Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How Antique Ball Jointed Bodies have Influenced Modern Ball Jointed Dolls: Dolls “Strung Out!”

Belinda,  Doll with Metal and Wooden Body, Including Steel Joints
, She may be French. 

I’ve always thought stringing doll bodies was like stringing beads, except the “threads” or elastics don’t seem to work the way you want them to. Yet, the innovations that allowed jointed doll bodies and ball-jointed doll bodies revolutionized the 19th century doll industry around the world.  In fact, that technology affected dolls in the 20th and 21st centuries.  The new interest in BJD or ball jointed dolls, and jointed dolls in general,  is an example in how antique dolls influence the creation of modern dolls.

Jumeau Reclame Body with jointed elbows.  Tsagaris collection.

While this humble post is not meant to be the last word on doll bodies, it is meant to make antique doll collectors aware of why their treasures are relevant even in the modern doll world.  This post is also meant to inspire new collectors and modern doll collectors to take another look at antique dolls’ bodies so they understand the artistry, history, and  cultural impact of their own dolls.

Overview:  Jointed dolls, and of course, puppets and marionettes with joints, date to ancient times.  The shadow puppets prominent in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic are clay figures with jointed arms. Early Greek and Roman dolls were jointed, sometimes at the elbow and knee.  Jointed dolls of clay have been found in pre-Columbian American archeological sites.  Some of the dolls found from Peru are made of gold and silver, yet are still jointed.

The Colemans write in The Collectors’ Encyclopedia of Dolls, Vol, I, that in the early 19th century “peg wooden” doll bodies were among types used.  I note that peg wooden dolls are jointed at the elbow and knee.

While many doll makers took out patents for all kinds of bodies (81), the Colemans observe that jointed composition bodies gained momentum during the 1880s (81).  It is with these types of jointed bodies that I am concerned; I think that they are the ancestors of the modern dolls with jointed bodies.  Interestingly enough, rivet joints on doll bodies, the type found on teddies some stuffed dolls and animals even today, became competition for the ball jointed composition bodies (81).  Allegedly, some makers combined the techniques involved to create a new type of body for a toddler doll (81). Take out your copy of Volume I to read an intriguing anecdote about how a doll came to have several replaced parts during her “lifetime.”

Arm of Figure A Steiner showing joint. Tsagaris collection.

Soon ball jointed bodies were created; they soon gained popularity because dolls could be posed realistically.  The Colemans’ explanation of what a ball joint is serves very nicely as a definition for our purposes: “A ball joint was composed of a ball (usually wooden) and two adjacent sockets strung with elastic or a metal spring to permit the doll joint to move in all directions” (46).

What I find interesting is the observation that wooden dolls ball joints, even ball jointed waists,  were made “at least as early as the 18th century” (Coleman 46).

According to the Colemans, American doll makers took an initial interest in how to make doll joints with patents by Charles Louis Parent, Joel Ellis and others obtaining patents for doll bodies (327).

Then, during the 1870s, Bru and Charles Parent began “experimenting with ball jointed composition bodies” and by the 1880s, dolls with such bodies were sold as “Bebe Incassable) (46). Soon, German doll competitors began creating similar bodies.

An untinted bisque head with lovely glass eyes, ill. 894 in Coleman, Vol. I, has a”ball and socket”neck joint, which allows her head to turn in any directions (327).  Variations of this type of joint were used on many of my childhood dolls from the 60sand 50s, and earlier dolls than that had them as well.

American manufacturers followed suit when World War interrupted the doll making industry.  They often made improvements to the dolls’ hip joints; doll bodies of this type were the make of wood, metal, bisque, stiffened fabric, and celluloid, but the list is not inclusive (46).

The Colemans illustrate a doll by Vve. [widow] Clement on p. 157 of Volume I that has jointed elbows and knees. The body bears her stamp. One Pierre Clement, perhaps related to the Widow, claimed he made “fine jointed dolls in natural leather” (156).

Joel Ellis:  I wrote about Ellis in my book on metal dolls because he used metal hands and feet on his dolls.   His dolls area also jointed at the elbows, hips, and knees.  I have seen modern Barbie dolls jointed in a similar fashion, as well as miniature wooden dolls by the Silvestri Company, famous for holiday décor.  (I am partial to Silvestri; my husband’s grandfather created Christmas décor for them).

Courtesy, Theriault’s

Joints of Joel Ellis Doll. Tsagaris collection.  Photo courtesy paintmiata54.

The Jointed Doll Co. under Dexter and Frank D. Martin made wooden dolls similar to those by Ellis between 1874-75.  For more on Ellis and these types of dolls, see Miriam Formanek-Brunell’s book, Made to Play House.

12 inch Martin dolls were jointed at the neck, shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees (Coleman 325). They are similar to Mason & Taylor dolls.

                                            Joel Ellis Doll,  Tsagaris collection.  Photo courtesy paintmiata54.

Schoenhut:  I wrote about Schoenhut dolls in my book With Love from Tin Lizzie because they often have metal spring joints.  Ills. 1473A & B in Coleman, Vol. I who a Schoenhut male “Manikin” doll that is completely jointed and poseable.   A bent limb all wooden baby by Schoenhut has jointed elbows and knees.  See Ill. 1478 at p. 557. Albert Schoenhut was granted his patent for “swivel, spring-jointed” dolls in1911. 

Schoenhut Ad, Piano, and other metal toys and dolls  on Display at German American Heritage Center. Tsagaris Collection.

There are many great books on Schoenhut dolls, and good websites, for those who want to know more.

Bucherer & Cie of  Switzerland also made metal dolls with ball jointed bodies, some in regional costumes, from 1921-1935.  They made dolls in sizes 6 to 9.5 inches in 160 different characters.  They remind me of the modern Mego character action figures of the

Bucherer Man , displayed with other Metal dolls, photo by Jerry Lowe.
Tsagaris Collection

1970s and 80s that often were jointed at the knees. They were marked “Made in Switzerland Patents Applied for (Doll Reference).

  Interesting Old Wooden Doll showing joints.  Tsagaris collection.

Jill by Vogue:

She was one of several 50s dolls, some by other makers, too, with jointed knees and complete wardrobes.

Cissy, Cissette, 8inch Alexanders: I have a small fortune invested in the tiny rubber bands used in orthodontists’ offices.  I use them to put my 8 inch Alexanders back together.  Once, before my Beth could be repaired, I sketched her and won honorable mention a high school art contest.  I entered her in the Exploded View category.

Cissy and Cissette are, of course, also jointed dolls that can be posed and that have many costume changes.

Dollikin:  Uneeda made this fully articulated, 19-20 inch hard plastic doll with a vinyl head in the 1950s.  These dolls made between 1958-62 had 16 joints and were marked “UNEEDA 2s” on the back of the head.  In 1958, a 14 inch version called “The Squirt” by collectors appeared, marked “Uneeda” with the copyright symbol. A smaller version in hard plastic and vinyl wearing a colorful jumpsuit and boots was introduced during the 1970s.  This doll is around 12 inches high.   22 inch Baby Dollikin arrived in 1958-59. 
Little Miss Dollikin was made during the 1980s, and was only 6.5 inches tall.

These are not the only jointed dolls made during the 50s and 60s.  The Capezio Ballerina was jointed at the knees, as were other ballerina dolls with hard plastic bodies and vinyl heads.  NIADA artist Judith Condon made dolls in different sizes of porcelain that were fully jointed, even at their swivel waists.

 Metal Dolls and parts showing joints.  Dolls are all metal.  Tsagaris collection.

Modern BJD Companies:

The history of modern ball jointed dolls [BJD],aka, Asian Ball Jointed Dolls [ABJD] is rooted in both Japanese and European doll making tradition.  Other Asian countries also have produced articulated and ball jointed dolls and puppets. Here is a brief history:

The history of commercially produced Asian resin BJDs began in 1999 when the Japanese company Volks created the Super Dollfie line of dolls. The first Super Dollfie were 57 cm tall, strung with elastic, ball-jointed, and made of polyurethane resin; similar to garage kits, which were Volks main product at the time. Super Dollfie were made to be highly customizable and to find a female market for Volks products.[6][7][8] See further: Super Dollfie History.
The earliest Asian BJDs were influenced by the anime aesthetic.[1][4] The early, prominent BJD companies Volks, Cerberus Project[9] with the Delf line, as well as the Japanese artist Gentaro Araki with the U-noa line,[6] all have backgrounds in anime-style resin figure kits.
Around 2002–2003, South Korean companies started creating and producing BJDs. Customhouse[10] and Cerberus Project were among the first Korean BJDs companies, and since then the Korean market has expanded with many more.
The earliest Chinese produced BJDs were knockoffs. Some were direct recasts, while others were slight modifications of Super Dollfie or Korean BJDs. These knockoffs were made of plaster, low quality resin or polystone — a mix of resin and a filler material like sand. They were low in price, but not very durable.[11] The first Chinese company to release their own original BJD sculpts in high quality polyurethane resin was Dollzone. Their dolls hit the market in 2006.[12] Since then, several other Chinese companies followed suit, putting their own BJD creations on the international market. (Wikipedia)
The first American company to produce a BJD with more of an American aesthetic influence was Goodreau Doll[13] in 2007.[14]

Modern BJDs are influenced by Anime and Manga art, and some resemble Sailor Moon or Takara Barbie dolls.  They are often meant to be customized and can be used for role play and for photography. An 11 inch Dollfie example in my collection is made of pink polyurethane resin and is fully articulated.  The face is unpainted, and the doll has no wig. 

Many groups and conventions exist that feature them.   Most sources indicate that these dolls are aimed at an adult collector’s market.  Some are anatomically correct; they range from around $35.00 for mini varieties to over $100 for 24 inch examples. 

Dream of Doll is just one site dedicated to these dolls, and features amazing shoes, jewelry, heads, wigs, and clothing.

Other jointed dolls:   Pullip, Marie Osmond, Monster High, Ever After:

Eco Warriors are made of recycled plastics, and are ball jointed dolls, around 12 inches high.  They are part of trend that makes these dolls more accessible, with some, like Monster High, Ever After High and certain Barbies available for children, too. Earlier Barbies from the 60s and 70s had “twist n turn waists” that allowed the doll to swivel Marie Osmond has created some ball jointed dolls with large, anime style heads and big eyes.

Jointed dolls have been popular with doll lovers throughout the centuries because they can be posed and dressed in so many ways.  The spark the collector’s imagination, and make the itself more interesting.  While modern BJDs and jointed dolls will continue to be popular, let’s not forget their origins lie with antique dolls.

Monster High Doll posed to show articulation.  Courtesy, Mikki Brantley.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

June Sneak Peek!

June 2016 Cover
We are delighted to once again share with you dolls from the collection of Alf Ertsland and Svein Hellberg. Character boy dolls at play seem to come alive in this pictorial review. With a discriminating eye, they look for dolls in the same size range with original or antique clothing. 
Jennifer Craft-Hurst began a collection of original early photographs of dolls when she purchased two Steiff dolls which sold with a photo of the original owner in German traditional dress. Little girls and their special doll friends … you will cherish these moments preserved in time.
Russian dolls in colorful dress with terracotta heads  were likely produced from Kammer and Reinhardt or Simon Halbig molds. Dolls from the collections of the author, Linda Holderbaum, and Rosemary Deal are featured. Dressed in peasant type outfits with multiple layers of clothing, you’ll learn about the various types of clothing worn during the 1920’s and 30’s. 
An American Art doll created to display high end designer fashions is the subject of a fascinating article by Ann Coleman.  The brain child of textile historians and artists working at the Brooklyn Museum, now the Brooklyn Museum of Art, where Ann worked as department head for textile and costume, she shares this unusual find. 
It was a wonderful auction experience. Elaine Wade was captivated by a china only to discover that she had a twin sister, one whose head contained an old written note stating that the two dolls were sent home during the war between the states for the two daughters of Captain John Mickle. You’ll enjoy this exciting adventure!
Columbus, Ohio was the setting for the April 16 and 17 NADDA show, deemed a mini-UFDC convention by attendees. Fabulous dolls of all types along with photos of the NADDA dealers will make you wish you were there!
Happy Collecting!
P.S. Please visit www.antiquedollcollector.com to take a brief survey which will help us to serve you better.
Antique Doll Collector, P.O. Box 239, Northport, NY 11768
Call us Toll Free at 888-800-2588
Email: antiquedoll@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

An Interview with Rebekah Kaufman

Rebekah Kaufman giving appraisals on cloth stuffed toys

When did you start collecting?

My passion for collecting dolls and bears spans over half a century.  There’s a photo of me at 4 hours old in my Mom’s bed, reaching for a Teddy bear that was only a few inches out of my reach.  My favorite childhood doll, who still keeps me company in my study, is a 1967 Mattel African American “Thumbelina.”  When you pull her string, her head rotates like a real baby.  My paternal Grandmother was a collector, and even though we did not see each other often, I fondly recall talking about dolls and bears with her on our occasional trips across the country to visit her in California.  Today, and I am the proud steward of many of her childhood treasures. 

What are some of your favorite dolls in your collection?

Although I own a few vintage Sasha and Terri Lee dolls, Steiff dolls are by far my favorites. I own about 40 pre-1950 Steiff dolls.  Most are felt; my animal-dolls are mohair and felt. Steiff’s early dolls are very hard to find in good or better condition, so there is a real sense of accomplishment when I welcome a new addition to the collection.  The felt dolls are rare for two key reasons.  First, Steiff’s heyday doll period really only lasted for a few decades at the turn of last century, and not that many were made over this short period of time.  And second, few survive because of their material, which tends to invite insect damage even under the best circumstances. 

The quality and workmanship of Steiff’s early dolls and their clothing is always extraordinary.  Regardless of their detailing, the company’s pre-war all seem to have a playful softness, innocence, or youthfulness to them… even the company’s soldiers and policemen. 

Steiff from the Rebekah Kaufman Collection

Steiff from the Rebekah Kaufman Collection

My favorite dolls.

My prewar Steiff doll collection includes a few favorite categories, including  “men in uniforms,” children dolls, storybook figures, and animal-dolls.  Here are my favorites from each category - at least as of today!

“Men in Uniforms”:  

Steiff’s 30 cm “Boyscout Bob,” gets my salute in this category. His head and friendly face are detailed with black button eyes, large ears, hand painted facial features, and painted brown hair. He wears black lace up boots made from oilcloth; blue and black wool knitted legwarmer socks; blue felt shorts; a real brown leather belt with a metal buckle; a beige felt collared shirt with pockets and epaulets; and a matching beige felt hat with a leather chin strap.  When he was new, he had a long wooden staff in his right hand. He was produced in this size only from 1909-1919 as an exclusive for the British market; his outfit exactly matches those worn by British Boy Scouts during the time of his production.  

Steiff from the Rebekah Kaufman Collection

Children dolls:  

Head of the class goes to this 28 cm “Alida” Dutch girl.  She was made from 1909-1919 in 28, 35, 43, and 50 cm; her blue and black glass pupil eyes suggest she was made in the middle to the end of this time frame.  Alida is cataloged in reference books as "felt, jointed, Dutchwoman, original costume, Sunday best." By "original costume" Steiff means that their dolls are dressed in apparel that is traditional to a country - in this case, the Netherlands.  And by "Sunday best", that would imply "fancier" clothing for going to Church on Sunday, which makes sense in the case of Alida given her elaborately embroidered dress bodice and red cuffs.

Storybook dolls:  

One selection in this category has always dwarfed all the others.  My favorite here is a little man named Puck.  Puck is 20 cm and is very charismatic for his size. His face is detailed with shiny black eyes; a comical, round nose; an open, smiling mouth; ruddy cheeks, large ears; and a very long, white mohair beard.  He has large, clown-like felt hands and very skinny fabric legs.  His clothes, which are integral to his body, consist of a light blue felt jacket, a brown felt shirt, and blue and white cotton calico pants.  He dons a triangular shaped yellow mohair hat.  He has proportionally very large feet and is wearing denim blue colored fabric boots. Puck was produced in 20, 30, and 40 cm from 1914-1943.  The smallest size Puck was often pictured in company literature at the helm of a wooden cart pulled by four tiny Steiff rabbits or ducks.  

Steiff from the Rebekah Kaufman Collection

Animal dolls: 

I think Steiff’s delightful vintage “pupp-animals” are the best of all worlds.  These animal dolls, had the heads of popular Steiff characters, the bodies of dolls, and carefully tailored outfits. My favorite here is this 22 cm pug dog doll. His arms hang softly at his sides, and he has flat feet for standing. Pug's head, ears, and the tops of his hands and feet are (or in this case were) made from mohair. His body is made from a tan linen fabric. He is filled both with soft stuffing and crunchy excelsior. His head and face come to life with floppy ears, oversized black and brown glass pupil eyes, a black hand embroidered nose, a pink mouth, and a distinct brown inset muzzle area.  He is dressed in brown cotton pants, a tan checked shirt, and a light grey-blue felt tam-o-shanter style hat. This dog doll was made in 14, 22, and 28 cm from 1932-1935. Each size came in six different clothing styles, which included pajamas, swimsuits, dresses, and play suits.   

Have your tastes changed over the years?

Yes, for better or worse, they have evolved towards more expensive, harder to find dolls.  I also am much more sensitive to condition than I was in the past.  I think that happens a lot with enthusiasts who have had the pleasure of collecting and studying a category closely over a long period of time.    

What are the characteristics that attract you to a certain doll? 

I like dolls (and most things as well) that have a quirky or playful nature to them.  These always make me laugh, and I love to laugh (and make others laugh as well.) That probably explains why Bob, Puck, and the pug doll are favorites.  I also love dolls that have a great story or provenance to them.  For example, Alida was given to her previous owner in the 1930’s by friends of her parents after their invalid daughter (born in the early 1920's) died. And, I often name new additions to my collections after their first owners, in order to keep their spirit alive.  

Do you sew for your dolls?

Gosh no. I can’t even make toast! I sincerely admire those collectors who do sew for their dolls.  Several of my colleagues from Doll Study Club of Boston and Doll Collectors of America make the most outstanding outfits for their dolls; their work is truly museum quality.   

Are you looking for anything in particular?

If I had an audience with Santa or FAO Schwarz, I would ask for three things.  The first would be a 1921-1927 Steiff “Aprico-Process” doll, complete with its bearhead pendant.  These dolls were designed by Steiff freelancer Albert Schlopsnies are are seldom if ever seen on the secondary market - if anywhere - because of their rarity and fragility.  The second would be a Steiff Shockheaded Peter doll; these were made from 1909-1927.  Steiff did a great job capturing the essence of this favorite literary character down to his long leather fingernails - which are just mind-blowing.  And finally, I would treasure one of Steiff’s earliest fully jointed pupp-dolls, including a Bully the Bulldog doll, Charly the King Charles Spaniel Doll, or Treff, the Bloodhound doll.  Each were produced in 28 cm from 1929-1930.  I have had the pleasure of cataloging and valuing a Bully doll for a client, and seeing a Charly doll at auction.  I have never actually handled a Treff doll, so maybe he’d be the one I would request.     

Anything else?

I feel truly blessed that I have been able to make my hobby my vocation on many levels.  I am very grateful for the people, companies, and organizations who have helped make that possible over time.  There are no greater pleasures for me than talking to another enthusiasts about their passions, helping collectors find items on their wish lists, or lovingly managing the collection re-homing process.  My work at Morphy’s, Steiff, and through my blog, which can be found at http://mysteifflife.blogspot.com, makes this all possible.  

About Rebekah

Rebekah's passion became her vocation for several years when she had the pleasure of working for the US division of Margarete Steiff GmbH as the Steiff Club Manager.  Today, she consults for the company as their archivist, where she leads company-sponsored collector's events around the country, participates in product development efforts, and authenticates and values vintage Steiff treasures on behalf of the company.   She is also the Steiff and Fine Plush Expert at Morphy Auctions in Denver, PA, where she works with the company’s world-class doll team to obtain, identify, value, and catalog Steiff, R. John Wright, and other fine toy treasures.  

Rebekah is a contributor to collector and industry print publications, including Teddy Bear and Friends, Doll Reader, Doll News, Antique Doll Collector, and the global Steiff Club Magazine, which is translated into six languages.  She has consulted for TV networks including HGTV, CBS (Inside Edition), History.com (Pawn Stars), and E! Entertainment (Clean House).  She was featured on a primetime German television program on the history and collectability of Steiff items which aired over 50 times. Rebekah has been an invited guest on radio and video programs for the Antiques Auction Forum, Gemr, Ruby Lane, Auctionata, The Collector's Show, and Harry Rinker's Whatcha Got, among others. She acts as a go-to resource for industry, auction houses, and the media; her engagements have included R. John Wright, The Den of Marbletown, Teddy Dorado, Theriault's Antique Doll Auctions, James D. Julia, FAO Schwarz, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg, Town and Country, and The Huffington Post.

Rebekah's first book, Sassafrass Jones and Her Forever Friends ABCs, features vintage Steiff as an integral part of the storyline.  It was co-authored by Cathleen Smith-Bresciani, a fellow Steiff enthusiast.  The book, ISBN #978-0-578-15002-4, is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Rebekah truly leads "The Steiff Life."