By Jan Foulke

Q: I am just getting interested in antique dolls. I found this little one in an antique store, but the seller didn’t know anything about it. It is just about 6 inches tall. It is marked S&H 1160 on the back of the shoulder plate. Can you tell me if this is an antique doll or a reproduction? Do you know how old it is? And the maker?

A dollhouse doll with a Simon & Halbig bisque head
A dollhouse doll with a Simon & Halbig bisque head

A: You have found a beautiful antique doll! It was made in Germany by the porcelain factory of Simon & Halbig in Grafenhain. S&H was founded in 1869 and soon became well-known for producing fine porcelain products. It wasn’t long before this factory gained worldwide recognition. Simon & Halbig was a porcelain factory only. They made only bisque heads, arms, and legs, along with all-bisque dolls. They did not make complete dolls (except the all-bisque models). They sold their heads and parts to doll factories or assemblers which produced the completed dolls.

Mold 1160, which is a shoulder head model, was first registered in 1894 and was still available in the 1920s. It is a favorite with collectors because of its sweet face, which features inset glass eyes with delicately painted eyelashes, tapered eyebrows and a closed mouth. Larger models had pierced ears.

Simon & Halbig's 1160 bisque head.
Simon & Halbig’s 1160 bisque head.

Original wigs, which are very desirable, were made of mohair, often blond, with a center part, side curls, and coiled braids in the back. Collectors refer to this model as “Little Women,” but this is just a made-up designation. It was never marketed as such. Usually this model is found on a cloth body with bisque arms and legs with molded black heeled boots with straps and white stockings with painted garters. But the types of bodies and limbs on these dolls will vary according to which company assembled them.

Also, many of the heads were purchased separately and put on homemade bodies or whatever bodies might have been readily available. Most of the production was smaller dolls for use in dollhouses and for small novelty items. About 13 inches is the largest I have seen of this design.

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.

Read the rest of Jan Foulke’s Antique Q&A column in DOLLS April 2020 issue.

Subscribe now to get access to DOLLS online archive of past issues!