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    

Rare Antique Simon & Halbig Tiny Doll 1018 Or 1078 Bisque Head Composition BodyAntique Simon & Halbig Bisque And Composition Doll German 25" LargeLtd Toy Stamp & 1946 Mme Alexander 15" Composition Princess Margaret Rose DollEarly Vintage 14" Composition Patsy Doll With Original Clothes Shoes~ Adorable!! Ideal Composition Baby Shirley Temple Doll W/ Restored Head ~Early Simon Halbig? S12h1009 Dep Bisque Composition Ball Jointed German Doll W/&Vintage Antique Composition Doll Blue Eyes 22" Tall 1940's Blonde Effanbee IdealAntique Heinrich Handwerck Composition Doll Body ~ 4~ 201 5/5Antique Bisque Socket Head Doll Composition Body Miniature Dollhouse Shoe HeelLarge Antique Cuno & Otto Dressel Composition Headed Girl Doll Original ClothesAntique Huge Chunky Character Composition Doll Body Slanted Hip 160 4/5 18" Composition "ideal Cop N.&t.co." Shirley Temple Doll Signed Tlc Antique Vtg23" Antique German Bisque Doll "cm Bergman"quality Doll Hd Perfect Good Cond.wowFrench Fashion Kid Leather Doll Body 12" L.arms 5" Long. Leather Very Soft CleanLovely 21" Bisque Kestner Doll Unusual Mark Jk2c Compo Excelsior Drp 70685 C1900Vintage Antique Composition 11" Baby Sandy Doll All Original W' Pin BackHuge Lot Of Vintage Doll Clothes For Composition And Vinyl Shirley Temple DollsVintage 1930's Boudoir Head Bed Doll Hat StandAntique Simon & Halbig Bisque And Composition Doll German 24" LargeAntique German Queen Louise 6 Bisque Head Jointed Composition Doll 22" CleanAntique Simon & Halbig S & H 30" Jointed Doll Bisque Head Composition Body Heinrich Handwerck- Pair 1920s Black Composition Dolls Sleep Eyes Negro AfricanVintage Pair Of Buddy Lee For Lee Jeans Union Made Advertising DollThree Antique German Toy / Doll Clowns With Composition HeadsComposition Ideal Doll Mary Hoyer Mayfair Antique Vtg 1939 Twist Turn Ice SkateVintage,1930's All Composition 13 Inch Sleep Eye DollVintage Antique Composition 15" Scootles Doll Original Outfit Rose O'neil Antique German 6.5" Bisque Child Doll W/composition Body ~ Upper Teeth ~ EstateAntique 26" Averill Phonograph Madame Hendron Doll With 11 Cylinder Dolly RekordVintage Vogue Composition Baby DollVintage Antique Composition Scootles Doll Rose O'neil Corduroy OverallsVintage 1930's Composition Shirley Temple Doll 16" Blue Music Note DressVintage Antique Composition 14" Baby Sandy Doll All Original W' Pin BackArmand Marsielle 390 Large Antique Bisque Composition DollVintage Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll~tlc~repair/restore~16"~Antique Doll Parts-body-no Headcomposition-7 Inch-germany?nr!Antique German J.d.k.mandein Bisque Head Composition Baby Doll 14" Estate Find1930s Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll 24" W Original ClothesHuge Chubby 27" Vintage Composition Ideal Baby Doll Nr!Vintage 1930's Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll 21"Antique Armand Marseille Germany 26" Bisque Head & Composition Wood Jointed Doll1930's Original "buddy Lee" Composition Advertising Doll 12 1/2" H. No ReserveLtd Toy Stamp & 1890s German 21" Bisque Head Doll W Composition & Wood BodyVintage Composition Japan Dionne Quintuplets Toddler DollsVintage Buddy Lee Doll Blue Jeans Outfit Clothing Antique Morimura Brothers Mb Japan 24 Inch Composition & Bisque Doll Brown EyesSweet Vntg. Ideal Plassie Doll~h. Plastic Head, Composition Arms & Legs~20"tlc~Vintage Madame Alexander 14" Composition Bride Doll Beautiful Lace Dress & TrainVintage Bisque C. M. Waltershausen Doll With Jointed Composition Body (18")1928 Louis Amberg La.&s Teenie Weenie Tiny Tots 8" Twist Waist Composition Doll Kewpie Doll , 12 In. Tall, All Composition , Very Well Loved ,* Buddy Lee Advertising Doll Cowboy With Hat 1940's Composition 13"Antique Composition Jointed 16" Dorothy Doll Sleepy Eyes Wizard Of OzVintage Pair Of Buddy Lee Composition Lee Jeans Union Made Advertising DollAdorable 9" Antique Painted Bisque Doll 191? & Composition Body Lot 3111 1/5Sweet Vintage Composition & Cloth Doll~18"~tin Eyes~tlc~1930's Ideal Composition 11" Shirley Temple Doll Original Nra Tagged DressVintage Unmarked, All Composition, Dionne Type Toddler Doll6 Antique Vintage Composition Cloth Doll Dolls Madame Hendren Horsman Mama +Antique 1924 Eih Horsman 20 Inch Tall Composition & Cloth Stuffed Body Baby Doll