Friday, January 30, 2015

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Barbie Sales Down!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Barbie Sales Down!:  From Fortune: Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images Iconic doll is facing pressur...

What memories do you have of playing with Barbie?  Here is a story that is a good prompt.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Susan Whittaker Auction by Theriault's

Theriault’s Press Release

Record Prices for Antique Dolls at Theriault’s January Auction

One of three rare googly dolls, "Virginia, Ginny for Short"

designed by American Illustrator Oscar Hitt in 1927,and made in Germany. It sold for $23,500.

Theriault’s annual January auction even in Newport Beach, California, has become legendary over the years in its offering of some of the world’s most prestigious collections.  This January was no exception for the firm, which specializes exclusively in the auction of antique dolls and childhood ephemera, and is now celebrating is 45th year.

Featuring the storied collection of Beverly Hills socialite, Susan Whittaker, whose 40-year collection became a legend in the world of dolls, the auction fetched prices that would shatter previous record marks set by Theriault’s.

It was the high profile doll by Albert Marque that truly stole the show. The fabulous example, dressed in its period historical costume of Lorraine, fetched a record $310,000 (Including 12% premium) making it an American record for a doll at auction and a world record for a French doll.  Heated bidding ensued from the moment it started at $150,000 and quickly finished off in a battle of a phone bidder, who was the ultimate winner, and an internet bidder which interestingly became the highest online bid every registered at Theriault’s.

But it was not just one doll that people remembered.  The bidding pace was something to behold and the clamor that ensued between online and onsite bidders was a dance of back and forth that had the first day of 300 lots taking nearly 6 hours to complete.  In that time, Theriault’s shattered its own record with the most online bids ever recorded as thousands of buyers from across the world competed for prized objects from the collection.

The auction included six rare bebes by French dollmaker Andre Thuillier, whose dolls had been a favorite of that sophisticated collector.  “Today, it’s difficult to fined even one example of these dolls”, noted Theriault’s president, Stuart Holbrook.  The dolls sold consistently over high estimate with two examples at $60,500 and $65,000.  An exquisite 20” bebe by Aristide Halopeau sold far above estimate, fetching $56,000.

Susan Whittaker’s collecting emphasis was in three major categories: elegant bebes, captivating googly dolls, and all-bisque mignonettes.  The googly collection included rare examples of the Oscar Hitt-designed model, marked “Virginia, Ginny for Short”, the two perfect examples selling at $23,500 and $27,000. Designed by the 1920s cartoonist, Oscar Hitt, who also created the popular tin toy, Hi-Way Henry, little is known about the origin of the doll or the meaning of its mysterious name “Virginia, Ginny for Short.”

More than 150 rare all-bisque mignonettes and miniature dolls were featured in the two-day event, with prices consistently doubling or tripling their pre-sale estimates; a dainty slightly smiling model in original wedding costume and coiffe (pre-sale (900-1300) soared to $3800, for example.

Collectors were equally enamored with doll ephemera.  A 13” French Cinderella coach went to $7800 (pre-sale estimate $700/1200), a 15” French citrine with painted decorations topped at $3200 (pre-sale estimate $1100/1500), and a rare 2” ormolu frame display by Erhard & Sohne soared to six times its pre-sale estimate of $400/600, topping at $3600.

The $2.5 M total result demonstrated the continued demand and exciting energy within the doll collecting world.  Holbrook commented, “One of the most encouraging and positive signs for our industry was not only the record prices, something that we are seeing now on a regular basis, but the number of new collectors coming into the bidding for high-end pieces.”

The dolls were presented in a hardbound 204 page keepsake book with exquisite photography and detailed descriptions   Very limited copies of the book are still available, or collectors can visit to view auction details and prices.

Theriault’s will now turn its attention to yet another landmark legacy collection when it offers the lifelong, fine antique doll collection of Berta Leon Hackney at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on March 28 and 29, 2015. For further information, visit or call 800-638-0422.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wooden Doll Puzzle

For those enjoy puzzles, here is one on wooden dolls to go with our Wooden Doll Video. 

Wooden Dolls Word Search 

P A D D L E D O L L B S R L T 
L K A C H I N A K E T O L W W 
L N E D O O W A D I B O G O O 
O T O D S I R P C E D C O S D 
D A O I L A O K R N A M L A U 
T I L U K S F T I R Y Y L K T 
S L V U T I O P V R S H I H C 
E I R D G E S I O N A E W S H 
N I O U B E N K H G N A O U D 
S L R A H G C B Q C T R G R O 
L E L T T I H W O U O T U T L 
B S O S H T O T T I E O T A L 
A L K O K E S H I A S E N M S 
C D O O W N O T T O C N N I C 
R E I D L O S N E D O O W E P 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pondering Poppets

Amberg Victory Dolls, Featured in Feb. 2015 Issue
Ours is a thoughtful hobby.  Dolls require a lot of thought, research, musing. With social media, we can now muse in public on Facebook groups, Twitter, Flickr, and other social media. Every so often, a controversy of sorts erupts.  In one of my groups on vintage dolls today, there was a fair amount of "doll snobbery" going on for lack of a better term.  Also, rules were imposed about posting that had never been imposed before.

The main bone of contention, or doll of contention if you will, had to do with collectors' preferences in dolls. One member was very outspoken about only collecting for monetary gain.  Others only wanted to talk about dolls that they had as children, and a few were put off by the disparaging remarks about some of the members' dolls.

I like to share information on these groups, and I tend to be encouraging, so I let everyone know which articles I had read, or written on the various topics.

It got me thinking, all this passion over poppets.  I've come to realize that there are as many kinds of dolls as their are people, more really, when we include fantasy figures and anthropomorphized animals like teddies.

In the antique and vintage dolls we collect, the possibilities seem endless, even when there is a finite number of old dolls available. Before dolls became the valuable art items they are now, early collectors valued them as historical and educational objects, cherished for their beauty, homespun qualities, or stories they inspired.

Most collectors probably still choose dolls according to similar criteria.  Look at the articles we feature in ADC that discuss private and museum collections. The variety is staggering, and no two collectors' philosophies are the same.

A few years ago, pincushion dolls, celluloid and metal dolls were considered "secondaries", yet today, they are avidly collected and books are written on them.  Many are now admired as rarities.

The gorgeous vintage early vinyl and hard plastic fashion dolls of the 50s and 60s used to be ignored by serious collectors, but Theriault's is featuring them in Monday's Rendezvous Auction.  They have also been part of the Marquis auctions sponsored by the legendary doll masters.

Certainly, Richard Wright and Dorothy Coleman were no doll snobs.  UFDC categories featured in the upcoming Convention competition are dizzying in their variety; there is really something for everyone.  The writers we feature each month on this blog always produce different dolls for our readers.  The same doll never appears in these collections; all the featured dolls are different.

I think there is always room for conversation where dolls and reasons for collecting them are concerned.  I'm not sure there is a wrong or right.  It is true that dolls educate and tell the story of mankind. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

How do you Choose Dolls for your Collection?

A few days ago, I was driving to work and began to ponder what makes us add one doll to our collections over another.  We have some insight when we post monthly interviews with our writers, but dolls are as unique as those who collect them. Do you collect by theme? Do you choose early antique dolls, wooden dolls, wax dolls?  Do you like Lenci characters? Small dolls?  Very large dolls? China heads? We'd love to hear from you; feel free to comment on this post, and let us know how that special doll happens to come home with you.

Remember also, you have a chance to add to your collection via the upcoming Theriault's Rendezvous Auction, Monday night, January 26, 2015, featuring dolls from the Tonner collection and more.

Minerva Metal Head Sister and Brother

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Metal Doll and Automaton Video of the Month

This month's video tells the history of metal dolls, metal heads, dolls with metal parts, mechanical dolls and automatons.  The earliest suggested figural  movement is portrayed in cave paintings from Prehistoric Europe, tens of thousands of years ago.  Ancient play dolls, like the 1st century Roman doll of carved bone, were articulated, much the same way modern dolls are. Automatons have their origins in talking statues from Ancient Egypt, but they, and puppets, were known all over the Ancient World, and Xenophon allegedly wrote of them.  Mechanical figures and figures of metal were known in Ancient Continental Africa, Egypt, Europe, Asia, and America. The Celts made bronze figures, and Bible talks of The Golden Calf in The Old Testament.

The 18th century was the heyday of automatons, and they were written about in Mr. Haddock's Androids, 1797.  Yet, even in the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and others experimented with them, and Cellini made figures of gold and silver.  Wealthy families had soldiers of metal and silver, and toys of silver, and even gold for their children.  Sir Thomas More spoof them in Utopia, where he would have precious metals and gems devalued and given to children as toys.

Edison experimented with dolls that were both metal bodied and talked.  Maezel, inventor of The Metronome, created the mamma doll, and Huret and Rohmer fought in a law suit over the patent for a zinc bodied doll.  Huret, Vervelle, perhaps Bru, Minerva, Juno, Dina, Giebler-Falk, and Vincent Lake made metal headed and all metal dolls that resembled china and bisque heads, but were said to be unbreakable.  Soon, almost all dolls had metal parts or hooks, especially Schoenhuts and Joel Ellis dolls. Shown in the video is a mint Minerva in Black Forest Dress, once in The Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art.

Robots and metal space toys soared to popularity between 1930-70, and continue to be very popular.  Here, there are examples like Robosapien, Lost in Space, Dr. Who Clockwork Figures, and Robopet.

These dolls endure the test of time; metal dolls and automatons continue to be made, and without a doubt, their sturdy and/or key-wound little bodies with dance into the future to the tune of "Coppelia" and "The Nutcracker Suite."

February Sneak Peek!

In Our February 2015 Issue
Influenced by Steiff and Lenci, Raynal began in 1925 producing caricature dolls followed by classic dolls. Their lower prices allowed them to compete to the extent that they had a negative impart on Lenci and Nicette. French doll expert Dominique Pennegues teaches collectors how to identify dolls by Raynal. 
Judith Armistead provides us with an in-depth look at the doll furniture produced in the early part of the 20th century by William B. Luce and his son. A craftsman of Hingham, MA, the woodenware capital of the country which came to be known by the sobriquet “Bucket Town”, there has been much speculation about the furniture made by Luce. This article will clear any confusion concerning the dollhouse furniture made by this talented craftsman. 
Bébés in Distress is the title of a charming article by our Norwegian friend and collector Alf Ertsland. Dolls coming into his and Svein’s collection are seldom ready for immediate display, indeed it takes patience and much trying on of wigs, shoes and accessories to bring the doll to the ultimate goal… bringing a doll closer to the time it was produced. 
On a recent trip to Sweden Kate Reed researched the porcelain doll company Rörstrand and their elusive dolls. She has identified nine different molds and describes them in detail along with photos. China collectors will delight in this informative and ground-breaking article. 
I had the privilege of attending the final evening of the École des Poupées held at Margaret Kincaid’s home and featuring the expertise of Margaret, Samy Odin and Ann Coleman. It was total immersion in Jumeau bebes with plenty of hands-on experience. Another école on mignonettes is slated for June, prior to the Gaithersburg doll show.
Speaking of the Gaithersburg show, check out our look at some of the highlights of this re-energized popular event. 
The Arizona Doll and Toy Museum lives on thanks to the generosity of Sandy Kralovitz. Forced to find a new location, Sandy offered a new home for the museum in a building she owns in the historic section of Glendale, AZ. It is so important to support our few remaining doll museums! Jennifer Craft-Hurst shares highlights from the museum.
Ginger Strain writes about the Victory Doll made by Louis Amberg. Why the name Victory which is clearly marked? The author surmises that it may be because the doll was born during WWI, when we blockaded German merchant ships and the American doll industry began its ascendance. She shares several examples of this little known doll with our readers.  
A visit to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg during last year’s TLC Grand Tour was unforgettable for this writer. A look at some of the early dolls I wished I could have taken home!
Happy Collecting!

Antique Doll Collector, P.O. Box 239, Northport, NY 11768
Call us Toll Free at 888-800-2588

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wooden Dolls; A Video with Lots of Variety

This video has a variety of wooden dolls from different eras.  Titles and Captions are near the end. There is no music on this one.  I love wooden dolls, because wood is still a living substance, and it just adds something to have wonderful dolls made from it.  Enjoy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Poulbot, Featured also in Cotillion Auction by Theriault's

Below is a Poulbot featured in today's and tomorrow's Cotillion Auction, featuring the collecting of Susan Whittaker.  Photos and text are courtesy of Theriault's, but what a lovely doll! We wils follow up with highlights from the auction in future blog posts.

Lot: 111. French Bisque Art Character Doll Designed by Poulbot

14" (36 cm.) Bisque socket head,hazel-brown glass inset eyes,tinted brows and eye shadow,tiny button-shaped nose with accented nostrils,closed mouth with wide accent line between the lips,very full cheeks,auburn mohair wig,French composition body with jointing at shoulders and hips,antique cotton school girl dress,smock,undergarments,shoes,stockings,woven bonnet. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: SFBJ 239 Paris Poulbot (incised signature). Comments: Paris,circa 1916,the dolls were made for one or two years only,designed by the famed Parisian illustrator Francisque Poulbot whose signature illustration work depicted the war orphans of the Montmartre district of Paris; the same concept was developed for his doll,of which only one model was made,costumed as a boy (Nenette) or girl (Rintintin,as in this present doll). Value Points: rare doll with compelling presence and historical background.
Presale Estimate: 8500/11000

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Interview with Susan Foreman, collector and writer for Antique Doll Collector Magazine

When did I start collecting?  I like to say at birth.  My very first photos show me hugging a doll.  I loved dolls throughout my childhood.  Cissy and Lissy were my best friends.  After my mother passed away when I was 13 my life changed drastically and I set aside the dolls.  Eventually (when I was 19 and in college) my dad sold our house and most things were given away.  So imagine my surprise some 10 years later (about 1977 or thereabouts) when my dad called and said he had gotten some boxes out of storage, one of which was labeled "Susan's Dolls".  As I opened the box, my love for dolls was rekindled.  There was my much loved Cissy, Lissy, and all their Madame Alexander friends.  Also in the box were my grandmother's and great aunt's dolls (circa 1890), and thus my love for antique dolls began.


My taste in dolls as a collector has definitely changed over the years.  When I first started I wanted Big....and I wanted quantity.  Now I'm drawn to smaller dolls of excellent quality and rarity.  My favorite type of doll is the French Bebe.  Tied with the Bebe as a favorite would be character dolls.  And it's the face, especially the eyes, that draw me to a doll.  There is just that impossible to explain emotional connection.


Although I do enjoy sewing I do not sew for my antique dolls...I prefer to have them in either original costumes or clothing of the period.  When I was making dolls, however, I loved to create their clothing.
Max and Mortiz, Susan Foreman Collection


I would say that my dream doll would be an A. Marque.  But since my funds won't allow that, I am still looking for just the right Circle Dot Bru to display with my Brevete and Bru Jne.


I have included a few photos of my favorites.  I love the Poulbots  and the story of how they came about.
Poulbot Dolls, Susan Foreman Collection


The 16" premier/portrait Jumeau called out to me some 30 years ago at a Baltimore auction.  At the time I was sure I would never get her since there was a phone bidder that was determined (or so it seemed).  So imagine my surprise when the bidding ended and my late husband Jay who was working as a runner for George Theriault that day walked out from behind the curtain carrying the doll.  He handed it to me and said "Happy Birthday".

Portrait Jumeau, Susan Foreman Collection


The laughing Jumeau 208 always makes me happy. And how can you not love the mischievous Max and Moritz (K*R 123 and 124)?



Laughing Jumeau, Susan Foreman Collection

Finally the smiling Jumeau 203 makes me smile.


Smiling Jumeau, Susan Foreman Collection

And while I love the bisque dolls, the composition Patsy family...especially Skippy....seem to call out to me as well.  This wonderful little Skippy cowboy was once the childhood doll of Jane Withers.

Skippy, Susan Foreman Collection

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Theriault's to Auction a Grouping of Chloe Preston Figures; Mary Hillier would be There if she Could!

Among the lots to be auctioned by Theriault's in their Cotillion Auction next weekend is a group of bisque Chloe Preston figures. These mean a lot to me because my dear friend, the late Mary Hillier, finished and published a book on Chloe Preston and her work right before she died on Valentine's Day, 1999. A few weeks before, she sent me a copy of an article she had written on antique valentines,which she loved.  Mary was very proud of her Preston book; she enjoyed writing it, and thought it was among her best work.  I like to think that this little grouping of Chloe Preston dolls is a sort of memorial to my friend, noted doll author and collector, Mary Palmer Hillier. Happy Doll Collecting and Bidding!

Photo by Theriault's. Chloe Preston Designed these Velvet Dinkie Dogs, Shown with
 an Orsini and small Googley

Friday, January 2, 2015

ADC Posts Highlights of Theriault's Nov 22 & 23 NYC Auction

The January 2015 issue of Antique Doll Collector Magazine is featuring highlights of this historic Theriault's auction, held at The Waldorf Astoria.  If you read my posts on Doll Collecting at, and our blogposts, here, you know that the Jumeau 201, an extremely rare little girl, brought the hammer down at over $200,000.00. The variety, thought, was staggering, and here are some other results.

1. 22 inch rare, K*R 107 in an antique costume, black suit and white tie shirt, brought $37,500.00.

2. A darling size 000 Schmitt et Fils young lady sold for $14,000.

3. A Door of Hope Chinese bride in a fantastically detailed costume brought $19,000.00.
Door of Hope Bride, Theriault's and ADC

4. An early 14 inch Jules Steiner bebe realized  $6,750.

5. A super rare Van Rozen gentleman, 15 inches, brought $15,000.

6.  A size 3 Bru Jne, 14 inches, brought $23,000.
Bru Jne 3 Theriault's and ADC

From Robert Tonner's collection, vintage doll enthusiasts found:

7. "Judy" by Madame Alexander, 20 inches, hard plastic from mystery series, $5,750.  This is a very healthy price for a vintage doll, so naysayers on the vintage doll market, take note.

8. The ever popular #1 Barbie with blonde ponytail, all original, brought $4,200.

We eagerly await the results of the upcoming Cotillion Auction by Theriault's, January 10 and 11.