J.D. Kestner all-bisque doll with original wig and dress.
J.D. Kestner all-bisque doll with original wig and dress.

By Jan Foulke

Q: I found this little doll, just 5.5 inches tall, at the thrift store for only $7. No one there knew anything about dolls. Could you tell me something about her? Is she an antique doll or a reproduction?

A: You’ve found a genuine antique doll for a remarkable price! Collectors refer to this type as a German all-bisque doll. She was very likely made in the porcelain factory of J.D. Kestner in Ohrdruf, Germany, around 1900 to 1910. That factory had a reputation for creating very fine items, and Kestner dolls are still very popular with collectors today.

This type of doll is often called a “pocket doll” because of the small size. A little girl could carry it around in her pocket, and wherever she went, she would have her little doll to play with. Your doll is particularly nice because of her original condition.

She has a wonderful full blond mohair wig in Rembrandt style, with bangs and curls. These original wigs are very desirable and sometimes difficult to find, as moths loved to eat the mohair. It is also a plus that she has her original dress. It is simple but charming, with its decorative stitching and lace trim. Original clothing is always preferred by experienced collectors. On today’s doll market, your doll would bring about $65 to $75 at auction, if the bisque is perfect with no cracks, chips, or repairs.

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.

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