Posted in Dolls

by Ruby Lane

The character dolls of Gebrüder Heubach were sculpted in a wide range of styles. This style with its molded bonnet is called Baby Stuart by collectors.

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.

The company became well-known for its lovely bisque figurines. Photos courtesy of
La Maison Verte on RubyLane.

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.  

Dolly Dimple’s English language name was due to the fact that Gebrüder Heubach made this doll for the American firm of Hamburger and Co. 
Whistling Jim was molded with a round opening between his pursed lips. The bodies used for these dolls had a squeeze bellows mechanism that allowed the doll to actually whistle.


The company’s vast experience in manufacturing also allowed them to employ a number of cost saving devices. The earliest Heubach dolls were made of white slip which was then tinted in the traditional manner and re-fired but they soon went to using pink slip (very few if any other makers used pink at the time). The pink slip was then given a coat of skin-tone paint and fired. The company also used molded hair and intaglio style eyes on many of its models.

Intaglio eyes are made with a style of sculpting that employs an incised or carved out detail, in this case in the pupil and sometimes iris (depending on the doll size) which when painted creates a very dimensional look to the doll’s eyes and gives the eye an appearance of almost looking at you from every angle, instead of staring blankly ahead.  Sometimes the eyes were painted with liquid slip to raise the pupil a bit and sometimes clear glaze was used over the eye. This is a characteristic that helps define Heubach dolls.
Most painted eyed Heubachs had single stroke eyebrows and blue or blue/gray eyes, brown eyes are rare. When found most glass-eyed Heubachs have a feathered style eyebrow.

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 7604 has an open/closed style of mouth. Most Heubach doll heads can be found in a range of sizes.
A trio of closed mouth shoulder-heads style dolls all have different expressions although a certain “family likeness” can be seen in their sculpting.

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.

The “sunburst” and the “square” marks are often seen on Heubach dolls although the company also used numbers and stamps with or without these marks on their dolls.

Bibliography

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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