The firm of Gebrüder Heubach made some of the most interesting and recognizable character dolls of the early 20th century. The almost endless diversity of molds produced by this company is even more amazing when we consider that the firm did not start making dolls until 1907. Although they were competing with the character dolls made by other long-established doll companies, their own history in the porcelain industry placed them in a good position to supply skillfully made, artistically sculpted character dolls at affordable price points.
Gebrüder Heubach’s roots were in the company founded by Johann Heinrik Leder in 1804 in Lichte, Thüringia, Germany. Leder’s company began by making pottery. In 1840 the business was purchased by the Heubach brothers, Cristoph and Philipp. By 1843 they were producing hard paste porcelain wares consisting of household goods and simple figurines. In 1862 the Heubachs along with a small group of other porcelain factory owners from the area formed an association called the Art and Business Society of Sonneberg. This group helped found the Painters and Modelers School of Lichte. This not only provided expertise and jobs within the local communities but also ensured a ready pool of talent to hire for their own businesses. The area gained a reputation for very high-quality work.
In 1870 Gebrüder Heubach increased their production of decorative porcelain items. In 1907, drawing on their talent pool and experience in making figurines the firm began making bisque doll heads as well. Their earliest doll mold was the Dolly Dimple mold. This doll though still classified as a “dolly -faced” doll was already showing more individualism of expression than its contemporaries by other companies. Heubach’s background in figurine making put them in a perfect position to move from their first dolls into the newly emerging realm of character-faced dolls.
The company’s vast experience in manufacturing also allowed them to employ a number of
Dolls with glass eyes and/or wigs were also produced by this firm. The character dolls by Gebrüder Heubach include open mouth dolls, open/closed mouth dolls, closed mouth dolls, and pouty styles. Many of their doll heads were made in both socket and shoulder head versions. The heads were supplied to companies such as Emil Bauersachs, George Borgfeldt, Cuno & Otto Dressel, Eisemann & Co., Hamburger & Co., Carl Hoffmeister, Gebrüder Ohlhaver, Wagner & Zetsche, and Zinner & Sohn.
Mold numbers found on these dolls range from 556 to 10633. Markings on the dolls include variations of single or combinations of the following marks: the sunburst mark which was in use in various forms from 1882 onward, the square mark which was registered in 1910, size numbers ranging from 0 to 16, and variations on the company initials or stamped red, green or blue.
Today the collector can build a collection of these dolls acquiring examples in a wide range of scales and price points, all of which add an extra measure of life to any display.
Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik German Doll Encyclopedia. Cumberland: Hobby House Press, 1985
Dorothy S., Elizabeth A., Evelyn J. Coleman The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls Vol. I & II. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1968 & 1986
Linda Edward Doll Values, 13th Edition. New York: Page Publishing. 2017
Mary Gorham Krombholz German Porcelain Dolls. Cumberland: Reverie, 2002
Mary Gorham Krombholz Identifying German Character Dolls. Cumberland: Reverie, 2008
Lydia Richter Treasury of German Dolls. Tucson: HP Books, 1984
Author – Linda Edward
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