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How Much Is That Dolly In The Window?

by Letha Berry (02/24/09).

In the world of antiques, just because something is old does not make it particularly valuable. Likewise, just because a doll is old does not mean you have secured your retirement. Since I have mentioned the word “antique,” I’ll take a moment to define what doll collectors consider an antique, versus a vintage doll. In the world of doll collecting, generally, a doll must be at least 100 years old to be considered an antique. While dolls from the 1920s or 1930s are nearing antique status, most doll collectors classify them as vintage.

When determining the value of a doll, several factors must be considered. These include the doll’s rarity, its overall quality and condition. The quality of dolls can vary greatly, even among the same manufacturer. Collectors prefer dolls made of pale bisque with finely painted faces, featuring multi stroked eyebrows and individual upper and lower eyelashes. Another desirable feature of antique dolls is closed mouths, as fewer of these were manufactured, thus making them rarer. Finally, for most collectors, condition is everything. A doll in excellent condition means that there is no restoration or damage to the doll in such areas as hairlines, chips or cracks, that they have original or appropriate wigs (no synthetics) and they are wearing original or appropriate era clothing. Any damage can have a negative affect on the value of a doll—as much as 75 percent—depending on the type and area where the damage is located. When purchasing a doll, it is always best to deal with a reputable doll dealer, as they will disclose any damage and price their dolls accordingly.

Baby Aero – Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd. (used with permission)

Baby Aero – Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd. (used with permission)

Bye Lo Baby

The value of the majority of bisque-head dolls falls into the few-hundreds-dollar range. An example would be Grace Putman’s highly popular Bye Lo Baby, which was know as “The Million Dollar Baby,” and remains a favorite among doll collectors. When they were first manufactured in 1922, they were the first dolls produced that portrayed a realistic three-day-old infant. These highly collectible dolls originally sold from 50 cents to $25, depending on size and features. The heads of these dolls were manufactured by many different makers in a wide variety of materials, including bisque, composition, wax, wood and vinyl. Facial features can be all painted or have glass eyes; rarer examples of Bye Lo Baby include a Schoenhut model with a wooden head, models with a wax head, and the 11-inch bisque head “Baby Aero,” model # 1418.

The bodies of Bye Lo Babies are cloth and have been called froglike, due to the appearance of their curved legs. They have been manufactured in many sizes ranging from the small (4 to 5 inches) to the larger dolls of 20-plus inches. Due to their popularity, one might think that these dolls would sell for a premium. But since large numbers were manufactured, they are easily found for sale on the doll market, which negatively impacts their value. Book values range from $200 to $800 for the more common examples, depending on their size and condition. The more rare wooden-head dolls command a much higher price, with book values ranging from $1,700 to $2,200. It might be surprising to find that the 11-inch “Baby Aero” will bring prices of $2,800 to $3,200. As always a cautionary note on the price listed: book values reflect what a collector might expect to pay a dealer for a doll in excellent original condition.

Many of the German bisque-head dolls, though beautiful, are worth a fraction of what similar sized French bisque dolls will command. This is due in part to the large numbers of bisque dolls produced in Germany. The Armand Marseille (AM) doll company, located in Koppelsdorf, was one of the most prolific of the German firms. I have read that during the peak of their production they were making over 1,000 doll heads per day. AM produced mainly bisque-head dolls from 1885 until approximately 1930, and also produced doll heads for many other firms for use on other doll bodies.

My Dream Baby from my personal collection.

My Dream Baby from my personal collection.

AM mold numbers 370 and 390 are probably the most common found on the market; many collectors will tell you that the first antique doll they purchased was one of these molds. This firm produced many baby dolls, including “My Dream Baby,” which quite possibly is their most famous doll. Realized prices at auction on these dolls are in the $80 to $100 range. Other baby dolls made by the AM firm include: Baby Phyllis, Dickie, Kiddiejoy, Baby Betty and Baby Ellen. Due to the large number of AM dolls produced, and which still available on the secondary market, they are among the most affordable of all German bisque-head dolls. There are exceptions, of course; AM dolls such as their Googlies, Just Me and Lady Dolls can command prices into the thousands of dollars depending on size, quality and in excellent condition.

20th century Dolls

Beginning in the early part of the 20th century, consumers were looking for more realistic facial features in the dolls they purchased. This gave rise to the German character face dolls, which are highly desirable among today’s doll collectors. The faces of character dolls show a realism and a depth of expression which is lacking in the dolly faced dolls. The German firms of Kammer & Reinhardt (K*R) and Kestner and Heubach produced some wonderful high quality character dolls.

K & R Marie, Mold 101. Sheldon and Sophia Gajarian (used with permission)

K & R Marie, Mold 101. Sheldon and Sophia Gajarian (used with permission)

Kammer & Reinhardt of Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany, founded its doll factory in 1886 and designed many lovely doll heads, but the company did not own a porcelain factory so it lacked the means to produce them. So many of K*R heads found on dolls were actually produced by the Simon & Halbig firm and may bear both firms markings on their heads. K*R is probably best know for its character children and baby dolls. Most character dolls have painted eyes, although some examples can be found featuring glass eyes. One example of a very desirable child character doll is the K*R mold number 101, dating circa 1909. Mold number 101 was used on both the Marie and Peter character children dolls made by K*R, and they are considered to be brother and sister dolls. It is interesting to note that mold 101 can be found in a rare mulatto doll, as well. These wonderful dolls are usually found with painted brown or blue eyes that have a downward look, one-stroke tapered brows, a closed mouth with full, pouty, coral-colored lips on a fully jointed composition body. The 19- to 20-inch example, if found in excellent condition and with painted eyes, has a value of $4,500 to $5,000. Much rarer is the glass-eyed example which has a book value of $12,500.

While not enough to retire on, owning a few of these dolls would provide a tidy sum to add to that retirement account.

Letha Berry is a Worthologist who specializes in dolls.

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11 Responses to “How Much Is That Dolly In The Window?”

  1. Sandy says:

    I bought a beautiful doll for my grand daugher which was damaged in the mail. The seller did not insure it.

    The big toe and a small portion of the right foot was broken. I have most of the pieces but need to find a really good restoring company to fix her as good as new. How does that affect the value if it has been professionally restored?

  2. SHERRI says:

    MY GRANDMA GAVE A DOLL TO ME YEARS AGO WHICH IS NOW GOING TO MY 1ST BORN GRANDDAUGHTER HOWEVER I ONLY KNOW WHAT MY GRANDMA TOLD ME ABOUT IT AND AFTER DOING SOME RESEARCH I’M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER. GRANDMA SAYS IT WAS HER GRANDMOTHER’S AND IT’S A (ARMAND MARSEILLE MARKED AM 3 DEP)MARY LINCOLN DOLL. SHE HAS A RED/WHITE CHECKERED DRESS WITH PETTICOAT AND PANTALOONS BLACK AND WHITE KNIT SOCKS AND BUTTON LEATHER BOOTS. I’VE LOOKED AT WEBSITES (ESPECIALLY ARMAND MARSEILLE) BUT CANNOT FIND THIS 24″ MARY LINCOLN DOLL. MAYBE THERE ISN’T SUCH A DOLL WHICH IS FINE BUT I WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’M GIVING HER HOW DO I GO ABOUT THAT/

  3. Letha Berry Letha Berry says:

    Hi,

    The Armand Marseille company made many dolls during their long history from 1885 until around 1930. What are the exact markings on the back of the head? His dolls are generally very well marked with markings such as:
    Armand Marseille / Germany / 370 / A 5 M they can also be found many times with a marking of A M / Germany / 370 / A 5 M instead of the full name Armand Marseille at the beginning. With these markings the 370 refers to the mold number and the A 5 M to the maker Armand Marseille and the 5 is the doll size. The AM 3 DEP marking you mention means the doll is a size 3 of the particular mold and DEP simply means “registered”. Beginning in March of 1891 all items imported into America had to be clearly marked as to their country of origin in English.

    I am not aware of a Mary Lincoln doll that was made by this company. Are there any additional markings on your doll that might give me a clue as to what mold she is?

    Letha

  4. SHERRI says:

    letha,
    the markings are
    370
    A.M 3 D.E.P.
    ARMAND Marseille
    made in germany

    she has 4 teeth and blue eyes, her arms are made of a swede like material up to her elbow and the rest of her body is cloth

  5. Jane Zeoli says:

    I have a 1921 Kiddiejoy germany..bisque head.. about 15 inches …infant…any idea of value?

  6. Careylinda says:

    I bought a doll at goodwill, and it is old. It has K & R with a star in the middle of the K and R. It has rope holding doll together, glass brown eyes short page boy cut hair,girl’s clothes. It looks like bisque for body and head. Hair is real hair. I also see two numbers one is 101 and then 49 under that. I am at a loss of who to contact to see if my doll is really a Kammer and
    Reinhardt

  7. Gerry Puckett says:

    I’m need some help on getting a value on a Bisque Head doll that was given to my grandmother. Originally it was her sister who died as a baby circa 1901. The back of the doll says Germany in cursive and the word MABEL 1210 below this. Everything is originaal on the doll. Hands are materail Hair is redish color. Dress is a tan to gold color with stripes running both directions that are bolder than background with the vertical stripes much bolder than the horizontial. Sash in the middle same material as the dress. Eyes are brown. Nothing cracked or broken or torn. Black stockings for feet area. Cream colored petticoat It appears that part of the back part of the head is stuffed in one area with material with the hair attaced to this. It’s made this way. Head and shoulders are connected to a certain point midway to chest and likewise at the back. She has a smile on her face and you can see open slightly and she has teech showing and red lips. eyebrow and eyelashed all appear paited on jist live red lips. Very good to Excellent shape.

  8. brenda zwadlo says:

    my sister came across 2 rubber molds for the japanese budha style kewpie,one large=one small at a yard sale.it was my understaning that these were made during or around WWII and the molds were to be filled with plaster. anybody have any idea of the value?

  9. Tim Vansickle says:

    I purchased a box of dolls at a auction. It had two dolls in it that have the markings of kammer and reinhardt #114.
    They are 12″ in length both boy and girl. Cloths are in good shape some stains on the dress. Would like to get a idea of a value on them and a date if possible. Thanks for any help you can give me.

  10. Deeanna Norman says:

    I have enjoyed collecting dolls since I was a girl of 12 or 13. The hobby has given me immense enjoyment ever since! I have a 13″ bisque, Asian baby doll. The mold number is AM 353 3 1/2 K. Can anyone give me any info on this doll? I can’t seem to find anything about it. Thanks!

  11. Amy Bobinski says:

    To Letha at Worthpoint. I have a Russian Doll that was given to my mother when she was about 4 years old from her uncle who spent time in Siberia, Russia. It was appraised 10 years ago for $250. The dolls description is:
    13″ Russian, 1930′s, Cloth Doll, Authentic clothes, Stockinette face, hands, molded face, human hair. Very good condition.

    Wanted to know if someone might be interested in buying her since I have 2 boys. I would like to sell it to someone who would enjoy her. I feel she has been in a box for too long and she needs a good home. Can you help me figure out how to do this? Thank you! Amy

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