Bisque and china dolls are both made of porcelain. Bisque is unglazed, while china has a shiny glazed finish. While the vast majority of bisque dolls that interest collectors would be classified as antique rather than vintage, there are quite a few bisque and china dolls that fit well into a vintage collection. Click on a photo to see a larger version.
At the start of the 20th century, the majority of bisque and china dolls were made in Germany. Most of these were similar to the dolls that had been produced there for decades. But early in the 20th century, bisque dolls began to appear that had a decidedly modern look. These were the Kewpies, and they were designed by American illustrator Rose O'Neill. George Borgfeldt, an American distributor, hired sculptor Joseph Kallus to turn the Kewpies into three dimensional dolls, and outsourced their manufacture to Germany. The Kewpies and their wide-eyed "googly" look were all the rage, and they were copied by many other companies. The Kewpies have been made in every material possible, and are still popular today.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.
|German firms continued to produce bisque dolls until World War II, when the factories were converted for use in the war effort. Some of these were German designs and others were produced, like the Kewpies, for American companies. The two dolls pictured are painted bisque - the color is not fired on - and are doll house size. These probably date from the 1920s.|
China, or glazed porcelain dolls were also made in the USA. This is one of the Godey's Little Lady dolls made by Ruth Gibbs of Flemington, NJ in the late forties.
There are many antique reproduction china head dolls that were made in the mid 20th century. Some were sold as kits, others were made by crafters in ceramics classes, and some were made by professional doll artists. This ad was scanned from the Spring/Summer 1958 issue of McCall's Needlework and Crafts magazine.
Most of the bisque or porcelain dolls produced in the second half of the 20th century were intended for adult collectors rather than children. This trend continues today. Pictured is Marcella by Wendy Lawton.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.
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Copyright 2006-2010 by Zendelle Bouchard.