K*R Kammer and Reinhardt hold the record for the highest price paid an antique doll for the character doll Bonham’s sold at auction for nearly $400,000. When the hammer went down on this auction, German character dolls came into their own. Here are five German Character examples any doll collector would appreciate.
1. Gretchen Model 114: Also by K*R, this pouty little girl with painted features often wears blonde braids. It is the irony of some dolls’ lives that while they don’t look happy themselves, they make collectors happy.
2. Just Me by Armand Marseille: this sweet little girl with her side glancing eyes and pudgy cheeks came in a 9-inch size that fits the collector’s cabinet perfectly. Armand Marseilles character dolls are favorites with collectors, along with his Googly’s.
3. Oscar Hitt Googly: This Googly, like all, had that wide-eyed stare we also associate with Betty Boop, Flappers, and Kewpies. The doll pictured was a very rare example, where the eyes worked with the rest of the face to give that startled expression. Dolls with googly type eyes also are the creations of Lenci, Freundlich, Chloe Preston, and other manufacturers.
4. Max and Mortiz: Wilhelm Busch’s beloved cartoon characters first appeared in print in 1965. Since then, they have appeared in more books, on notebooks, vases, as figurines, and of course, as dolls. They, too, were the brainchildren of Kammer & Reinhardt.
5. Kestner 243 Asian Baby: This character by Kestner, with his ornamental costume, and sweet cheerful face just makes us happy!
This post is just a survey of German character dolls. Many other rare examples have surfaced, and some, like “Hex”, have appeared as Uncle Sam, witches, and other characters. The Mary Pickford Doll, once part of the Billie Nelson Tyrrell collection, is one of the most beautiful. The smiling faces of some of the Simon and Halbig dolls also fit this category. Of course, there are the various open and closed mouth babies and toddlers, Kestner’s Hilda, the Bye-lo and Dream Babies, and so many more that could fill volumes. Some dolls, like Baby Stewart, have molded bonnets and hair, while others are two or three faced dolls that convey all sorts of emotions. Some writers allege doll making as we know it began in Germany; undoubtedly German dolls of character are worthy of any collection.
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