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Thursday, January 27, 2011

HOW TO MAKE THE BODY OF A CHINA DOLL (Double click to enlarge)

Here are instructions I used for many years to make bodies for the reproduction china dolls I used to make.  Pardon the stains.   It may seem difficult, but is readily understandable when you get into it. Many old chinas have deteriorating bodies that can't be saved, and it is acceptable to make a new body for them. I am about to make a body for an old bald china; I patched and patched her sawdust-filled body, and even considered covering it with a soft jersey material, but she was falling apart; therefore she will get a new body. I like to use cotton for stuffing, as the weight is right.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011


Here are many links to doll collecting - enough to keep you busy a while.  Some of the subjects are identifying dolls, photographing dolls, doll repair, and doll study.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Here are hand carved dolls, based on the antique Hitty doll found in an antique shop years ago. Some of these were carved by Sharon, the one at bottom right, for instance. Notice the unusual wood. She says it smells sweet. Mock orange? Notice the heart shapes. The dress is made by smocking a vintage handkerchief. Really nostalgic, and a way to use those old hankies. The carvers usually start with a blank provided, and go from there. They are sanded, finished with a sealer and have features painted. Sharon doesn't want to paint the one with wood grain showing, except maybe a few facial features. Very unusual.

If you are interested in joining a carving workshop in March in Birmingham, AL, sponsored by the Birmingham Doll Club of AL, contact Sharon (see post below about carved wooden dolls).
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Here are Bitty Babies, the 18" American Girls, and the 6" American Girls. There are historical characters, and also the option of getting a doll to match your skin tones, hairdo, and clothes. What fun. You can take your American Girl to FAO Schwartz in NYC and get her a new hairdo. Yes, she sits in a beauty shop chair while getting her hair fixed.
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Monday, January 10, 2011


Stick legs of dollar doll.

Mold No. 370.

Mold No. 390 or Floradora.

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Mold No. 370 face. Watch for chubby cheeks on these dolls.

Mold No. 390 or Floradora doll.

Mold No. 390.

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Some of my girls!

The stunning 1894 /DRGM doll that many say was made for the French trade. This AM face is one of the most beautiful, in my opinion.

Sweet Dream Baby.
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Here are Jill's notes from her informative A.M. program.  Her photos of A.M. dolls are posted above.

Armand Marseille dolls

doll club program Oct. 3, 2010

I have always found Armand Marseille dolls pretty, and they are practical in terms of availability and cost!

The period of the late 19th century through the early 20th century is often called the GOLDEN AGE of dolls. For a span of approximately 30 years, Germany was the doll making capital. Up until World War I, Thuringia, Koppelsdorf (an area in East Germany) supplied nearly 80% of the world production of dolls. Another factor contributing to the growth of doll making in Germany was that it was subsidized by the government. Also, the industry grew out of a work at home base so that anyone could get involved. Armand Marseille of Koppelsdorf at one time had the largest output of dolls of any company.

Located in Koppelsdorf, in the Thuringia region of Germany, the Armand Marseille doll company was at the heart of the German doll making revolution in the 1890’s manufacturing 1000 bisque doll heads a day from 1900-1930.

– Armand Marseille was born in St. Petersburg, Russian in 1856 – he was a butcher before being a successful doll maker. He was of Huguenot descent – hence, the French sound last name.

Marseille and his family moved to Germany in the 1860s – it was in 1885 that he bought the Koppelsdorf factory – and he changed his first name to Herman, from Armand. He also married Solveigh Heubach, sisiter of Ernest Heubach in 1891 – the Heubach connection would tend to explain why some fine AM dolls have a horseshoe mark on them - a mark which had historically been more commonly associated with the older Heubach firm.

By 1910 – 800 workers were in the factory and in home trade

Almost all of Armand Marseille’s doll heads were made of bisque – many other doll companies purchased AM doll heads. Doll bodies were generally made of composition or stuffed kid with bisque arms – interestingly, Armand Marseille did not make his own bodies.

American importers often called on AM-

4 of the largest NY importers sold AM dolls- Louis Wolf, Butler Brothers, Louis Amberg, and George Borgfeldt.

AM dolls were sold as promotional dolls –

Dollar doll – upper thighs lengthened /ruffles on dresses

The AM factory made dolls in all price ranges – and made the doll heads according to the BUYER’s price range.

Montgomery Ward – ordered cheaper doll – quality cut accordingly.


Louis Wolf- “first quality” doll – face painting, clothing, etc... were better.

In 1915, Armand Marseille Jr.‘s daughter Beatrice married the son of Ernst Heubach, again linking the two doll producing families -

1919 – AM porcelain factory and Ernst Heubach porcelain factory became United Koppelsdorf Porcelain Factory. Still made separate heads even though they joined forces.

The AM factory was torn down in 1994.

500,600,700 – series – very nice quality dolls

370/390 – read p. 6 P. Smith book.

1892, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902 – AM mark

above with Horse shoe – E. Heubach

many heads are D.E.P. (registered) or DRGM – incorporated German Co.

Patricia Smith in her book mentions that she has never seen an AM doll with pierced ears!

Perhaps the most famous work by AM was My Dream Baby (marked 341) of the 1920’s – which rivaled the famous Grace Storey Putnam’s Bye-lo Baby.

Marseille made the famous Queen Louise doll which was registered in the US in 1910 by Louis Wolfe and Co. – The bisque of the Queen Louise is extremely fine with pale coloring and sleep brown eyes. Various versions had either painted or mohair lashes while some eyebrows were glossy.

Finally, despite the wide availability and sometimes inferior quality of the Armand Marseille dolls, they have made doll collecting possible for people with limited budgets and created some exquisite, lovely dolls!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Carving in the Ozarks with Janet Cordell and Adina Huckins (CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE ALL OF IT)

Last December, I had the privilege to go to a week long carving class in Winslow, Arkansas, taught by Janet Cordell and Adina Huckins. It was so much fun! Here are their websites if you would like to learn more about Janet and Adina and find out more information about their future classes. Janet will be coming to Birmingham, Alabama, in early March to teach a four day Hitty class.

This is the "go-by" of the wooden baby doll that Janet carved for the Winslow class.

This is my Hitty I carved along with award-winning internet celebrities, Ellen and Pink, who were carved by TC Vollum.


Ellen and Pink think Hitty is so sweet!

Gorgeous Queen Anne/tuck comb style wooden doll carved by Adina Huckins.

We all stayed at the Sky-Vue Lodge, and this is the view I woke up to just about every morning!

Happy Carving!

Friday, January 7, 2011


This 12" bisque shoulder head doll with kid body has blue glass eyes. She is unmarked, and her hair is molded with great detail.

Here is an 8" 1860's china doll with a flat top hairdo and exposed ears. She has unusual green boots, and wears a taffeta dress. Her pantaloons and petticoat are decorated with round thread cotton lace and entredeaux inserts

Here is a closeup of a Simon Halbig bisque shoulder head belton doll with glass eyes and pierced ears. She is perhaps one of the Little Women dolls S.H. produced in the early 1900's. If anyone knows, please let me know.
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This 16" tall should head bisque girl with glass eyes, pierced ears, and belton head (bald) is unmarked, though attributed to Simon Halbig. She has bisque legs and arms and a tightly stuffed cotton body. She may be one of Simon Halbig's Little Women dolls.

This 12" china has an unusual face and rare hairdo with a bun in the back. She has pierced ears. She wears 2-piece outfit of brocade and lace, and has a cloth body with china arms and legs.
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