BISQUE DOLLS

Bisque dolls can be made of all bisque or just bisque heads with composition bodies or kid bodies. Bisque dolls are one of the most highly collected dolls. Bisque dolls have often been preserved better than wax dolls.

Bisque, sometimes known as biscuit, is an unglazed porcelain or earthenware which has been fired only twice. During the refiring, the features are tinted and refired at a lower temperature. This technique resulted in very realistic faces. Porcelain or bisque doll kits can still be purchased and some are still made from the old molds. These kits are ideal for doll artists who wish to recreate the beautiful dolls of the past. These can be tinted or left white for the doll artist to paint themselves.

Bisque dolls were extremely popular from the mid 19th century and into the 20th. Bisque dolls are still made but are now for collectors and not for children.

The most beautiful antique bisque dolls were those made in France. Some of the most desirable of French doll makers were Juneau, Bru, Gaultier and Steiner.

A popular type of doll made in France was the "bebe". Although their name of "bebes", or "bébés", tended to mean baby doll, "bebes" were actually dolls which represented infants to children of around 8 years old.

Germany also produced many bisque dolls and although many of these are excellent and very collectible, they are not as exquisite as the French dolls. However, the German dolls were cheaper than the French dolls and thus, provided competition for the French doll market.

Popular German doll makers included Simon & Halbig who made many porcelain doll heads, many of these were on doll bodies made by Kammer & Reinhardt. These two companies eventually merged. Armand Marseille made many bisque dolls.

Due to the German doll competition, the French doll makers formed a consortium, the Société Francaise de Fabrication des Bébés et Jouets (SFBJ).

References:

Miller's Understanding Antiques - New Edition

Dolls : pleasures and Treasures

 

Bisque Head Doll

Bisque Head Doll

Jumeau Bebe Doll Illustration

Catalogue engraving of doll made by the French firm of Pierre Francoise Jumeau