Collecting antique porcelain dolls can be a very rewarding hobby. Talented artisans have been creating beautiful dolls for decades. The number of choices from countries all over the world are enormous! Although today you can buy good quality reproductions, modern technology has also seen an increase in fakes. How do you spot these fakes being sold as originals? There are many tell-tale signs that will sound alarm bells. Here are the basics:
This is a subject for its own article however, let’s take a quick look.
If you are buying in the USA, all dolls made and imported after 1891 required to be marked with the country of origin. Although the form of mark can be located on the back of the head, chest, shoulder or the soles of the feet they can also be encoded within the material or simply an attached label. The presence of a mark immediately dates the doll as post 1891. The mark will commonly involve a mould number, size number, patent number and of course the manufacturers initial or stamp. No marks MAY mean pre 1891. If the doll has no marks be sure to check the following:
Take a look at the eyes closely and look for these signs:
- Look for glass not plastic.
- If the doll is meant to have ‘sleep eyes’ make sure they work and not simply glued in place.
- The eye socket or cut should be symmetrical.
- The porcelain at the socket edge should be thin.
- Does the eye socket have the correct colours for that doll? Usually antique dolls only have eye shadow.
- The eyelashes should not be symmetrical.
- One eyelash should have more strokes than the other.
- They should be fine, thin strokes not thick.
- The eyebrows should be finely painted. Similar to the eye lashes.
- They should not be symmetrical.
- Check the location on the face. The doll should not have a surprised look on its face.
Legitimate porcelain will have been around a while and most probably made from a bisque that looks realistic. Expect to see some fine crazing. Of course any cracks or evidence of repair will effect value.
- Is the dolls costume or dress appropriate for the era of the doll?
- What material is used? There should not be polyester or any other relatively modern material.
- Mohair or human hair not polyester.
Most antique porcelain dolls are actually are combination of parts from different manufacturers. It was common practice for manufacturers to specialize in heads and supply to the greater market. Be sure to check for marks. Refer above.
It is difficult to quickly assess whether an antique doll is real or a fake. Although the above list is a short insight, familiarize yourself with the particular doll/s you are interested in by visiting museums and other collections to study up close what the real thing should look like. This will give you a good benchmark.