Description of Kister China Head Doll for Sale
This is a 13 1/2 inch antique china head doll that was made in Germany in the late 1840's to 1850's. . The face molding and eye painting closely resembles dolls made by Dressel Kister, and Co. The doll has wooden hands on a leather body with leather feet. This style of body is based on the body of a doll called a milliners model that was made as far back as 1820 but continued into the 1850's. The body style is referred to as a lady or fashion style and has no knee or elbow gussets.
The style of the hair with the bun low on the back of the head is often referred to as Jenny Lind style after a famous Swedish singer of the era. The hair is in a relaxed styling which is not typical of most Jenny Lind hairdos but the low bun hairdo is common to this period. There also appears to be a braid of hair framing the face. This is more typical of a style called Young Victoria after Queen Victoria.
The clothes consist of a dress with black tatted lace accents, chemise with attached slip, white slip plus a second wool slip. The dress would be considered a morning or house dress. For formal occasions, a dress of this period would have a more fitted styling with more embellishments. The clothes are antique and are all hand sewn. They are most likely original to the doll. The materials and sewing details are correct for the 1850's. In this era dolls were sometimes sold as just a head or a doll without clothes. The doll owner's mother would then make a body and dress for the doll. It appears that this dress and slip were made by the mother of the original dolls owner probably using leftover material in her sewing basket. The dress is as old as the doll and has most likely been with this doll for 165+ years. The two slips appear to have cruder sewing and were likely sewn by the little girl that first owned this doll.
The style of the head dates to the 1850's when Kister was as major china head maker. The body is even older dating back as far as 1820. The style and construction of the dress also points to an 1850's date. It is likely that in the 1850's the head was purchased and added to an existing milliner's model body and the dress was made for the resulting doll. It is also possible that at a latter date a china head doll who's body had failed was combined with a milliner's model doll with a bad head.
As are most China heads this doll is unmarked. The Kister 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 head is perfect with no cracks or repairs. There are some minor paint rubs and chips on the back of the hair. Compared to most dolls of this era the hair painting is in good condition. There is no nose rub. (see pictures) You can click the pictures to see close-ups of the condition. The leather body is in good condition. There are no patches or repairs. The join between the leather arms and wood hands is usually covered with colored tape. There are remnants of the original tape still present. There are no stains on the body but there is some discoloration from handling.
There are areas on the back of the dress where the material is starting to separate. The front of the dress is made from a different material that is in better condition with no serious damage. The dress and accessories are clean with no stains, foxing or repairs. The wooden hands are in good condition with no chips or signs or repainting.
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