The Austin Doll Collectors Society is an organization of antique, vintage, and modern doll collectors, dealers, and artisans. We meet on the first Monday of each month and our meetings are fun and educational. We begin with refreshments and socializing, and, following our brief business meeting, there is a special doll-related program and "show and tell." The Austin Doll Collectors Society is a nonprofit organization and is a member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 2, 2015, meeting

 The refreshment table was pretty in pink, with a timely Valentine theme.

Member Sharon Weintraub did a program on frankendolls and other fakes.  Sharon explained that a "frankendoll" is new doll cobbled together out of old antique doll parts and broken figurines excavated from the massive dumps behind the former doll factories in the Thuringia area of Germany, such as Hertwig and Company and Limbach. She said that like Frankenstein's monster, these creations are created from buried parts and brought back to "life."   The photograph in the center was taken at a 2014 German doll fair showing a table full of newly created frankendolls.  The larger dolls around the edge of the picture are all frankendolls, while the two small dolls in crocheted clothing are authentic antiques by Hertwig and Company.

Sharon warned the members that some frankendolls are often being offered as rare antique dolls. She said such dolls are not antique, but are new dolls made out of old disparate parts.The dolls are are fantasy pieces that look nothing like the dolls actually produced by German factories.  The little black cat in the crocheted dress is an antique and scarce all-bisque doll by Hertwig.  The doll next to it is a frankendoll, its felt costume hiding the mismatched parts.  The largest doll demonstrates the poorly matched parts, typical of frankendolls.  The little brown and white cat is an antique nodder whose head may have served as the model for the head of frankendoll next to it.  Sharon noted that the same heads keep appearing on the frankendolls, and that they are often of better bisque and decoration than the rest of the doll.  She told the members that she suspected that the most popular heads were being reproduced, so that a frankendoll may not even be entirely of old excavated parts.  The two large cat dolls have their swivel heads attached to the bodies by a piece of wire coming out the top of the head.  Sharon stated that authentic antique all-bisque dolls never had their heads attached this way, so this is one sign of a frankendoll.

Sharon explained that another series of fakes coming out of Germany are new all-bisque dolls dressed in vintage-looking and sold as antiques, often attached to their "original" sample cards or boxes.  These dolls are sold as old salesman's samples, warehouse finds or forgotten stock.  The pair on the display card are modern fakes, and the standing doll is an authentic antique.

Sharon told the members that although the modern dolls are well made, one "give-away"is the facial painting.  They tend to have ill-fitting glass eyes, giving them a bug-eyed look, and spiky eyelashes that splay away from the eyes like bicycle spokes.  Below is a comparison of the facial painting of the modern and antique dolls.

Sharon told the club that another fake all-bisque doll coming out of Germany is a mold number 292 googly with huge oversized eyes. These dolls often come dressed in cute outfits made from vintage-looking fabrics and sometimes are sold in their "original" boxes or tied to their "original" display cards; the dolls have been sold to collectors as antiques, some for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. These dolls look nothing like the authentic antique 292 all-bisque German googly dolls.  Although the antique 292 models have big googly glass eyes, the eyes are still in proportion with their chubby faces. They also have pudgy toddler bodies and molded socks with Mary Jane shoes.  The dolls on the ends are authentic antique 292 googly dolls, while the doll in the certain represents the 292 imposter (this particular doll is a copy made by talented Canadian doll artist Deb Holt).

Sharon told members that yet another group of reproductions is coming out of Belgium, made by Mundial Company, which does business under the name Keralouve.  She said that although the company no longer makes all-bisque dolls, it still produces bathing beauties and half dolls.  The products, which are not marked by Mundial, have turned up at antiques markets throughout Europe and the United States, where they are often misrepresented as antique.  The quality of a Mundial copy is typically far below that of the antique original, but is good enough to fool many dealers and collectors who have not had a chance to see the authentic antique.  Below is an antique bisque lady by Schafer and Vater in the foreground and the Mundial copy behind it.