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Kathe Kruse Dolls

Kathe Kruse dolls were designed and originally produced by Kathe Kruse, a German mother and wife of famous sculptor Max Kruse. In 1905, Kathe's daughter Maria wanted a doll for Christmas. Her husband Max was unimpressed by the impersonal appearance of the bisque dolls available in the shops of Berlin, so he encouraged his wife to make a doll for their daughter. Inspired, Kathe began making dolls for all of the family's children.

Word spread about Kathe's dolls, and in 1910, she was asked to exhibit her dolls in Berlin's Tietz department store. Her dolls were an overnight success and gained swift publicity. Kathe Kruse dolls had composition heads and cloth sculpted bodies that were made heavy to make them feel like real babies and children.

During World War II, the company had difficulty keeping up doll production, and at the end of the war, the original factory was absorbed into the Soviet system. Kathe Kruse's sons opened up factories in West Germany and continued to produce dolls. Kathe retired from doll making due to age. Kathe's children continued to produce Kathe Kruse dolls until 1990, when the company was sold to Andrea and Stephen Christenson. Today, Kathe Kruse dolls are produced by Hape Holding AG.

Quick Facts

  • The original doll that Kathe Kruse made for her daughter consisted of a soft towel body filled with sand and a potato for a head
  • In 1910, FAO Schwartz in New York put in an order for 150 dolls and Kathe had to recruit a painter and several seamstresses to help her produce the dolls to fill the order. She soon realized she could not produce the dolls herself and opened up her own doll factory in 1912
  • To celebrate the 130th birthday of Kathe Kruse, Kathe Kruse dolls released a limited-edition doll modeled after Kathe Kruse herself

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