Antique and Vintage Composition Dolls

Prior to the use of composition as a doll-making material, most dolls had heads made out of porcelain or bisque and limbs made of stuffed cloth. The result was a doll with realistic facial features but unconvincing hands and feet.

Composition changed all that. In the 1850s, German doll makers in the town of Sonneberg mixed glue and sawdust to make a viscous composition, which could be molded and then painted once dry—Stephan Schilling was one famous Sonneberg company. In the 1870s, a New Yorker named Lazarus Reichmann perfected the composition recipe.

Early composition doll torsos and upper limbs were often made of stuffed cloth, with the composition reserved for the doll’s arms and legs. Eventually, though, entire dolls were made from composition, giving the doll a more credible appearance.

There were several reasons why the doll industry embraced composition, particularly in the early part of the 20th century. First and foremost, the material was inexpensive to make and easy to work with. Second, it was more durable than bisque, which cracked easily. Companies that made composition dolls included Madame Alexander and Ideal, whose Shirley Temple dolls were a huge hit in the 1930s.

By the 1940s, composition was giving way to molded plastic, which soon left the primitive material in the dust. Composition was not as soft as the new plastics that were coming to market, and never would be. Worse, it was prone to crazing, which gave the dolls a worn-out appearance even when they had not been subjected to hard use.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1930's Ideal Composition 11" Shirley Temple Doll , All Original Pin, DressesVintage Composition Baby Sandy Doll With Pin Antique France Sfbj Unis 301 Jumeau Porcelain Bisque Doll Head Composition BodyVintage 25" Shirley Temple Composition Doll With Flirty Eyes By IdealAntique 29" German Armand Marseille Bisque Head Doll~ball Jted. Composition Body1930's Ideal 16" Composition Shirley Temple Doll - Early Mark Cop Ideal N&tComposition & Cloth 22" Big Happy Chubby Baby Doll With Dimples Vintage/antique 1920s Old Ei Horsman 22" Baby Dimples Composition Mama Doll With Tin Eyes NorsrvRegal *sea Foam Princess* 31" Kestner 154 Antique Bisque Doll With Compo Arms!Rare Arranbee Vintage Composition R & B Nurse Doll W/ Trunk & ClothesVintage All Original 14" Madame Alexander Margaret O'brien Composition DollVtg Antique 1930-1940's Deanna Durbin Ideal Composition Doll 21" Tall (1 Of 150)1930's 18" Ideal Shirley Temple Composition DollVtg Antique 1928 F&b Effanbee Patsy Ann Doll Incised Composition 19" (4 Of 15022" Large Antique/vintage Madame Alexander - Composition/cloth DollRare Vintage Madame Alexander Flora Mc Flimsey 1938 All Original DollDarlingbeautiful 11” *jessie Mccutcheon~raleigh Character Doll * Circa 1916Antique Victorian 7" German Bisque + Composition Doll Kestner? W/ Outfit + HatsVtg 40s 1947 Madame Alexander 15" Sleeping Beauty Doll Composition Original RareMadame Alexander Bride Doll Composition 21" Original Dress Needs RepairAntique German Bisque Character Baby Doll Kestner Composition Body Chubby CheeksAntique Compo Porcelain Germany DollSmall Composition Ball Jointed Replacement Doll Body For Antique Bisque Head RepLarge Chunky Composition Baby Mama Doll, 25", #1Sweet 1930's-40's Vintage 24" Composition & Cloth Baby Doll Fair Cond N/w CrierCute Antique/vintage Composition 11 1/2 Inch Patsy Type DollOriginal 1930's Madame Alexander Dionne Quints Quintuplets Composition 11" Dolls15.5" Antique Kestner Composition Doll Body - ExcelsiorOld 14" Effanbee All Composition Baby Toddler Patsy Style Doll Chunky Legs Cute!Charming 18” *jessie Mccutcheon~raleigh Character Doll * Circa 1916Large 26" Antique French Sfbj Bebe Paris Bisque Composition Rare Talking DollAntique Composition Doll Large VintageRare Huge Fabulous 28" 1930s Vintage Effanbee Lovums Composition & Cloth DollHuge Ideal Bouncing Happy Baby! Great Original Features! Almost 28" Tall! Wow!Vintage Composition Effanbee American Child Dewees Cochran Doll All OriginalCharming Antique C1900 German Bisque Porcelain Head Composition Body Doll 28"Scarce 1939 Ideal Superman 13" Wood & Composition DollWonderful 18” *jessie Mccutcheon~raleigh Character Doll * Circa 1916Vintage 1930's Effanbee 19" Composition Patsy Ann Doll All Original Nice!Ltd Toy Stamp & Vintage 1930s Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll 18" Ap61%toy Stamp & 1930's Joseph Kallus Wood Body "margie" Doll With Composition HeadRare 1911 Antique Glass Eyed Googly "hug Me Kid" Composition Face Felt Body Doll20" Vintage Effanbee Composition Sweetie Pie Baby Doll W Flirty Eyes/caracul WigAntique William Goebel German Bisque Doll Composition Body Wig Dress 23" Repair~ 1920's German Bisque Head Composition Body Doll 7 Inches Tall22" Vintage Ideal Baby Coquette Composition DollAntique 1915 Amberg Charlie Chaplin 14" Composition & Cloth Character DollOld 1934 Prototype Ideal 18" Composition Shirley Temple Nice Doll ~ 1920's German Bisque Head Composition Body 6.5 Inch Girl DollDarling 13” *jessie Mccutcheon~raleigh Character Doll * Circa 1916Antique C1800s German Composition Clown Doll Wood Legs Shoes Cymbals Wool ClothVintage Original 1930s Ideal Composition 22" Shirley Temple DollAntique 1930's Madame Alexander Wendy Ann Face Composition Doll-mohair Wig-18"$9 Opening Bid! C.1900 Antique German Composition Doll Bisque Head!Large Antique Composition Doll BodyHuge 28" Vintage 1930s Toddler Happy Baby Composition And Cloth DollWow! Antique Schoenhut 7" Maggie & Jiggs Jiggs Composition & Wood Doll Rare Vintage Madame Alexander Flora Mc Flimsey 1938 All Original DollOld 1930's Wooden Trunk Only For 18" Composition Shirley Temple Doll 11" Arranbee All Composition My Dream Baby Doll Open Mouth Romper Bonnet Likenew