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Porcelain dolls became popular as children's toys in the mid-1800s. The first porcelain dolls were made of
china, which is porcelain that has been glazed to have a shiny look. China was used to make doll heads, hands, and
feet beginning about 1840. Around 1860, German dollmakers began making doll heads out of unglazed porcelain.
This style of porcelain, called bisque, gave dolls a matte finish. Bisque dolls usually only had a bisque head, with
bodies, hands, and feet made out of a variety of other materials.
France and Germany were the primary producers of bisque dolls in the second half of the 19th century. French
dollmakers who specialized in bisque included Jumeau, Bru, and Simone, and Huret, among others. The first bisque
dolls that French dollmakers produced were fashion dolls that represented adult women and were used to advertise
the latest dress fashions. Toward the end of the 19th century, these dollmakers produced the French "bébé" dolls,
child-faced bisque dolls that became very popular as toys for children.
German dollmakers were able to compete with the French in the late 1800s by producing bisque dolls at lower
prices. The Thuringia region of Germany was well known for its clay deposits suitable for the manufacture of
porcelain. Dollmakers such as Kestner, Armand Marseille, Simon and Halbig, and Kämmer & Reinhardt produced
bisque dolls from this region.
Bisque replaced china as the porcelain style of choice because bisque could be more easily painted,
resulting in doll faces with more realistic-looking skin color
In the 20th century, porcelain doll production moved to the United States and Japan. Porcelain doll popularity
waned in the '20s as composition became the material of choice for dollmakers
In the '80s, porcelain once again became popular as a dollmaking material when collector dolls emerged on the
doll market. Cathay Collection porcelain dolls are an example of modern-day collector dolls