Lisa over at www.onceuponadollcollection.blogspot.com recently wrote a post on Schoenhut dolls, and encouraged me to write a post of my own. So here goes!
The Schoenhut doll company was started by Albert Schoenhut, a German immigrant who came from a long line of toymakers. He settled in Philadelphia and made his living at first by making small wooden toys (like the circus animals shown in the toy ad above) and musical toys, such as child-sized pianos.
His first dolls came on the market in 1911. What made them so unique was the fact that they were completely made out of wood and used a patented steel spring hinge in their joints. This allowed the dolls to be placed in just about any position and hold a pose--even standing on their heads!
The first dolls had what we in the doll world now call "character faces"--faces that reflected the characteristics of real children.
Isn't she a sweetie?
Patriotic fellow with carved hair
Another carved hairstyle with a headband
Some Schoenhut dolls came with wigs. Notice the holes in her feet? These were so that the dolls could be placed on a special stand specifically made for them. I have never seen one these original stands--they must have been the first thing to get separated from the doll and thrown away.
This type of Schoenhut is known as a "bonnet head", because she has a bonnet carved into her head.
This mischievous looking fellow was one of the only a few named dolls, known as "Snickelfritz".
Unfortunately, just like with their bisque counterparts, the character dolls were never really popular. Children preferred to play with the more generic looking "dolly-faced" dolls. Schoenhut phased out the characters and focused on these types of faces instead. I happen to have two of them:
This little sweetie stands a diminutive 14" high. I bought her a few years ago from another collector in my club because I just fell in love with her small size! (the doll buggy is a reproduction of an antique Marklin buggy, and the baby dolls inside are all-compo babies from the 1930's)
She is in very good shape all around, with one, small scuff mark on her cheek. Because these dolls were painted wood, many of them have suffered some kind of paint wear. My doll wears a replaced wig, similar to what the original might have been. Her clothing is not original.
Like the majority of these dolls, she has painted eyes. Schoenhut did patent a doll with moveable, wooden eyes in 1921--oh, how interesting I think that would be to see!
Here you can see how this doll is jointed. Remember, she is completely made of wood with metal, spring-hinged joints, so she has more weight to her than an ordinary doll. She is jointed at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. She can completely stand on her own...
...and even do a headstand!
She has a paper label on her upper back, and a stamp on her head. I'm not sure what the penciled numbers "55-5" are that are written on her neck...maybe a price?
Complete back view
Ready for Easter!
I have never named this cutie...maybe I should remedy that?
I love her cute, pouty cheeks
My other Schoenhut...a cute little fellow also known as "Nature Baby". He is approximately 15" tall.
He differs from his sister in the fact that he does not have a wig, and he has fewer joints. He has the typical, 5 piece bent-limb baby body, jointed at the neck, shoulders, hips, and wrists.
He also has a stamp on his neck and a paper label on his back.
Here they are together...you can see that he is chunkier and much more baby-like than his "big" sister. She stands an inch shorter on a child-like body. But I still think they are cute together!
There is much more to the Schoenhut doll than I have described here, so go check out a book on them from your local library or do a bit of research on the internet. Some of the dolls are really fascinating! I would love, love, LOVE to own one of the character faced dolls someday, but they are more rare and sell for thousands of $$$. The dolly faced Schoenhuts, however, can still be acquired for reasonable prices on Ebay and at local shows, depending on the price. I think I paid about $125 for my baby several years ago, and maybe $300 for the little girl. (I really need to start writing these figures down because I don't do a very good job of remembering them!)
Schoenhuts are wonderfully, sturdy dolls that have a unique body articulation and an interesting history. I highly recommend having at least one in your antique doll collection.
One last picture to amaze you with their poseability:
Have a nice Tuesday!