This is perhaps the oldest doll that I own personally other than the little half doll pincushion that was given to my by my great aunt. I found her for a few dollars in a flee market. She also has an old “cry box” that no longer works.
A composition doll is a doll made partially or wholly out of composition, a composite material composed of sawdust, glue, and other materials such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour. Composition dolls were marketed as unbreakable and hailed as an improvement in doll making from the fragile bisque and china material previously used. There are two types of composition manufacturing processes: cold-press and hot press. The cold-press composition manufacturing process was invented by Solomon D. Horsman in 1890s. Hot-Press composition began around 1920 and was an improvement in the processing. Composition doll manufacturing lasted until the late 1940s, when plastic began to be used for dolls.
Many antique German and French bisque dolls from the 19th century combine a bisque head with a ball-jointed body made of composition. In 1877 French dollmaker Jumeau introduced the Bébé Incassable, with a bisque head portraying a young girl and a fully articulated composition body. With realistic glass eyes and contemporary fashion styles, thousands of Bébé dolls were produced for an international market. The French Bleuette doll from S.F.B.J. has a jointed composition body with a bisque or composition head. The composition Bleuette was produced from 1905 to 1958.
Some early celebrity dolls were made of composition, like the Baby Peggy doll from Louis Amberg & Sons, which was a success in 1923. The American Ideal Toy Company began making composition dolls in 1907. They produced over 200 variations of dolls throughout the composition era. Their Shirley Temple doll was one of the most successful celebrity dolls. First produced in 1934, millions of the composition Shirley dolls were produced.
See the cracked paint down her arm and the fingers are wearing away! The fingers are made from a wood pulp/composite mix.
Early Baby-Walker Dolls: had entire bodies, including their cloths were made from composition
Kathe Kruse: Boy and Girl Dolls – pressed felt dolls had composition socket heads
Shirley Temple Doll: Ideal Toy and Novelty Company in New York City negotiated a license for dolls with the company’s first doll wearing the polka-dot dress from Stand Up and Cheer!. Shirley Temple dolls realized $45 million in sales before 1941.
Baby Peggy Doll – Diana Serra Cary (born October 26, 1918), best known as Baby Peggy, was one of the three major American child stars of the Hollywood silent movie era along with Jackie Coogan and Baby Marie.
More American Ideal Toy Company Dolls
Repairing Composition Dolls: Nancy’s Doll Restoration * Care of Composition Dolls by Louise * Amazing restoration to a fire damaged Kestner doll! *The Art of Doll Repair * 1920 Shoulder Plate Composition Baby * Papier Mache Rediscovered *
The top of her head is cracked and the layer of Gesso exposed.
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My composition baby with her eyes shut.
- A Miracle Sent to Me (jlue.wordpress.com)