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    

Antique German Revalo Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 16" Glass EyesAntique German Queen Louise Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 26" Tall Glass EyesAntique German Columbia Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 19" Glass EyesNr!! 26" Composition Cloth Doll Boom Boom Mccutiekins Big Fat Baby Compo AntiqueVintage 1920’s *cubeb Smoker~boudoir Doll* For Attention15" Vintage Antique Bisque Head Composition Nippon Japan Character Baby Doll21" 1860s Jumeau/french Steiner Type Chunky Composition Doll BodyEih 1920s Composition Antique Vintage Dimples Doll Original 16Molded Hair Schoenhut; Pink Ribbon; 16" Tall1930's Shirley Temple Composition Doll 13" Ideal Nra Tag Effanbee Mama Lovums Happy Baby Large Composition Cloth Body Antique 27" Doll Vintage Ideal Composition Doll 25" Shirley Temple Dress Mohair C. 193525" Heinrich Handwerck Simon & Halbig Antique Doll Composition & Bisque Nice!Vintage 40s Composition 14" Madame Alexander Wendy Bride Doll Unplayed With15" Antique Bisque Character Doll A 5 M Compo BodyShirley Temple Composition 13" Doll Dress, 1935 Music Note Dress, BlueAntique 23 Inch Bisque & Composition Doll HandwerckAntique German Armand Marseille Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 17" Glass EyesAntique German Ball-jointd Doll Body Wood/composition1937 Madame Alexander Princess Elizabeth Composition Doll 24" Talk Box TeethAntique German I-2 Bisque Head Joint Composition 18Antique German Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 23" Tall Glass EyesFlirty / Sleep Eyes Doll; Dark Skin Antique Effanbee Composition Flirty Eyes Sweetie Pie 16 1/2" Baby Doll Beautiful30" Effanbee Luvums Composition Toddler Doll Circa 1920'sAntique German Bisque Doll W,composition Jointed Body..stamped Germany 152 0 !!19" Antique, Composition And Cloth Baby Doll, With Bow Loop.Replica Antique French J. Steiner Paris Bebe A15 Doll Antique Composition Body Gorgeous Boudoir Doll; Absolutely Stunning Dress 32" All OriginalLtd Toy Stamp & 1930s Ideal 15" Composition Shirley Temple Doll W Original WigVintage Effanbee Composition Baby Patsy Babyette Sleeps Eyes 1940's 9" DollVintage 31" Boudoir Doll W-k-s & Modern Pillow 13"23" Antique Bisque Head German Dressel Jutta Doll W Replica Composition Body TlcSweet Vintage Composition & Cloth Baby Hendren Doll~20"~tlc~needs Restoration~23" 1890s German Bisque Karl Hartman Bisque Doll & Composition BodyVintage Madame Alexander Margaret Rose 14" Composition DollAntique Composition Boudoir Hand Painted Doll Cloth Body Hand Painted French Vtg30" Antique Composition Old Composition Doll23" Heinrich Handwerck William Goebel Antique Doll Composition & Bisque PartsMadame Alexander Composition Jane Withers Doll 17", All Original Clothing/shoesAntique Germany Recknagel Bisque Porcelain Head 7" Doll Composition Body Vtg Gc!Ideal 20" Shirley Temple Composition Doll Prototype Mark Cop Ideal N&t Co.1934Weird Creepy Vintage Antique? Composition Doll Large Real Teeth Damaged1928 Antique Horsman Composition Baby Dimples 26" DollVintage 24" Effanbee Mama Happy Baby Doll 1949 Hard Plastic Compo. Cloth BodyComposition 14" Looks Like A Mary Hoyer Doll, But No Markings1928 Antique Effanbee Composition Lovums 23" Mama DollVintage Composition Black Negro Character Doll With Earings + Clothes19" Old Vintage Antique Composition Cloth Effanbee Rosemary Mama Child Doll TlcAntique George Borgfeldt 24" Bisque And Composition DollVintage Composition Shirley Temple #13 DollVintage Doll 17 Inch Made In GermanyIdeal Toni Doll Tagged Sign Tag Clothes 15" Vintage 1948 Composition Home Girl ALovely Pair Of Original Composition Campbells Soup Twins 1940's Stands & ExtrasAntique Vintage Buddy Lee Rider Composition Doll Very As Is Antique Composition Baby Doll Tlc Crier Painted Hair 23" Hugefelt Tongue TeethAntique Vintage Shirley Temple 13" Composition Doll ~ Needs Tlc Or Use For PartsVoile Drop Waist Dress Antique Fabric 4 Old Compo Bisque Doll French GermanAntique 27" Compostion French Boudoir Bed Doll