Sometimes, the lower legs, feet, hands, and arms were also made of china. The china sections had small holes punched in them, and were sewn to doll bodies made of fabric and stuffed with horsehair, straw, sand or other materials. Dolls came in all sizes, from a few inches to nearly 36" or more ; the size depended upon the china factory's ability to mold larger body sections. China dolls first began to appear in the 18th century notes the Childhood Playthings exhibit from the Shriver-Weybright Exhibition Gallery, although they were far less available than the wood, gesso, wax and papier mache dolls of the era.
Many "dolls" were, in fact, figures made for creches, the Christmas manger scenes set up in churches and homes.
What Is a China Head Doll?
China was imported from the East to Europe, until the secret of porcelain making was revealed, and Germany started to produce fine china in its own factories. By the first part of the 19th centuries, china head dolls were claiming their place in the home. As china manufacturing methods became more dependable, china head dolls started to fully enter the market by the s according to Collectors Weekly.
They had varied looks. In Europe, dolls china factories began to turn out dolls resembling the young Queen Victoria after she took the throne. European and American factories molded dolls with popular hairstyles, pretty faces and delicate hands. Many dolls represented young women and girls, although boy dolls and baby dolls were also manufactured. China was first made in the East, where the process was secret, according to Global Times newspaper.
Guide to Antique Dolls with China Heads
It's called "china" because that is where the pottery originated. China is made from a mixture of clay and minerals mixed with water, molded or shaped and then baked at high temperatures. Unfortunately, many factories did not identify their products, since they were making parts for resale and not complete dolls.
Other factories were sold and resold, changing their names and their marks, but still making dolls and doll parts. Some makers placed a doll or child's name on the shoulder plate, without noting the factory. Just a few well-known china head doll manufacturers among the dozens who produced them included:.
American companies, along with other German, French and Czech factories also produced dolls, but, as previously mentioned, many of the dolls were unmarked and little is known about the smaller companies. Collectors Weekly notes that from the s until the s or so, millions of china head dolls were made and sold, and are still popular in the antiques marketplace.
If you know the maker of a doll, you may be able to find it on Doll Links , which lists china head and other doll manufacturers from the 19th century on. Dating a china head doll takes research and experience, although there are a couple things that can help clue you in to the date of the doll. Unglazed bisque dolls became popular after Harper's Bazaar referred to china dolls as "old fashioned" in , though they continued being made well into the early 20th century.
The earliest china dolls often depicted grown women. From approximately the s on, child-like china dolls became popular. Blonde-haired china dolls became more prevalent at the end of the s. A typical china doll has a shoulder head made of glazed whitish porcelain, with painted molded hair and facial features. The head is typically attached to a body made of cloth or leather , sometimes with arms and legs made of porcelain. Some early china head dolls were placed on peg jointed wooden bodies.
Famous Manufacturers and Their Marks
China doll parts were also sold for the customer to fashion a body and clothing. Some china dolls, like the " Frozen Charlotte dolls", were made entirely out of porcelain, with head and body made in one piece without any articulation. The Frozen Charlotte dolls range in size from 2. Most china dolls are unmarked or marked with only a size number.
Alt, Beck and Gottschalck dolls will sometimes have a size and model number. Parian dolls are similar to china dolls in that their heads are made of untinted porcelain, but they are unglazed with a matte finish. They are found on similar body types.
They were also mainly made in Germany, from around the s to s. There was a resurgence in the popularity of china dolls in the mids when many were reproduced in the United States by companies such as Ruth Gibbs of New Jersey and Californians Emma Clear and Mark Farmer,  among many others.
Guide to Antique Dolls with China Heads | LoveToKnow
Some hobbyists purchased or made molds from original antique china dolls and created reproductions in low fired ceramic. The antique dolls were not typically signed in this manner. There were several models of china dolls made in Japan and marketed in the 20th century too.
These doll heads were often labeled only with easily lost stickers inside the heads. They are frequently mistaken for their antique German predecessors.