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 Beautiful Antique Shirley Temple Composition Doll Plus Original ClothingVintage 13" 1937 Marama Shirley Temple Doll Must SeeRare Vintage Antique Composition Baby Mama Doll 1908-1925 Era Acme Toy Co.All Composition 13" Shirley Temple Original Condition & Clothes AntiqueAntique 12" Kestner Character Bisque Doll, Mint Kid & Composition Torso BodyHazel Twigg No. 49 Andrea Third In The Simplicity Series Vtg Composition DollEarly 20thc C.m.bergmann Bisque Head 22" Doll Made In Germany W Compo BodyVntage 1930's Tagged Shirley Temple Dress Checkered For An 18" Composition DollAntique German Bisque Doll 36" Armand Marseille Am A16m 390 Child Compo Body1930's Old Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Original Doll Wig Dress Shoes SocksVintage Unmarked Composition Baby Doll W/ Flirty Eyes & Original Clothes 20" Ltd Toy Stamp & 1900s Simon & Halbig K&r 19" Bisque Head Doll W Composition BodyAntique 19th Century George Washington Hand Painted 10½" Composition Doll Nr Yqz1945 Vogue Toddles Dolls Girl And Boy All Composition1930 Pinocchio Figaro Jiminy Cricket Knickerbocker Composition Dolls Antique TagAntique 22" Kestner Bisque Composition Doll German Original Clothes Wig Beautiful Composition Baby Shirley Temple Doll,curly Molded Hair Under Orig Wig!Vintage 1946 Effanbee Candy Kid Composition Doll Original Clothing Sleep Eyes NrPretty 16" Composition Ideal Shirley Temple DollVintage Marked Effanbee 13" Composition 1940s Chunky Candy Kid Doll So Cute NrLtd Toy Stamp & Antique 11.5" Wax Over Composition Bonnet Head DollAntique Bisque B 3 German Doll 22" Composition Body Open Mouth Goebel? Sleep EyeRare Vintage Composition Patsy Effanbee Doll Petite Patsy ?Madame Alexander Ballerina Jointed 18" Doll Vintage CompositionVintage Authentic Shirley Temple 22" Composition Doll W/ Pin & Dress 13" Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Doll - 1930s - Very Cute!Original 1930s 24" Composition Shirley Temple DollLot Of Vintage Shirley Temple 18" Composition Doll Clothes Tagged Dress Coat &Ltd Toy Stamp & 1900s Kestner 33" German Bisque Head Doll W Composition BodyVintage Composition Patsy Effanbee Doll Dolls Lot Black Parts Repair RestoreLtd Toy Stamp & 1906 Simon Halbig 28" German Bisque Head Doll W Composition BodyGerman Antique Ball Jointed Composition Body For Bisque Head Doll Signed GermanyAlexander Dionne Quint Composition Doll1930's Ideal Composition Shirley Temple Make Up Doll N Ruffled Organdy AdorableVintage Composition Patsy Type Era Doll~horsman Jane?tin Eyes~17"~tlc~dimple~Vintage 9" All Original Effanbee Patsyette Composition Doll W/wrist Bracelet NrLtd Toy Stamp & 1930's Madame Alexander 14" Compo. Dionne Quintuplet Doll MarieRare Vintage Excellent Condition Mary Hoyer Skier Doll Composition1942 Latexture Suzanne 15" Sewing Mannequin Composition Doll W/box & PatternsAntique 19" Bisque Head Doll W/ Compo Ball Jointed Body Germany Tlc ProjectAntique German Wood & Composition Dancing Doll Couple Hanging Toy Xmas OrnamentAntique Kathe Kruse 11" A/o Composition And Cloth Doll Marked With A K 21 Inch *tlc Deanna Durbin* By IdealVintage 1928 Louis Amberg Comp. Peggy-sue Or Edwina Doll Twist And Turn Body15” Antique Composition And Cloth Boy Doll Ltd Toy Stamp & 1930's Madame Alexander 11" Compo. Dionne Quintuplet Baby Doll ARare! German Antiq. Googly Eyed Felt Doll W/compo. Mask Face:hug Me Kiddies? Vintage Sleepy Eye Mary Hoyer Composition Doll 14" W/ Knit Cowgirl Out & BootsVintage Ideal *gold Doll Shoes* For Deanna Durbin / Judy Garland DollAntique Arranbee Southern Girl 20 1/2" Composition Doll Dress BeautifulEffanbee Walk Talk Sleep Doll Composition And Cloth For Parts Or RepairHeinrich Handwerck No. 3 Bisque Composition 18" Tall Doll Rare Vintage PorcelanOriginal 1930's Dopey Knickerbocker Composition Doll Vintage Disney Snow White Large Lot Of 10 Vintage Doll Wigs For Composition And Bisque DollsRare Vtg.composition Madame Alexander Dionne Emelie 14" Toddler.w/pin.tlc OutfitLtd Toy Stamp & 1930's Madame Alexander 11" Compo. Dionne Quintuplet Baby Doll CAntique 13" S.f.b.j. French Bisque Doll With Composition BodyVintage Ideal Shirley Temple Composition Doll 27 Inches 11 Antique Vintage Composition Cloth Doll Dolls Rosebud Judy Tin Eyes Repair2 Vtg. Composition Dolls 14 1/2" In Satin And Tulle Dresses Kaiser Doll Stands