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Pre-Greiner And Greiner Dolls

Germany made papier-mache doll heads of various sizes during the early years of the nineteenth century. Most of these had glass eyes. Some dolls were almost life-sized. The larger ones with glass eyes are now called Pre-Greiner because collectors formerly thought that all papier-mache dolls were made by Ludwig Greiner of Philadelphia. He was a German dollmaker who took out the first American patent for dolls in 1858. The Pre-Greiner dolls, made from 1840 to 1845 had, for the most part, eyes of blown glass, and we now know that Greiner used pairaed eyes in his dolls. Come to think of it, we have never seen a Greiner doll with blown-glass eyes and blonde hair. Have you?

Greiner made heads only; bodies were made at home. The heads were of several sizes and of different types, both blondes and brunettes. As we have said, Greiner's first patent was granted in 18r,8, and the labels on the shoulders of the heads bear that date. The patent was extended in 1872 and the later heads bear labels of that date.

However, Greiner seems to have been at work before the date of his first patent, for we know of three heads, unquestionably Greiner, that are marked "Patent Applied For." He may also have made heads after 1872. A doll that came from Burlington, Vermont, bears evidence of wearing the Greiner label on the left side; on the right is a white label which reads, "Without linen."

Greiner's method as set forth in his patent included the use of cloth as reinforcement. Noses and chins were the weak points and when these became worn, the cloth showed through. Even without labels, the papier-mache Greiner heads are characteristic and easily distinguished from other types. They are favorites with collectors, and since the Greiner is the first American-made doll, one or more examples should be in every general collection.

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