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German Bisque Dolls
Germany has turned out the largest number of bisque dolls of any country, as well as wooden, wax, china, Dresden, and other sorts. Nuremberg and Sonnenburg were the centers of the toymaking industry for centuries, but in World War II, Nuremberg was bombed out and travelers report that not a single dollmaker or doll kiln remained.
There is a mine of information on German-bisque dolls, untapped by collectors, in German books listed in the bibliography of the American edition of Max von Boehn's excellent book, Dolls and Puppets, now out ot print. There are numerous marks and figures on the shoulders and the backs of the heads of the German-bisques of which we do not know the meaning. Here is a whole field to be investigated and a wonderful opportunity for the doll collector who knows German.
Since 1880 practically all German-bisques have had open lips and teeth. Previously lips were usually closed. The cheaper dolls have stationary eyes; the more expensive have sleeping eyes that open and close by counterweights.
One of the finest of German dolls is the Royal Kaestner which is about fifty or more years old. It has a fine jointed kid body on which is stamped the mark of a crown encircled with a ribbon ending in a bow-knot. The Royal Kaestners have beautiful faces and lovely eyes. They usually come in large sizes and are favorites of collectors.
The dolls of Armand Marseilles are also about fifty years old and more plentiful than the Royal Kaestners. They are less expensive but popular too. They have a cheaper kid body and on the back of the necks "A.M.," is incised with certain numerals.
Some fine German-bisque dolls are labeled Heinrich Handwerck. We are not sure whether this is the mark of the manufacturer or of the actual maker of the dolls. In any case the Handwerck dolls are among the finest. The name is often combined with others, as S & H, which stands for Simon & Halbig.
K.and R. dolls (Kammerer and Reinhart), were made in various sizes before the turn of the century and are very beautiful. They are marked with the Jewish six-pointed Star of David and have the letters K and R in the points. From the stock of an old store in the Middle West, the writer bought several heads which were inkstamped with the familiar star mark in an oval and the word "Germany" below. These heads were evidently made before 1891 when Congress passed a law requiring imported merchandise to carry the name of the country of origin; later K. and R. dolls have the mark incised. All bisque dolls made after 1891 have "Germany" incised as well as the other marks. Another German doll, marked with an incised horseshoe and the name Floradora, apparently originated about the time of the famous Sextette -1898 through 1903.