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1941 "ERIKA" Schildkröt doll *Mint!
This is ERIKA, she is 16" tall and made of jointed tortulon like celluloid by Schildkröt is the oldest manufacturer of dolls continuously producing dolls since 1896.
This doll is limited to 20,000 units, first introduced in 1941, Here's Erika dressed in a beautiful white daisy embroidered dress with yellow butterflies and green foliage fabric. She wears white undies, white cotton lace socks and Mary Jane white shoes.
She has the Schildkröt hang tags around her wrist. She can stand by herself. She's made of solid Tortulon* fixed glass brown eyes, and 5-point articulation; head, shoulders and hip joints.
Tortulone is a high-quality plastic material to which, like the celluloid, the blowing method can be applied, however, tortulone is non-flammable, like celluloid.
ERIKA was made to complete vintage collections from ancient years that are not available any more. The serial number of the production is stamped on the back of each doll. This one has number #11581 and the tortoise mark.
In excellent condition, New was stored when purchased.
ON Schildkröt Dolls:
..."Celluloid dolls are suddenly highly desirable collectors' items. This seems to have happened overnight, or at least while many people weren't watching. In part, their ascendancy probably has to do with the fact that they were long overlooked, while the old French and German bisque dolls got all the glory.
And so the doll collector's spotlight has widened, to include celluloid dolls, and what we see in this new light is certainly worth a second look. It is unique and delightful.
Celluloid itself has an interesting history. It was one of the first man-made consumer materials, one of the first thermo-plastics and synthetic materials, as we call them now. It was invented in 1868 by the American John Wesley Hyatt, who in doing so improved an even earlier invention by Englishman Alexander Parkes.
Celluloid was the result of "polymerization" decades before that word was coined. It means, in effect, the successful stringing-together of long, complex molecules made from simpler ones. The basic ingredients of Parkes' invention were cellulose nitrate, camphor, and alcohol. It made for an opaque malleable paste, but it became brittle as it cooled and dried. It was also highly explosive.
For his own creation, Hyatt changed the composition of the material to maintain a certain elasticity after it cooled. Significantly, he also found he could add pigmentation to give it any color he chose. The first pigment he added was white, because he was searching for something to replace ivory, which was becoming scarce and evermore expensive. In those days, ivory from India and Africa was used not just for art carvings and jewelery but also for everyday things such as billiard balls, combs, piano keys, domino tiles, cutlery handles, cuff links, and collar stays.
Hyatt's celluloid became a great success. It could be shipped as blocks, tubes, or rods; it could be made pliable again with steam and pressed into forms. However, it was still flammable, and in the days of candles and gaslights, it required caution. Although unsafe to use for toys, its advantages as a substitute material were obvious: Celluloid could be made to resemble anything from ivory to bone, amber, mother of pearl, tortoise shell, and so forth. It was the first in a long line of plastics to come.
By 1889, a German company had found a way to further improve celluloid so it could be used for toys. The required machinery was developed, and soon dolls with the turtle trademark were sent out into the world. The company was the Rheinische Gummi- und Celluloidwarenfabrik (Rhenish Rubber and Celluloid Works), but before long it was better known as Schildkrötwerke (Turtle Works)—Schildkröt, of course, meaning turtle in German.
Over time the trademark symbol saw several changes, all of them minor, but nevertheless important for collectors to know, because they give clues as to the age of the doll in question. The turtle without the rhombus, marked "SkoR1" (Schildkröte ohne Raute) with the words "Germany Schutz-Marke," was used until approximately 1910.
Very early dolls were made of pale, relatively thick celluloid, and they were rigid. After 1900, they received moveable legs and arms. Eyes were painted, hair was modeled in great detail, and faces and expressions were unique. There was also a noticeable gleam to the material of the early dolls. Schildkröt dolls were always expensive when compared to other contemporary dolls, whether they were made of composition, bisque, or wax.
Between 1900 and 1910, SKoR was gradually replaced by "SkiR" (Schildkröte in Raute, or rhombus). The sequence of words now read "Schutz-Marke / Germany." The so-called old sign shows a noticeably slender turtle whose feet are curiously oriented to the front, making it look more like a salamander. In 1930, the trademark was changed again, for the last time. The turtle was drawn more compactly, with a rounded shell like a semicircle, and the rhombus fit snugly around it.
Collectors' literature thus differentiates between "SKoR" and "SKiR," and between the "new" trademark and the "old," meaning the old and new shapes of the turtle.
In 1903, Schildkröt offered the first celluloid socket heads with sleeping eyes. The heads were mounted on jointed bodies of wood, leather, or composition, and these dolls became very desirable worldwide, especially in North America and England.
Over time, Schildkröt grew into a serious competitor for other doll makers. In the Black Forest region of Germany, the cradle of porcelain manufacturers, several makers of bisque heads even feared for their very existence. Schildkröt was now firmly established in the worldwide doll market.
Perhaps the surest sign of their acceptance and success came when some of the traditional and famous bisque-head makers began buying Schildkröt celluloid heads for their own models. Among these were Kämmer & Reinhardt, Koenig & Wernicke, and J. D. Kestner Jr. All three had their main manufacturing sites in Waltershausen, Thuringia.
After 1909, a new doll idea gave fresh impetus to the industry: Kämmer & Reinhardt patented its first "character doll." Collectors know about this famous series that began with Baby, Peter and Mary, and Sweet Darling. Many of them were marketed with the "new and unbreakable" celluloid heads produced in cooperation with Schildkröt.
Serial numbers that had been used on porcelain heads, such as 100, 101, 114, and 117, were changed to 700, 701, 714, and 717 for the celluloid heads. In addition to the incisions "K * R," these heads also bore the sign of the turtle. The same bodies of either wood or composition mass were used for both celluloid and porcelain heads. The Kämmer & Reinhardt dolls of the 700 series were extremely popular and are valuable collectors' items today.
The World War I and II years were difficult for the company, and it nearly went under more than once. In the 1950s, Schildkröt replaced the still somewhat flammable celluloid with a new polymer called tortulon (Latin: tortula = the turtle) and launched a new and successful family of doll models. Among them, Annette, Yvonne, and Manuela are slim and capricious, and made very mobile with ball-jointed arms and legs. The hair was often no longer modeled but made of new materials such as nylon, perlon, and saran.
The year 1955 even saw a cooperation between Käthe Kruse and Schildkröt. These tortulon dolls were incised with the trademark turtle, the words "Modell Käthe Kruse," and the letter "T." But the very name Käthe Kruse had been synonymous with soft, huggable dolls and heads, and so these dolls were not successful. After a few years, they were discontinued.
In the late 1960s, Schildkröt began having difficulties again. Increasingly fickle consumer tastes, financial losses, and changes of ownership marked the beginning of the end of a famous name. In the early 1970s, the factory in Mannheim was closed, and for a few more years Schildkröt dolls were made by Bella in Perpignan, France. By now, additional new materials were being used, such as Demiflex and Tortuflex. Then that factory closed. It was the end.
During the company's heyday, however, the great success of Schildkröt dolls caused many other doll manufacturers to launch their own celluloid lines. Among the Europeans, some other names are Cellba in Germany, Toco (Tondl & Co.) in Austria, and Petitcollin and Convert in France. However, no other maker of celluloid dolls was anywhere near as successful as Schildkröt.
The turtle triumphed for nearly 100 years, and in the eyes of collectors, it does so to this day.
Follow-Up Note: Some may have wonder what happened after the bankruptcy of Rhenish Rubber and Celluloid Works (Schildkröt Works), as the Schildkröt name still exists today and dolls with the turtle insignia continue to be made. In the aftermath, a year or so after the bankruptcy, German toy merchants Hubert and Hannelore Biemann bought bankruptcy remains, among them molds and manufacturing tools. With that came the famous turtle trademark. They began to make dolls again, in Rauenstein near Sonneberg (now called Schildkröt Puppen und Spielwaren GmbH), using original molds. These dolls are, of course, no longer made from celluloid or its derivatives, but from modern synthetics. Along with the SKiR marking (the turtle within the rhomboid) and the size, they are also inscribed "R" meaning "Replik," or replica in English. For example, the marking on a neck may be "R 49."
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