By Jan Foulke
Q: I have quite a few antique dolls from the ABG factory. They are china and bisque shoulder heads, many with molded hair, all beautifully made, probably all made before 1900. You say in your books that ABG produced character heads in the 1920s. Could you be more specific about these later dolls?
A: The Alt, Beck, & Gottschalck porcelain factory was established in 1854 in Nauendorf, Germany, which was near Ohrdruf, home of the better-known Kestner & Co. porcelain factory, as well as Kling & Co. and Hertel, Schwab & Co. Simon & Halbig and Bahr & Proschild were also nearby. This is the area where the premium German porcelain products were made.
ABG had a very long history and was in operation until 1962. In addition to doll heads and porcelain doll parts, it produced porcelain bathing dolls, figurines, and other novelties. As you noted, ABG produced an excellent quality product, first in china and then also in smooth creamy bisque. It has been suggested that ABG were the inventors of biscuit porcelain — what we call bisque. This was a very important introduction, because it changed the whole doll industry from china to bisque production.
Because of its quality products, the factory grew steadily until it employed 300 factory workers and 100 families working from their homes. It shipped to quite a few European countries as well as supplying a large number of dolls to the United States. ABG was a porcelain factory, so they did not make complete dolls except for all-bisques.
In the 1920s, ABG produced a lot of character heads, many of them for the George Borgfeldt Company in New York. These dolls have heads with mold numbers in the 1300 and 1400 series. Most of them have bisque heads, but a few are ceramic or so-called “biscaloid.” They have many names that are familiar to doll collectors. It is interesting to note that these are all by American designers and were intended for the American market.
Below is a list I have compiled of ABG mold numbers for character heads produced after 1923. Other numbers may be added to these as new information comes to light. For the curious collector there is always more to be learned in the antique doll field!
ABG Mold Numbers After 1923
1369: Bye-Lo Baby by Grace Storey Putnam, socket head for composition body
1373: Bye-Lo Baby by Grace Storey Putnam, flange head for cloth body
1377: Kewpie by Rose O’Neill, flange head for cloth body
1386: Bonnie Babe by Georgene Averill, flange head for cloth body
1387: Kewpie by Rose O’Neill, shoulder head
1391: Grace Corry Rockwell, molded hair girl
1392: Grace Corry Rockwell, wigged girl Baby Peggy
1393: Bonnie Babe by Georgene Averill, socket head for composition body
1394: Baby Bo-Kaye by J.L. Kallus, flange head for cloth body
1402: Bonnie Babe by Georgene Averill, flange head for cloth body
1407: Baby Bo-Kaye by J.L. Kallus, socket head for composition body
1409: Virginia, Ginny for Short, Oscar Hitt googly
1410: Gladdie by Helen Jensen
1415: Smiling Bye-Lo Baby by Grace Storey Putnam
1418: Fly-Lo by Grace Storey Putnam
1423: Jeanne Orsini smiling character baby
1429: Jeanne Orsini smiling character baby
1430: Jeanne Orsini smiling character baby
1431: Jeanne Orsini smiling character baby
1432: Albego character baby
1435: Grace Storey Putnam Babykins
1440: Jeanne Orsini character
1148: Smiling character child
1450: Smiling character child
Jan Foulke is an authority on antique and vintage dolls, with over 40 years of experience in the field. She’s the author of the full-color reference book “Jan Foulke’s Guide to Dolls” and writes the Antique Q&A column in each issue of DOLLS magazine. Send your antique doll questions to Jan Foulke.