In England from quite early times leather vessels were used very generally. The black jack was a kind of leather pitcher or jug always lined with pitch on metal, of massive and sturdy build, corpulent and capacious. It quite dwarfed all rival pots, mugs, or pitchers of leather. Pictured right: A Charles II Silver-Mounted Leather Blackjack Jug Unmarked, Circa 1682. The silver rim with hatched lappets, the front with oval silver plaque pinned on below the spout which is inscribed The Gift of George Barteram to Abigail 1682 11 in. (28 cm.) high. Sold for £2,750 at Christies, London, March 2009. Image Copyright Christies. In the fifteenth century they were called ” jacks ” ; New College, Oxford, in 1414 pur-chased ” four leather jacks two holding a gallon each and two a pottle each, the four costing four shillings and eightpence.” The vessels were not known as black jacks till the sixteenth century, being occasionally described before then as ” Jacke of leather to drinke in.” The word jack was used for various articles—there were ” kitchen jacks” to turn the roasting spits, and leather coats were ” jacks of defence.” This defensive coat was known in England for several centuries as “the jack,” and when adopted by the French archers was called ” jaque d’Anglois ” ; the prefix ” black ” was no doubt added to the drinking jack to distinguish it from this leather jerkin, which would generally be made of buff leather and as a rule of lighter colour ; the vessels were not known as “black jacks” jacks till the sixteenth century, the full title was used in 1567 when Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, purchased a black jack for one shilling. Pictured left: A William And Mary Leather And Silver-Mounted Black Jack, Circa 1690 Of tapering form 7½ in. (18.5 cm.) high. Sold for £1,375 ($1,907) at Christies, London, January 2009. Image Copyright Christies. The black jack was a feature of the cellars, butteries, and dining halls of our ancient hospitals, colleges and grammar schools till modern times. The chief reason for its survival in such places is that the jack was essentially a vessel for the refec-tory or the baronial hail; it held a high place while the ancient mode of living prevailed, and every man of substance took his meals in his hall with his family and servants. When more luxurious fashions came in and the lord took his meals privately in parlour or dining room, the leathern pot re-mained in the servants’ hall with the excep-tion of those that were silver mounted. These latter were small as a rule and more richly treated; they were edged with silver and often lined with that metal or with pewter in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and were highly prized. There exist to-day (mostly in private collections) quite a number of these silver mounted jacks; they were more numerous than the plain ones. They no doubt owe their preserva-tion to the fact of their greater value and the ornamental treat-ment and extra beauty of work-manship bestowed upon them. Jacks were not rimmed or lined with silver from a fastidious dislike to drinking from leather, for jugs and cups of various materials, earthenware, wood, coconut vessels and even china were habitually so mounted. Pictured right: Doulton Lambeth Black Jack Leather Silver Rim Beer Pitcher Motto Jug 1880s. Sold For Us $425.00 Approximately £271.05 on ebay, April 2012. The black jack did not require a lid and was seldom made with one, but occasionally lidded ones are mentioned in old inventories. At the Guildhall Museum there is an interesting jack which has a curious lid of leather, but it is obviously an addition that was made at a remote period in the jack’s history. The lid not only covers the top but reaches nearly an inch down the sides ; it was a hinge of iron which has a long strap over the lid itself in which is a thumb-piece to enable the person holding the ack to raise the lid with the same hand. Sometimes a wooden lid was used attached to the handle by a leather strap by means of which it could be fastened down to a buckle on the spout. It is probable that ]acks with lids were used when it was necessary to fetch drink from a distance, not every village having an alehouse. Besides the wooden cups, which were so numerous in past times, cups of horn, pots of pewter and other metals, would all compete with leathern mugs, and help to render them unnecessary. By the middle of the seventeenth century many of these were in general use and the necessity for leather pots of small size would not be great ; records of them are scarce. Pictured left: Doulton Lambeth Blackjack jug “The Landlords Caution”. Made from stoneware that’s impressed with leather when still wet and then fired. It gives a very convincing leather effect that’s complete with stitching detail and grain. 7 1/2″ tall and 7″ spout to handle. The jug has the words from the poem “The Landlords Caution” “THE MALTSTER HAS SENT HIS CLERK – AND YOU MUST PAY THE SCORE – FOR IF I TRUST MY BEER – WHAT SHALL I DO FOR MORE” written about it in an unordered way. I believe the idea is that as long as the landlord hasn’t drunk too much of his own product he should be able to work out the order (as a former Landlord I can relate!). This particular jug was stamped as made for Sidney W Allen of 39 White Rock, Hastings. It also has a Doulton Lambeth stamp as well as Doulton and Slaters patent stamp. Sold for £65 on ebay, April 2012. The warden of Win-chester College in 1897 remembered that when he was a boy at school the black jacks were in daily use, the beer being brought into Hall in them and transferred to pew-ter mugs. Thomas Tusser, the author of” Five Hundred […]
When considering the work of Ettore Sottsass, the greatest Italian designer of the first half century, you have to understand the meaning of his work as well as the design concept.
Unlike us, bears have discovered the enviable secret of eternal youth. An eighty-eight-year-old Rupert? Ridiculous! A seventy-eight-year-old Mary Plain? Unthinkable! An eighty-eight-year-old Pooh? Preposterous. And as for a fifty-year-old Paddington – you must be joking! How can a bear who creates mischief and mayhem wherever he goes – admittedly a bear whose sole aim in life is to be helpful and polite, but who is unfortunately accident prone, impulsive and always in deep trouble – be well on the way to collecting his bus pass? Bears always find an age with which they are comfortable and stick to it. So, believe it or not, Paddington really does celebrate his fiftieth birthday this year. Pictured left: Paddington Bear by Gabrielle No doubt he will be hosting a party with an iced cake cooked by Mrs Bird, buns and cocoa donated by Mr Gruber, and a ‘here’s one I made earlier’ wobbly jelly from the Blue Peter team. (For many years, Paddington was a regular in the Blue Peter studio.) Of course, there will be a huge pile of sandwiches too, but the vital question is, will they be filled with marmalade – or Marmite? Up until recently, the choice of filling would have been a forgone conclusion, but suddenly our loveable bear has developed a taste for the sticky brown stuff. Of course, he still loves marmalade very much. In fact, when Paddington was first approached by the advertising company he exclaimed, “But I always have marmalade in my sandwiches!” The agency explained, “That’s exactly why we think you would be perfect for the campaign. We want people who normally have something different in their sandwiches to try Marmite.” Pictured right: Paddington Bear with Marmalade Hidden Treasures from Arora Design – each figurine has a secret compartment containing a hidden treasure. So, rather tentatively, Paddington took a sniff, and then a nibble, and finally a big bite. He discovered that he enjoyed Marmite very much indeed, and though it could never really replace his beloved marmalade, it certainly made a jolly acceptable change. The pigeons and the ducks are not too sure, though, as can be seen in the adverts. Michael Bond is not too sure, either, and in a letter to The Times wrote, “Paddington likes his food and tries anything, but he would certainly never be weaned off marmalade”, saying that Paddington’s characteristics are “set in stone and you shouldn’t change them.” In the past he has always tried to avoid any hint of commercialising Paddington Bear, so he added darkly, “Now there’s no going back.” What actually is Marmite? Well, it’s a spread made from yeast extract, vegetable extract, salt and various spices and, as the adverts proclaim, ‘You either love it or hate it’. You certainly can’t be indifferent to that tangy, tongue numbing taste. Although Paddington has been weaned off the marmalade for a while to promote the new, squeezy Marmite, I’m sure it won’t be long before he reverts to his favourite marmalade chunks. A marmalade-free Paddington is about as unthinkable as a Paddington who has lost his duffel coat and floppy hat. When Michael Bond found a small toy teddy bear on a shelf in a London Store on Christmas Eve 1956, he decided to buy it as a present for his wife. He called the bear Paddington. Just for fun, he wrote some stories revolving around the bear, and after a few days realised he had a book on his hands. However, he admits that while he was writing he didn’t consciously set out to write a children’s book – which is good, because, as all Paddington enthusiasts know, the books are far too special to be the sole prerogative of youngsters. Eventually, the book was placed with William Collins and Sons (now HarperCollins), and illustrator Peggy Fortnum was commissioned to produce the delightful sketches which complemented the stories so well. ‘A Bear Called Paddington’ was published in 1958, and as we all know, the rest is history. Amazingly, the Paddington series of books have sold over thirty million copies world wide and have been translated into thirty languages. Pictured left: Paddington Bear by Steiff As the birthday bear’s big day approaches, as well as planning his party shopping list and putting both Marmite and marmalade at the top of it, how else will Paddington be celebrating? For starters, he will be starring in a new book, the first Michael Bond Paddington Bear book to be published for thirty years. Rumour has it that a mysterious stranger will cause Paddington to reflect where home really is – surely he won’t forsake 32 Windsor Gardens and return to darkest Peru? ‘Paddington Here and Now’ will be published in June, while in October, to commemorate the publication of that very first book, HarperCollins will issue a special anniversary edition of ‘A Bear Called Paddington’. And there’s more – in March, as part of World Book Day, a £1 read, ‘Paddington Rules the Waves’, will be amongst the titles on offer. There will be plenty of new Paddington Bear collectables and merchandise this year, too, including a new Steiff creation. As we all know, Paddington was first discovered by Mr and Mrs Brown on Paddington Station, hence his name. The optimistic little refugee was sitting hopefully on a suitcase containing his worldly goods, and Steiff have depicted him, carrying his case, in a limited edition of 1,500 pieces. This 11 inch tall Paddington wears a pale blue coat and is complete with a gold-plated button-in-ear. He is based on the FilmFair Paddington Bear from the television series, a super bonus for fans of the animated episodes. Other items include puzzles courtesy of Hausemann en Hotte/Falcon, while Robert Harrop has produced a gorgeous commemorative figurine of Paddington munching a marmalade sandwich (not a blob of Marmite in sight!). More planned Paddington releases include a commemorative coin, a pewter figurine, clothing, greetings cards, a cookery book and gift wrap, as well as a range of soft […]
Royal Dux Porcelain has been produced since 1853, in the small town of Duchcov, located about two hours to the North West of Prague, the capital city of the recently formed Czech Republic. From 1918 until December 31st 1992 the country was known as Czechoslovakia, situated behind the so called “Iron Curtain” from 1948 till 1990. As the Berlin Wall crumbled so did the hard line communist government in Czechoslovakia. The “Velvet Revolution” (so called because of its lack of blood-shed and violence) began in November 1989, in the streets of Prague, initiated by students, but supported by the entire country. In January of 1990 Vaclav Havel (the famous dissident writer) was elected president of a free Czechoslovakia. However, in the winter of 1992 the Czech and Slovak factions decided to split and form two separate countries, The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. This split has become known as the “Velvet Divorce”. Today the Czech Republic is a thriving country on the rocky road back to capitalism. Tourism is absolutely unbelievable, with millions of visitors per year. The country is very beautiful and full of historical buildings, castles and natural wonders with at least five different sites, (one of them being the city of Prague) protected by UNESCO. From Nazi occupation just before World War II, all the way through more than forty years of communist tyranny, the Royal Dux factory never stopped to produce the beautiful porcelain pieces, figures and figurines for which they are so famous. Now, no longer part of a huge government owned monopoly, Royal Dux Porcelain has now been fully privatized and is making great strides to return to its once impressive past. Although most “Westerners” don’t realize it, the short time span between World War I and World War II was all that was needed to give the Czechs a chance to become one of the five wealthiest and most industrialized countries in the world. This era is most often referred to as “The First Republic” and holds a fond place in the hearts of all Czechs. Before the Nazi invasion in 1938 the company had produced over 12,000 different molds and exported beautiful porcelain and faience figurines all around the world. The fall of the Iron Curtain has made it possible for all lovers of fine porcelain art to once again have access to the amazingly wide range of porcelain items that are produced at the Royal Dux factory. However the fall of the communist government in 1990 brought about many new and painful changes which have, at times put the company’s survival in peril. Changes in management and chaos followed the revolution and for a time no one was sure what was going to happen. With the lack of accountability always comes fraud and deception and the Royal Dux factory suffered its share. Huge amounts of inventory “mysteriously” disappeared to customers who just couldn’t be located and company assets went missing without a clue as to who could be the culprits. Now the company is in the hands of private owners who have an agenda to put the company back on its feet. The company is in the process of developing its own sales and marketing strategies, which until now were dictated by government owned trade and export companies located in Prague. At the present, some of the molds dating from before WWII are being brought out of the archives and being revamped for production. New decors and glazing techniques are being used, and the company is making plans to produce “Limited Edition” pieces and to begin concentrating more on the “Collectible” market. Fresh ideas are being examined by the new directors and those that are needed will be implemented as quickly as possible. With plans to attend this year’s “International Collectible Exposition” in Rosemont, Illinois, Royal Dux hopes to make a statement to collectors worldwide that Royal Dux porcelain, Royal Dux figurines, and Royal Dux figures will indeed take its rightful place among the world’s top collectibles. Royal Dux Porcelain Price Guide These three amazing Art Nouveau centers sold for 75,000 EUR at Balclis Auctions, Barcelona in 2013.
The Dean’s family had founded their book publishing business in 1711 and during the next 200 years or so, prospered greatly. In 1902, one of the Deans family, a certain Captain Henry Samuel Dean, together with a fellow director of the firm had produced a rag book. This was a fairly simple affair – a single colour print (except for the cover which had two colours) on calico. It had the benefit that when soiled by a child, it could be washed rather than expensively replaced. It was offered to the Edwardian nannies of the day at a cost of 5 shillings (between £40 and £50 today) and proved an instant success. On the back of this single marketing sample, The Dean’s Rag Book Company Ltd. was formed in 1903 with its manufacturing unit in Fleet Street, London. Diversification followed and rag books in all sizes were made – and in colour. Photograph Albums, postcard albums, cut-out doll sheets, kites, blow-up toys and rag dolls were just some items produced over the next ten years. At the outbreak of the First World War in September 1914, Dean’s, like many other firms in the burgeoning toy industry tried to make good the shortage of imported toys from Germany and Austria and in 1915, produced its ‘Kuddlemee’ catalogue which contained illustrations of 3 mohair bears. We know of no-one who has seen these bears in recent times. Pictured left is Master Bruno – c.1915. In 1917, moulded faced dolls were produced for the first time and over the next 20 years, the Dean’s Rag Book Company Ltd. grew to a position of prominence in the British toy industry. Character merchandise began to appear – Dismal Desmond in 1926, Mickey Mouse in 1930 and were followed by Pluto, Goofy, Lucky Oswald, Popeye and others. Pictured right are Mickey Mouse Toys from the 1930’s. Dean’s were involved in the war effort during World War II and it took some while to return to former glories. However, by 1954, the Dean’s range was once more comprehensive and now featuring bears and gollies as never before. Pictured left is Nigel – c.1937. The Company moved to Rye in Sussex in 1955 and in 1972, to Pontypool in South Wales. In the 1980s, the introduction of cheaper toys from the Far East made it impossible to to carry on as before. Pictured right is Welsh Lady – 1996. The husband and wife team of Neil and Barbara Miller who had bought the Company in 1988 began to introduce Limited Edition bears to their range in 1991 for the British market. (Some bears had been made earlier in the 1980s specifically for the U.S. market) The production of collector bears soon overtook toy production with the last rag book being produced in 1997. Pictured left is Harry, the 2012 Dean’s Club membership bear. Harry is in fact the 18th member of the Dean’s Collectors Club. Harry’s mohair is supplied by Schulte, and is specially commisioned for Dean’s. The mohair is a corn gold colour and has a ratinee finish which we think gives him much more character. He is fully jointed and has black eyes. His pads are made from a camel coloured suedette material and his right foot has the Dean’s Rag Book label and his certificate is numbered. The Millers, now aided by their son, Robin, have once more steered Dean’s to a position of prominence – this time in the Collector Bear market. Not only do the Miller family now design the range (Artist Showcase excepted), they also do their own photography, catalogues, brochures and now their Internet site themselves – a truly family concern. The Dean’s Collectors Club membership benefits include a copy of the current years Dean’s catalogue, a lapel pin, a pen, and regular magazines and updates.
Ewald Dahlskog (1894-1950) was a Swedish designer who has become known for his ceramic, glass work, pottery designs and his work in public buildings. His work is often minimalist and inspired by natural forms, which can be seen in his use of simple curves and muted colors. Dahlskog’s pieces are both beautiful and functional, and have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Ewald Dahlskog’s studied at Konstfack (University of Arts, Crafts and Designwork) from 1908 to 1912 and from 1913 to 1917 at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm. His work is deeply rooted in Swedish design traditions, which he combines with a modern sensibility. His pieces are both elegant and functional, and often incorporate natural forms into their design. Dahlskog’s use of simple curves and muted colors give his work a calming, tranquil feeling. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he is considered one of Sweden’s leading ceramicists. Ewald Dahlskog at the Kosta Boda factory Ewald Dahlskog worked at Swedish glassworks Orrefors Kosta Boda from 1926 to 1929, where he was an artistic assistant, during which time he radically transformed the production of art glass, using cut decoration in a new vigorous modern aesthetic. Whilst at Kosta he had joint exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city. He has designed many of the glassware pieces that are produced by the factory, and his work often reflects nature in its designs. His pieces often incorporate elements such as leaves and vines, and he strives to create shapes that are both organic and elegant. Ewald Dahlskog at the Bo Fajans factory After leaving Kosta, Dahlskog moved on to work at the Bo Fajans factory (Boberg Fajansfabrik AB in Gävle) in 1929. He remained at Bo Fajans for 21 years until his death in 1950. At Bo Fajans he continued to innovate creating high-quality ceramics in geometric designs inspired by nature. His work at Bo Fajans is considered to be some of his best, and his pieces are highly sought after by collectors. Dahlskog’s designs are often inspired by nature, and he strives to create shapes that are both organic and elegant. At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition, his designs were described as ‘functionalist’. The vases displayed showed highly ribbed surfaces reminiscent of electrcial transformers. The Scandinavian design philosophy was internationally recognized at the Exhibition. They were shown in London in 1931 and had a great influence on British designer Keith Murray (Keith Murray Designs for Life). As well as being a versatile designer Dahlskog is famed for his artistically designed inlays in public buildings, such as the 1924-1926 built Stockholm Konserthuset and the silent film palace and later revue theater Chinateatern 1926-1928 directly at Berzelii Park in the Norrmalm district was built in the center of the Swedish capital. His work has won many awards, and his pieces are collected by museums and private individuals all over the world. Related Ewald Dahlskog items on ebay Bowl at Met Museum
The 20th Century has been responsible for some of the greatest changes to the way we live our everyday lives. Fast moving technology gave us the invention of the radio at the beginning of the century to the ipod’s that we plug into today. Interior design has progressed from Formica to Ikea and ceramics from Midwinter to Moorcroft. But it is not just the products that are worthy of status, it is the talented designers that created them, without their initial vision and determination, these products would never have developed into reality and become such a huge part of the world we live in today. One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century was Andy Warhol. Born Andrew Warhola, in Pennsylvania USA to Czechoslovakian emigrant’s Ondrej and Julia Warhola, his date of birth still remains a bit of a mystery. Andy always claimed that his 1930s birth certificate had been forged, but we do know that he was born between 1928 and 1931. After graduating as a Batchelor of Fine Arts in 1949, Warhol shortened his name and started work as a commercial artist and illustrator for well-known publications like Vogue and Harpar’s Bazaar. Although foremost his career was as a commercial artist he was desperate to have his work taken seriously and to be seen as a “pure” artist. 1956 was a turning point in his career and already a well-established figure mixing with the elite in social circles, his fascination with fame, celebrities and youth led him into another period of his artistic life. Being obsessed with celebrities (as were most people in the 1960s) he began to paint the Hollywood screen idols. The image that is so recognisable as his work today is that of Marilyn Monroe, she was Warhol’s favourite model although he did not begin to paint her until after her death. Other Hollywood screen idols that he captured during the 1960s were Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. These paintings were so popular, celebrities endorsed them and each wanted to be painted by him. One of his most famous images is that of the Campbells Soup Tin. He saw the heavily advertised consumer images like the soup tin worthy subjects and was right to – as this particular image has become iconic, being re-produced on many products. The most well known “The Souper Dress.” Was marketed as a throwaway item. This outfit originally cost just $1.25, and featured Warhol’s soup can images which formed a huge part of the “Pop Art” culture. An extremely rare item that if you were to find one in good condition it could cost in the region of £700 to £1,200. Other commercial work produced during this period was Coke bottle tops, Brillo Soap Pads and Heinz Tomato Ketchup bottles. These commercial art images reflected the popular need for consumer mass production and Warhol’s ability to turn a mundane object into art thus ensuring his place in history as one of the founding members of the “Pop Art” culture. Over the course of his career he produced thousands of different pieces and had a team of employees who reproduced his work in his studio, which he named “The Factory”. The most common method used was silkscree n painting because his art could be reproduced time after time, turning “high art” into a form of mass production. Now anything adorning Warhol’s images is highly collected. Originals command serious money but modern day collectable items are more affordable. Most of his original works of art now sit in private collections or are on display in museums around the world. In Pittsburgh, USA is The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest American Art Museum to be dedicated to one single artists work. However, sometimes items do come up for sale. A “Little Electric Chair” pink acrylic silkscreen print sold at Christies Contemporary Art Auction in 2001. Its estimate was $430,000 to $575, 000 but it actually realised $2.3 million. There is something for everyone in the Warhol collecting world and you don’t have to spend a fortune on an original piece as there are many companies producing his products under licence. Crystal Impressions have a range of laser etched crystal blocks in their “Prestige and Special Editions” range, you can choose from Marilyn Monroe or Elvis to the commercial images of the Campbell Soup tin to a Coca Cola bottle. Prices are far more affordable than an original piece of artwork as they start at as little as £39.95 to £49.95 each. The sports clothing company, Adidas, recently produced a Superstar trainer as part of their “Expressions Series” to celebrate their 35th Anniversary. The “Andy Warhol” design, produced in a limited edition of 4,000 shoes sold out instantly. If you bought a pair now on the secondary market they would cost between £70 and £90. There is even an Andy Warhol soft doll, which sells for £15, and a stunning ‘Art Opening with Andy and Edie’ Daisy doll, which is rare, and can cost £50 upwards. If this is still a little high for your pocket then you could purchase a copy of the “Velvet Underground” album for around £15 to £20, as this “Banana” cover was another famous design. Warhol would have appreciated these interpretations of his work in modern day collectables, as he was an obsessive collector himself. Well known for frequenting the flea markets looking for bargains he was also a common face in auction houses and loved buying off of local dealers. After his sudden death in 1987 when gall bladder surgery went terribly wrong he left behind a townhouse with 30 rooms. He had only been able to live in two of the rooms because the rest were crammed full of objects that he had collected. Well known for his extensive collection of cookie jars, he also had items ranging from Tiffany Glass Lamps to a Fred Flintstone watch, celebrity autographs to his 600 time capsules, which he filled with everyday materials that reflected his life. […]
Antique Bisque Dolls – Years ago, the dream of most doll collectors was to be able to afford an antique doll – a doll made from bisque china with glass eyes and a jointed wood or composition body. We used to sigh over pictures in magazines and drool at doll fairs. Then, not so long ago, something happened; prices came tumbling down and doll collectors discovered that their dream really could come true. Now is the perfect time to buy antique dolls, before prices begin to rise again – and rise they will, because however lovely reproduction dolls, vinyl babies or modern collectors’ teens might be, they are not old and do not have that special air of mystery which only an antique doll can bestow. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Walther & Sohn 125.10 doll Bisque is an unglazed porcelain; it’s matt instead of shiny, hence the ‘biscuit’ finish and so it gives a natural look to the face of a doll. Before the advent of plastics, dolls’ faces would be made from carved wood, composition, papier mache, wax or bisque. Although these substances all had their advantages, bisque was not only the most durable, it also allowed artists to portray the human face in a beautiful way. A doll made completely from bisque would prove expensive, so most had bisque heads attached to bodies and limbs made of composition, leather, wood or fabric stuffed with woodwool. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Heubach 300 doll French doll makers made exceptionally beautiful dolls, though they tended to be exceedingly expensive as they were so labour intensive. These dolls, by makers such as Juneau and Bru, were dressed in top quality high fashion garments, and even today most are out of the reach of the average collector. However, German makers also made dolls and soon grew to dominate the industry as they were skilled in mass production. Consequently, they produced dolls in their thousands, far more cheaply than the French factories could manage. The vast majority of old dolls that beginner-collectors are likely to come across will be German, but just because they are cheaper, it doesn’t mean that they are less beautiful. Many German dolls are very pretty indeed, and usually they are incised on the back of the neck with the maker’s name, mark, initials or a number, so from that information and a bit of research you can find the factory and the date the doll was first produced. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Armand Marseille 390 doll The most prolific of the German companies was that owned by Armand Marseille, who, despite his French-seeming name, was German. Often it is an Armand Marseille doll that a novice collector will buy as their first old bisque doll, because they are so easily found and can be bought from around £100–£150 depending on condition. Pictured: An Antique Bisque Doll by Kammer & Reinhardt 133 doll One of the most popular and easy to find dolls are the Armand Marseille 390 girls, which have pretty faces and glass eyes. These are usually mounted on a wooden ball-jointed body, which means that you can pose the doll gracefully on display. With these 390s, as with all bisque dolls, it is amazing how dolls from the same mould look so different, due to the handpainting of their faces, which varies the colouring, thickness of lashes and shape of mouth. Also, eye and hair colours/styles influence the doll’s appearance. This is why a 390 is a good doll to start off with – there is so much choice, because these dolls were developed in the early 1900s and remained in production till 1938, and so there are thousands around. Other Armand Marseille moulds to look out for include the character toddler 990, the character girl 327 and the 370 girl. All these dolls should be available in ‘played with’ condition for under £300 – with dolls, obviously price depends on condition, and a much-played with doll with broken fingers and a scant wig will be far less than an almost perfect doll. Another Armand Marseille doll which the collector will easily find is the ‘My Dream Baby’. My Dream Baby swept Britain and the Continent during the mid- 1920s, when baby dolls came into vogue, and had a sweet face with either an open or a closed mouth. Today, the closed mouth babies sell for a slightly higher price, as more of the open mouth type were produced, but even so should comfortably fit into the £300 price range. As with the 390 girls, the appearance of these babies varies enormously depending on the painting, the body type, the eye size and the size of the doll (they range from tiny babies just a few inches high to very large babies often used as shop window display models). Of course, there are many other types of affordable German dolls, such as some marked ‘Heubach Koppelsdorf’. Ernst Heubach was a brother-in-law of Armand Marseille, and his company produced very attractive dolls, often with a rather flushed appearance. Other makers of bisque dolls that might be found by collectors include Simon & Halbig, Kestner, Schoenau & Hoffmeister, Kammer & Reinhardt, Alt. Beck & Gottschalk and Schuetzmeister & Quendt. It should be possible to buy the more common models by these makers at a reasonable price, though naturally the rare, more desirable moulds will always fetch a premium. The best advice is to familiarise yourself with the various kinds of dolls and makers by reading books on the subject. Some of these books are in the form of price guides, so will help you discover the models that you can afford. Recently, there has been something of a price slump with some of the antique bisques, so if you find one which appeals, now is the time to buy because prices are bound to rise. Wherever possible, it’s best to buy a doll that you have already seen and handled, rather than one which is advertised on […]
Bengo collectables have become increasingly sought after by those of us who, as children, followed his simple, hand-drawn adventures
The glass of Emile Galle is attracting increasing attention among collectors, not only for its inherent beauty and refinement, but also because every piece, so far as we know, has that favourite feature of the collector, a signature.