose dolls are highly prized by antique doll collectors today. Marseille was one of the largest and best known porcelain doll head makers. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1856, he emigrated to Germany with his family ca. 1860 and his doll business was going strong by 1886 after he bought a toy factory and a porcelain factory, producing 1000 doll heads a day from 1900 - 1930. All types of dolls were made there; bisque child, baby, lady and character dolls with kid leather bodies.
As Marseille worked, so did Heinrich Handwerck, who was beginning his doll making career in 1876. In 1902 Kammer and Reinhardt bought Handwerck out and produced the Handwerck dolls until 1832. The original dolls by Handwerck were designed by Handwerck but produced by Simon and Halbig and marked by very high quality that continued under Kammer and Reinhardt.
Ernst Kammer and Franz Reinhardt founded the Kammer and Reinhardt doll company in 1886 in Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany. Designers of their own heads, they had them produced by Simon and Halbig as they did not own a porcelain factory. As stated above, they purchased the Handwerck company and then bought the Simon and Halbig company as well.
Ernst Heubach, the son of a weaver, entered the world of doll making when he married the daughter of Armand Marseille. In 1919. The two companies, Heubach and Marseille, merged and became the United Porcelain Factory of Koppelsdorf, Germany. The companies went their own ways once more in 1939.
The exquisite dolls made so long ago by this handful of French and German doll makers are now searched for by serious collectors of the time.
Seeing the beautiful faces with the painted or glass eyes looking straight at you with a sense of wisdom that a doll cannot really have... makes you feel the essence of the doll maker himself has been made a real part of each doll.
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