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”)

Dollreference.com

Dollreference.com

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    

1930s Ideal Shirley Temple 18" Composition Doll-nice-look!Antique Kestner Chinese Japanese Oriental Asian Bisque Compo German Doll 13"Shirley Temple 18" Ideal Composition Doll - All Original - In Original BoxAntique 24" Simon & Halbig #9 Articulated Composition & Bisque German DollJdk 257 Kestner Bisque Character Doll With Composition Body & Flirty/sleep Eyes Set Of 7" Dionne Quints In Original Basket Madame Alexander - Worldwide ShippingEstate - Antique 19thc Composition Head Cloth Body Doll Paper Weight Eyes 25"Vintage Composition Chubby Baby Doll Cute!!Antique Simon Halbig Heinrich Handwerck Germany 19" Doll Original Compo Body #2Madame Alexander Vintage Margaret O'brien 21" Composition DollMadame Alexander Margaret O'brien 17" Composition Doll - Very Nice!!Antique Cm Bergmann Germany Bisque Face Composition 13" Doll Parts/repair 1916/0Antique 1900s German Bisque Sonneberg Taufling Doll 13" With 4 Teeth Compo BodyVogue Strung Ginny 1948-1953 Composition & Hard Plastic Four (4) Dolls Tlc L@@kVintage Composition Effanbee Patsy 13" DollRare Antique Doll Motschmann Baby Eleanor St George Signed! Plus Bonus Wax CompoSuperb Set Of 12" Dionne Quints Madame Alexander - Worldwide ShippingVintage 1936 Ideal 18 Inch Shirley Temple Doll Captain January CompositionSuperb 14" Dionne Quintuplet Yvonne - Madame Alexander - Worldwide ShippingVintage Madame Alexander Doll **sonja Henie** Composition 21" Vintage 1950's Madame Alexander Composition Wendy Ann Bride Doll Nice Color!Antique Vtg 1924 Eih Horsman Composition Tynie Baby Doll Sleep Eyes Gown Rare NrRare Antique Doll Wax Over Composition Bonnet Head Antique Clothes Glass EyesAntique 29" German Bisque Socket Head Jointed Compo Doll Kusel KuhnlenzVintage Doll **shirley Temple** Composition 21" Rare Vintage 1940's Doll Crolly Dollies Compo With Tag! Cloth Body Irish Doll!1930's Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll 19"Antique Doll Bisque Head/ Composition Body To Be Repaired Or Used For Parts18" Shirley Temple Composition Doll ~for Parts Or RepairAntique 1920s Art Deco Doll Hat Stand With Composition HeadEstate - Antique J D K Kestner Doll For Restoration Bisque Head Comp. Cody 15.5"Vintage 1930's Ideal - All Composition - Shirley Temple Doll Antique German Bisque Child Doll Kestner #167 Stamped Compo Body Plaster PateVintage Composition Doll, Cloth Torso, 22" Long, With DressAttic Find Vintage 12-1/2" Buddy Lee Doll Composition Cowboy Original HatAntique Composition German Kewpie Side Glancing Eyes Doll TlcAntique 1915 Louis Amberg Composition Charlie Chaplin DollSweet!!! Antique German? Composition Doll 12 1/2 "Antique Acme Toy Co 15" Composition Sitting Angry/upset/sad Baby Boy Doll ! 1930s Composition Madame Alexander Princess Elizabeth Doll 16" Tall Lot 74Elsie Gilbert's 1946 Trudy - 3 Faces - Original Box! Tag! Letter!Rare Flask Doll - Composition Doll With Metal Container - Worldwide ShippingPatsy Baby- Effanbee- Cloth Body- Composition- Christening Gown- Vintage DollVintage/antique Effanbee Composition Doll - Patsy Ann - 18"hAntique Wood Door Of Hope Mission Doll - C1901 Shanghai Rare & Big! Vintage Shirley Temple 27" Doll Ideal Composition Tagged Wig1930's Composition Mama Doll Antique Vintage Cloth Body Pink Batiste Dress A-426 Antique Composition Scarlett O'hara Doll By Madame Alexander 18 InchesUnica Doll Head4 Old Composition Dolls For Parts Or Repair Needs Tlc!Antique Vintage Shirley Temple Composition Doll,18", Orig.16" Dionne Quint - Emilie - Madame Alexander - Worldwide ShippingVtg. Effenbee Wee Patsy Colleen Moore Composition Doll With Heart Pin & OutfitsVintage Buddy Lee Gem Chubby Kid Doll Cowboy Lee Jeans Composition Black Hat Unmarked Vintage 13" Shirley Temple Compostion Compo DollReproduction Bleuette 11" Bisque & Composition Doll Sfbj & Sailor OutfitVintage Composition Doll Lot Tlc Project Parts Dolls Ideal Black Americana More!Vintage Composition Doll Sleepy Brown Eyes 4 Teeth 13" Original Dress & ShoesBeautiful Princess- Full Body Composition Doll- Sleep Eyes- Open Mouth- 21"Snow White Doll Knickerbocker Composition 1930s Antique Collectable