May 21, 2016 “Half Dolls” by Linda C.
Photos and Summary by Pat D.
We had to wait over a year for Linda’s program, as our meeting and her program last year were postponed due to snow and ice. But was it ever worth the wait! Her amazing collection was displayed among twinkling tea lights, with some dolls even displayed in a lovely doll house. Linda’s love of miniatures showed through with her beautiful half dolls. Several other members brought their lovely half dolls to share in the display. Linda complemented her display with information boards and a terrific PowerPoint program, where she explained the history, manufacturers, size definition, a variety of uses of these dolls and so much more. What a treat! Thank you Linda!
(For Cleveland Doll Club Members only)
Half dolls are just that–generally, the upper half of a human figure, without legs. Half dolls were produced without legs so that they could be attached to something useful–very commonly, pin cushions, but also wisk brooms, tea cozies, and numerous things that could grace a ladies dressing table, such as powder boxes.
The vast majority of Half Dolls were produced between 1900 and the 1920s, although some were produced earlier than that and some later. Most half dolls are between 2 and 6 inches tall, although there are smaller and also a few larger examples. Half dolls are generally made of porcelain (glazed bisque, sometimes called china) although there are also models made in unglazed bisque. Half dolls have also been made out of composition, wax, and many other materials.
Some of the most beautiful porcelain half dolls were produced in Germany. One of the first pottery companies to produce the half doll was the popular German Pottery company “Dressel” & “Kister”, which was located in Passau, a town that is located in Lower Bavaria, Germany. Artists used portraits of their subjects to create personal half dolls, they also produced half dolls in the likenesses of on legendary characters from history, and the theater. The German half dolls stood to show the great skills of the doll artists, with delicately sculptured hands, arms, and tiny waists. The dolls were faultless, showing minute lines on the palm of the hands, and wonderful facial expression.
Half dolls are often found unmarked, marked Germany or “Made in Germany”, or with a four or five digit mold number. Models from Japan can be marked “Japan” or “Made in Japan.” Only a few companies such as Dressel and Kister and Goebel would sometimes mark half dolls with their company’s distinctive mark.
The half dolls were produced by the thousand in Germany by firms such as Dressel & Kister, F. W. Goebel, Ernst, Bohne & Sohne, Heubach, Hertwig, Karl Schnider and many others. Later in the early 1900s France, Japan, and America pottery companies produced their own lines of half dolls. Although, in the world of collectors, no other country produced as fine of a half doll as Germany.
Gentlemen also made good use of the half dolls, mostly in the form of a lint broom. The half dolls fashioned for the gentleman, would have more masculine motifs. As a rule the motif would be that of animals, such as rabbits, cats, dogs, birds, and soldiers.
Today’s Prices of Half Dolls: Simple, crudely painted half dolls from Japan or Germany with close arms (see below) are priced at no more than $20 to $30. A good German half doll with arms away or nice detailing and clothing can be valued at $100 to $300+; half dolls with elaborate hair and rare accessories can bring several hundred dollars; elaborate, rare Dressel & Kister or Ernst, Bohn & Sohne half dolls can be several thousand dollars. Chocolate ladies on the market can vary from $400 to $2000+ depending on the maker.
The half doll on the left side is an ORIGINAL Ernst Bohne & Söhne doll, while the doll on the right side in the photo is a modern REPRODUCTION produced in Thuringia, most likely made from a still existing Ernst Bohne & Söhne mold. The latter one is showing up with a faked CV (Closter Veilsdorf) mark. Even though of good quality, it is quite easy to see that the doll on the right side shows a modern painting.
The half doll in a white dress is a recent reproduction, obviously made from still existing EBS molds. Some of these modern reproductions are showing up with the mark of KARL ENS (windmill and lettering). Others have a faked impressed CV mark and are sold as half dolls made by the porcelain manufactory “Closter Veilsdorf”. BEWARE!