Sonnenberg Doll Appraisal

German papier-mâché doll

German papier-mâché doll

This antique doll is a large example of a German papier-mâché shoulder head model, also referred to as a Sonneberg papier-mâché or composition doll, circa 1890. There were quite a few factories in Thuringia that made this type of doll, and if the labels or stamps are missing from the back shoulders, it’s difficult to give an attribution, but she appears to have been produced by the doll and toy factory of Adolf Wislizenus  of Waltershausen, a large company producing a wide variety of dolls which operated from 1851-1931.

Most heads of this type have painted eyes, but this one has the very rare feature of glass inset paperweight eyes.

From close examination of many photographs, it appears as though the head has been refinished and that the varnish has crackled and crazed. The antique cloth body is appropriate, but not the original factory body which would have had composition lower arms and legs with fancy molded boots and stockings.

The tears on the cloth ankles can be patched and mended. There is some deterioration to the leather of one of the hands.

She has lovely antique clothing and shoes which contribute to making her a totally charming doll.

-Jan Foulke

close-up of eyes and facial features close-up of face, German papier-mâché doll side view, German papier-mâché doll