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Thursday, February 6, 2014

BAPS Cloth German Dolls

BAPS Cloth German Dolls

Where did the BAPS dolls come from?
Let’s go back to the 1940’s and meet Frau Edith von Arps.  She was born and lived near Burgkunstadt in the northern part of Bavaria – not far from Thuringia.  She founded the firm in 1946 and registered it under the name BAPS.

Frau von Arps suffered the deaths of her husband and 2 sons during WWII.  In order to support herself, she returned to a hobby that she had done in her past – doll making.  She was well traveled and educated – and a natural born businesswoman.  With the influx of U.S. military personnel near Nuremberg where she lived, her customer base was easy.  Who wouldn’t want a sweet doll souvenir to take home to kids, esp. of stories the children know?

Many people with BAPS today will tell of an older woman bringing the dolls on the Army base and selling them to Americans.  The items were also sold in the local German shops and exported to the U.S. – in 1948, dolls were sold in Harvey Stores and several department stores in the US.
As the business grew, Frau von Arps hired village women to help with sewing and selling the dolls.  These women peddled the dolls by going door to door. 

Now – for the dolls themselves –
The size averages about 4-5”.  Adult dolls are 5 ¼ inches to the scaled child 3 ½ inches.  The dolls are made on a wire upper frame which is attached to standard purchased wire legs with metal feet.  The framework is wrapped with a strip of a soft, fibrous paper material; legs and arms are then covered with felt.  The head is the last thing attached after the facial painting is completed.   Some exceptions exist that have arms that are thread wrapped rather than felt – like the English Grecon dolls. 

Facial features are hand painted.  Post war faces have more detail with faces being darker and eyes shadowed.  The later dolls have faces with stenciled features rather than hand painted. Many of the animals have embroidered eyes or sequined eyes and the entire metal foot is covered with felt. The later witch has a much more detailed face than earlier one.

The cloth covered doll head was sewn with floss cotton hair.  Fine stitches complete the seams, and then the dolls were then clothed with fanciful outfits.  A great deal of craftsmanship was given to these dolls along with props in many cases.  While some have a few moth holes or faded color, for the most part the dolls have remained in great condition considering their 50-60 year age.

Most unique to the dolls is the weighted metal feet.  In most cases, the dolls can stand on their own without a doll stand.  These metal feet are one way to identify the dolls, since there are no marks or tags, but some Grecon dolls did have metal feet too.

Click on photos to enlarge.







20 comments:

  1. Fascinating! I've seen examples of these, and now I know what they are. Thank you.

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  2. They are wonderful little dolls, Jan - some reasonably priced and some expensive - small enough for anyone to collect - glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. Nancy C. Felix-MooreFebruary 10, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Nice posting but partially incorrect. For the full and correct story read the book due out late March, BAPS DOLLS AND PUPPETS The History and Study of the German BAPS Dolls and Puppets, by Nancy C. Felix-Moore.

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    1. Fantastic book, Nancy! A must buy for all collectors, but an absolute for a Baps collector.

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  4. What is incorrect, Nancy? It is from an article from Doll News and the book Doll House Miniatures.

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    1. In my almost 5 years of research I discovered that there is more to the story. Those articles had all that was widely known at the time. I was just advised today that I will have the full printed first draft next week for my final edit. I will be the seller. Is it ok to put my contact info here? I am waiting on UFDC for the form for Publisher's preview night at convention in San Antonio this July. Other than friends, This is the first place that I have announced that the book is finally coming out. I also just set up a closed facebook BAPS group. I will check back later to see if OK to give my contact info here. Thanks, Nancy

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  5. Where can one purchase the book, Nancy!??

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  6. from me, see my post above. I don't if it is ok to use this site to advertise anymore than I already have and to give my contact info. thanks

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  7. Please advertise here- I am a part of the group that does this site- and I love Baps dolls!! Jill
    Contact info greatly appreciated. This site exists to learn more about dolls.

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  8. BAPS DOLLS and PUPPETS
    The History and Study of the German BAPS Dolls and Puppets
    By Nancy C. Felix-Moore

    Learn the real story and see photographs of the two ladies, the artist and the entrepreneur, who created the BAPS dolls and puppets. Discover the reason the company was named “BAPS”. View over 300 color photographs, including at least 125 different BAPS doll characters and over 100 BAPS puppets plus many variations.
    Estimated Book release date March 31, 2014.
    contact me at: bapsdollspuppets@gmail.com

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    1. I will be on the list for buying your book...I had just put out a search to try and find a BAPS Theatre when I stumbled into this site and am so excited to see information about your book. I have 23 different sets of BAPS dolls and am planning on giving a program on them at my doll club later this year. Your book is exactly what I need to make this program complete. I'm adding your email address to my contacts. Margie

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    2. Margie, I look forward to corresponding with you. I now have a website set up. It doesn't have a lot on it. I hope to expand it as I hear from other collectors. I also have a facebook BAPS group that I set up as private but it will go public tomorrow! Please email me right away! Nancy

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  9. I received my books today! I will start shipping paid orders Friday!

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  10. Has anyone ever seen a 24" long BAPS pajama bag? It is made of corduroy and fur and has a long zipper up the back. There is a BAPS tag around the arm.

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    1. Yes, I have one. My research indicates that BAPS was probably the distributer, not the maker, of the Pajama bags. I have a short paragraph with a few pictures in my book about them.

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  11. I actually have two of the pajama bag dolls, they are precious

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  12. Good morning. Does anyone know if these dolls are currently being made in Germany or elsewhere. Does the BAPS business still exist? If so, do you have any contact info for those who may still be making the dolls?

    Thanks

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    1. The business closed in 1964 and had a short revival about 1976-86 that wasn't very successful. For more information about the history and study of the dolls and puppets, you may email me at bapsdollspuppets@gmail.com.

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  13. Getting ready to sell my Baps Dolls collection. Where is a good place to post other than Ebay. I have 17 figures.

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    1. @norac : did you sell the dolls already or are they still for sale somewhere?

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