Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kathe Kruse Dolls

Do you ever finally notice something that's been under your nose the entire time, and then wonder where in the world you've been?!?  And then you fall so completely and utterly in love that you know you're heading down a slippery slope, but trying to stop is probably pointless?  Yeah.  That might be me.  And Kathe Kruse dolls.  Have you heard of them?  Now, don't get me wrong...I have known about Kathe Kruse dolls forever, and I even have an antique one in my collection!  I love it to pieces!  However, they can be VERY expensive (hundreds to thousands of dollars) so I've only looked at them in passing, sighed, and realized I would probably never have any more in my collection.  And in case you're wondering, I was gifted my antique one by a very, dear, older friend in my doll club who wanted to give me her doll.  Yes.  I just about passed out when that happened, but I survived to tell you about it!  So here I am, years later, when suddenly I came across a newer Kathe Kruse doll on Ebay.  I had seen the newer dolls at doll shows many times, but I never thought I could like them as much as my antique one.  So I passed them by,  But then, like dolls sometimes do, this little one's face "spoke" to me.  It reached out across the internet and just sucked me right in.  And before I knew it, I hit the "buy it now" button.  Oh, that is a dangerous button, I'll tell you!  But here is what I received just a few days later:
Isn't she sweet?
She stands 14" tall and is completely made of cloth, except for her head, which is a type of plastic.  The antique dolls had molded, cloth heads.
She has a human hair wig.  Look at those darling braids!
Her clothing is impeccably made with cotton fabrics and trims.  Everything is neatly sewn and finished.
She wears a cotton, knit "onesie" and a half-slip underneath her dress.
Here is what her body construction looks like, in case you were interested (I know I always was, before I owned one).  She is made just like the antique Kathe Kruse dolls, with disc jointed legs and arms loosely sewn to the shoulders under a cloth shoulder-plate.  Her body is very firmly stuffed with reindeer hair!
Kathe Kruse dolls are usually signed with their date of manufacture on their right foot--in this case, it says "Mai 85", which in German means May 1985.
Her left foot bears the signature of Kathe Kruse (she died in 1968, so this is obviously a printed copy of her signature)
On antique dolls, these dates and signatures are many times illegible, or rubbed away with time.
The newer Kathe Kruse dolls all came with names; however, since mine didn't come with her original box, I don't know what it is.
Isn't this little tin buggy adorable? I brought it home from a doll show a few weeks ago.
Check out the graphics on the wheels!  I am just a sucker for baby buggies, especially cute ones.
I have not named my little Kathe Kruse yet.  I think she must have a German name, and since I am German, born to German immigrant parents, this should be no problem for me.  Except that it is.  I think it might just take a little time before the perfect name pops into my head.
Now, in case you're wondering, here is some brief info about Kathe Kruse, and how she came about making dolls:
Käthe Kruse, a German dollmaker, was born Katharina Simon in 1883 and had eight children.  When she was expecting her second child, her eldest daughter wanted a baby to hold, so she made her a little doll with a potato for a head and towel filled with sand for the body.  Her daughter loved this "baby", so from this concept she went on to design a cloth doll that would become a major best seller.  The original Kathe Kruse dolls were made completely from cloth--their cloth heads were pressed in a mold and then oil painted.  They were all completely handmade and extremely high quality dolls.  They were very expensive, even back then.  Her first doll came out in 1911, and her factory is still creating dolls to this day.
Here are some examples of her antique dolls:
I could go on and on with photos, but I stopped myself at four.  If you are at all interested in her dolls, just google them or go to Pinterest.  Her dolls are the kind that make my heart skip a beat. I think it is because their faces are so childlike and innocent.  Kathe Kruse had five points which her dolls had to fulfill, here in her own words: 
 A child for the child, safe and warm.
  • My dolls are alive, they are little children which people like to love.
  • The secret to the dolls are to make the child’s face realistic, so that it radiates softness, emotions and importance.
  • The dolls call on people’s emotions. They ask and dare you to start a conversation with the gentle doll’s personality.
  • The doll is a friend for life and can always be fixed in the factory.
    A Kathe Kruse doll passes through the hands of 8-10 workers before it is finished.  Over 100 years have passed since the first Kathe Kruse dolls hit the market, and these dolls are still very loved by children and adult collectors alike.
    And because I couldn't leave well enough alone, I now have a another Kathe Kruse doll on her way to me, via Ebay.  (Oh, Ebay, you are bad, very, very BAD!)  Here is her picture, taken from the seller's listing:
    I don't know her name either, but she is 18" tall and was made in 1982.  I'm already thinking about making her a sweet, little dress with vintage style fabrics to replicate maybe a 1930's style outfit.
    I am also in the process of making an outfit for my antique, Kathe Kruse doll, and as soon as I'm done with that, I'll show you!  She has been naked for a long time, and it's taken me that much time to figure out exactly how I've wanted to dress her.  The picture below is an example of what my doll looks like--however, my doll is in much more "loved" condition than this one--her facial painting is worn off so that her features are very light.  She is still beautiful, though, in my opinion!  This is Kathe Kruse's first doll, called simply "Doll I".
    Precious, right?
    Well, I will leave you with one, last picture of my little one, and bid you all a nice evening!


    1. They are darling! I love them, but will resist them for now!

    2. I love them too! I have a little doll buggy a lot like your's. Mine is red and the wheels are wooden. It is a fun little toy for doll and children. :o)

      1. Oh, it's a slippery slope, I tell you. You can't just own one! I actually have another Kathe Kruse arriving soon...she was calling my name when I spotted her on Ebay...what was I to do?!

    3. Had to go back to this thread. After literally years of trying to win an auction for one of these beauties, I finally did today! And for a great price! She is 14 inches tall, which is a good size for my space. I can hardly wait for her to get here. :o)

      1. Oh, yay! How exciting. Was it the sweet, little blonde doll named Clara? If so, I saw her too and thought she was adorable! You will love her. But be can't just have one! She will need a big sister, and maybe a are on a slippery slope for sure! I hope you post about her once she arrives. Which reminds me, I think I still need to post about a cute, 12" one that I got awhile back. They are addictive!