Description of Doll for Sale
I am pleased to present a spectacular example of an antique Biedermeier Parian head doll made by Alt Beck and Gottschalk (ABG) in Germany. The doll dates from the mid 1850's when ABG started making china heads to the early 1860's. In the 1860's Alt Beck and Gottschalk started making heads with elaborate molded hairdos and quickly phased out the wigged Biedermeier heads. Instead of being glazed like most antique German china heads, the bisque has a Parian finish, meaning unglazed. She is 11 inches tall on a cloth body with leather hands. She is all original with her original antique cloth body, underwear dress and hat, She has a closed Biedermeier styled head with a blond painted spot on the top of her head. Under the hat is a lace cap which is intended to show as trim. There is also a hank of mohair positioned to look like bangs sticking out from under the hat. The body is stuffed with either cotton or hair. The body is all original with knit stockings tacked to the lower legs.
This ABG doll has multi-stroke eyebrows and painted eyelashes which was a feature of the higher end ABG dolls like Princess Dagmar. Most ABG China heads has single stroke eyebrows with no painted lashes.
This ABG doll is wearing a distinctive blue apron length antique dress over an off white skirt. The dress wraps around the body and closes around the bodice but has a fly a way opening in the back of the skirt. This is perhaps to accentuate the hips and provide fullness in the back like a bustle. The fabric is likely a silk blend with a shiny surface finish but a more coarser weave visible on the inside. The skirt also has a silky finish with the horizontal band of stripes on the bottom woven into the fabric. Both fabrics are very distinctive and are something I have not seen in other latter dolls. The condition of the antique clothes is amazing considering they are 150+ years old.
As is common with antique Alt Beck and Gottschalk dolls there are no marks on the head or body. The ABG association is based on recent research by Mary Gorham Krombholz and documented in her book A Pictorial Reference Guide for German Chinas.
Condition of Doll for Sale
The Parian head is perfect with no chips, cracks or repairs. As is seen on many early antique dolls there are kiln specks in the Parian finish. One rather large spec by her mouth is well placed to simulate a birth mark. The dress and skirt are in good condition with no stains, foxing rips or repairs. The underwear is clean and sound with no repairs but it has yellowed some. The body is sound with no stains, foxing rips or repairs. As would be expected it is a little dingy and yellowed.
The leather hands are not in as good condition. The left hand has wear across the knuckles exposing some of the stuffing. The fingers are also soiled some. The upper arm is taped where it is attached to the body. The right hand has a split in the inner side exposing the cotton stuffing. There are also some more splits higher up where the leather joins the cloth body. On both arms I was not able to remove the sleeves to see the attachment to the cloth body clearly. I can see that there is tape reinforcing these joints so I assume there is some more damage under the sleeve. I have included closeups of both sides of the hands in the slide show.
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