Colloquially the terms porcelain doll, bisque doll and china doll are sometimes used interchangeably. But collectors, when referring to antique dolls, make a distinction between china dolls, made of glazed porcelain, and bisque dolls, made of unglazed porcelain. When referring to contemporary dolls the terms porcelain and bisque are sometimes used interchangeably.
The origin of dolls starts back in Prehistory with the creation of plush toys or wooden toys, originally intended for use by children and often created at home. This tradition can be traced back as far as 400BC but these early dolls all had a common trait in that they were made as solid items, with non-movable arms and legs. Around 1400BC however, coinciding with a massive increase in Corporal punishment both in the home and in the newly founded schools, there was a vast revolution.
According to rumour it was around this time in the 1400's when a Toymaker in Germany made the first doll created with movable arms and legs, and also at the same time the first doll to have a blatant 'backside'. The advent of these dolls, starting with plush toys with bent legs, then legs attached seperately and finally in the 1700's as jointed legs was started when toymakers observed for the first time How children played with their dolls. In the most case, these did not involve much abuse of the doll itself but the use of dolls as substitutes for playmates and for use by the child to re-enact punishments and parenting scenarios with themselves playing the adult.
Over many years of evolution, since the first realisation that dolls were used by children to represent children, great effort began in creating dolls that could plausibly pass as young children. Starting in 1837, created by Alt Beck & Gottschalck toy company, the first Porcelian dolls were created. Referred to as Parian Doll the first dolls created for children were made with head and limbs created from untinted white porcelain, with the main body created from heshen or a cotton body stuffed in the manner of old fashioned soft toys. Designed with moulded facial features and hair these dolls were the first created to represent young children with any level of accuracy and over the next 200 years were produced by this company and a number of others in a variety of sizes, varying from nine inches in height to 27 inches (The height and proportions of a real four year old child.
Dolls for adults
The creation of Realistic porcelain dolls in the 1700's spread out from Germany and its surrounding countries with some vigour. With dolls being created at sizes both practical for children as well as for adults, Porcelain Dolls were in history the first dolls created for all ages. Moving on from Parian Dolls, who were realistic only with their clothes on, new forms of dolls were eventually created. Referred to as Bisque Doll's, the new form or porcelain doll had a body entirely made from moulded porcelain, taking over the market around the 1860, and their production continued until after World War I. These dolls wore wigs, typically made from dyed horse hair or human hair, were Dressed in modern fashions, had painted glass or clay eyes and were made to represent grown up women. These dolls came from French companies like Jumeau, Bru, Gaultier, Rohmer, Simone and Huret and were marketed to rich families, with the larger dolls often containing a higher level of detail, some dolls from the company being found to have realistic moulding of breasts, buttocks and body figures.
From the same era Dolls have even been found with realistic depiction of genitals, although most of these dolls are not marked with company trademarks or information.
Dolls for children
Up until the mid-1800s, most dolls were made to represent grown-ups, and when child-like dolls first appeared it was a big shift. By the late 1800s child-like dolls overtook the market. Foremost among these were the French Bébés from doll makers like Jumeau, Bru, Steiner and Rohmer, which grew in popularity between the 1860s and 1880s. These were high quality dolls made with great skill. Like the earlier fashion dolls of the early 80's they were dressed in contemporary children's clothing. The majority of these dolls were created using a combination of Bisque and Parian techniques, often times containing a cloth, plush style waist and movable legs, the main move behind this being the number of children (especially girl's) who would spank the dolls and pretend the doll was a naughty child.
Changes in the 1900s
At the turn of the century, however, creation of porcelain and moulded dolls split ways. The company Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets made dolls for children as well as adults. The company created the first durable combination dolls with polished wood bodies for children. Larger models (in the form of adults and children) were made for adult collectors. These had varying levels of realism. The so-called character faced dolls had high-quality clothes, painted glass eyes, and realistic hair made from cotton, synthetics or dyed horse hair.
Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets was also a pioneer in the use of plastic and rubber in manufacturing which forged a trend in modern doll making.
While the cheeper ranges of dolls referred to as penny dolls have and ways will remain cheep, intended for easy access as toys, The original Bisque dolls with their moulded bodies, realistic forms and even at times realistic form genitalia were in many ways the original form of sex doll. Designed to be dressed, undressed, petted and even spanked these dolls remained in function as a primary form of erotic doll until the late 1950's when cheeper and easier to model materials began becomming available. Even in the modern environment, Bisque dolls can sell between $500 and $50,000 US dollars with the level of realism, detail and clothing all paying to raise the price - making Porcelain dolls the most expensive sex toy a collector can buy and forging the way for sex dolls and spanking dolls of the current age.
- A Brief History of Antique Dolls, Part II - About.com
- An Introduction to Bisque Dolls - About.com
- History of Toys on 'Dreamgirl'
- Carmel Doll Shop
- Poupendol Dolls and collectables
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