When I study such dolls as this little charmer, 'Bebe Gesland', I marvel that such delicate confections were made for children.
Here is a stellar block letter Francois Gaultier with pressed bisque head from the 1880's. She has lovely early pale bisque. A thick crop of black eyelashes surround her bulbous blue paperweight eyes and her eye rims are also painted black--always a sign of French quality, as are her multi stroked thick brows. Her eyes are shadowed in mauve, which gives these marvelous French dolls their haunting quality. Her closed mouth is red with darker rose accents. Her nostrils have rosy accents as well. Her ears are pierced, and there is a fleck on her left ear--not unusual for bisque ears that wear earrings. No cracks or hairlines to the head. Her blonde hair is draped over the bisque on the lit photos. The wig and pate are still glued to the front of the head and I was afraid of damaging what little pate is left if I pulled it off.
There is old glue residue around the rim of her head and behind her ears. I believe her eyes have been reset, but not recently as can be seen by the dust gathered on the plaster. Her cork pate is attached to her original blonde, mohair wig, but not much of the pate is left. Her lovely silk dress is quite possibly original--certainly of an appropriate age by the sewing--and it is fragile at the shoulders. The hooks and eyes have been replaced with new ones. Her underthings seem original to her, except for the petticoat. Antique shoes--not original--and vintage crocheted socks complete her ensemble.
The straw pork pie hat is antique and perches on her head so sweetly--like she's a little girl going to church or off to school.
Head is impressed F.G. with an 8 underneath on back of her head. The right arm does not hold a pose but the left leg holds a pose better. The other arm and leg hold the pose beautifully—sort of like a Schoenhut would hold a pose.
Her body is the rarer stockinette Gesland body, and she is called 'Bebe Gesland'. She has composition arms and legs and shoulder plate. Her arms, hands, and her shoulder plate have been repainted as if someone wanted her 'pinker'. It is well done. Her legs and her lovely feet have the original finish, which is more yellow with age than her arms and shoulder plate. The modeling of her hands and feet is exquisite.
Our cherub has the Gesland stamp on the back of her cloth torso, “Bebe E. Gesland SGDG E.Rue Berranger 5, Paris”. Coleman's Encyclopedia of Dolls, Volume II, has a small bit of info about the Gesland factory--that it was not a shop but a factory that sold direct to their customers, and who also did repairs on dolls 'in ten minutes'. Their Christmas Eve hours were longer than regular hours.
There is a small hole just under the stamped name, and it will not spread. These early stockinette torsos had exceptional bodily proportions to make a full, plump and round body for the doll head. Internal riveted steel joints allowing for easier posing of her arms in a multitude of ways. Gesland made the bodies for Gaultier heads, and other French doll makers, into the 20th century. This girl is 1880s-90s.
Our delightfully winsome French child is in gently played with condition. She displays well, and she’s still fun to play with—gently, of course.
Here is a real treasure for anyone's doll collection. Please ask any questions or ask for more photos if you need them. I will be happy to assist.
Thank you for checking in. Best wishes.
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