Large Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head DollLarge Antique Kestner China Head Doll

Description of Doll for Sale

I am pleased to present a 22 inch tall antique Kestner China head doll. This China head has a flat top hair style that indicates that this doll was made in Germany circa 1860 to the 1870's. Kestner had been making papier mache, wood and wax dolls as far back as 1820. Around 1860 they starting making china doll heads like this one so this doll represents some of Kestner's earliest china head doll production.

The head, body and clothes are all antique and are in fantastic condition. The body is in immaculate condition with no foxing staining or repairs. The body is made from a thin finely woven muslin made with coarsely spun cotton thread. The condition is so good I was concerned it might be a replaced body but everything (materials and workmanship) looks correct for it being the original body for this doll. The body may be factory original or the doll may have been purchased as a kit and the body was made by the original owner of the doll from a pattern supplied with the kit. The fine material in the body and simple styling point to it being made by the owner (or her mother) but it is hard to be sure. The leather hands appear to be another story. They are correct in materials and workmanship for the original hands but the condition is just too good. The original hands would have picked up oils from peoples hands and been exposed to light which would have discolored and degraded them. I am assuming these hands were replaced fifty or more years ago after the doll had stopped being a plaything and had become a treasured memento of past generations. The fingers are in great condition but are not wired like the originals would have been.

The china heads clothes consist of a dress with lace accents, chemise, lace trimmed slip, lace trimmed bloomers and black knit socks. The clothes are antique and are most likely original to the doll. The materials and sewing details are correct for the 1860's. With a doll of this era it is almost impossible to say for sure they are factory original clothes. China head dolls were often sold by the factory in Germany without clothes or with just the undies. The store selling the doll or the doll owner's mother would then make the dress for the doll. In any case I am sure the dress is as old as the doll and has most likely been with this doll for 140+ years.


It is typically that in most early German china head dolls that there are no marks on the china head or body. My assignment of the maker of this doll to Kestner was arrived at based on investigations in several resource books in my library.

Condition of Doll for Sale
The bisque head is perfect with no chips, cracks or repairs. The clay used to make the head is coarse and has caused lots of fine pepper marks in the surface of the head which are most noticeable on the back of the shoulder plate. There are also mineral inclusions that have caused kiln specks seen on the left cheek of the face. These are all factory conditions and do not represent latter damage to the head. (see pictures below and close-up of face in slide show. You can click the pictures to see close-ups of the condition.

The doll may have wear and flaws seen in used dolls. I try to describe significant flaws in my text and show them in picture. Read the text and examine the pictures to be sure you understand the dolls condition. If you have questions please email me.

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Large Antique Kestner China Head Doll


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    Elisabeth Crouch
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