JDK Kestner Dolls 1820-1938 German
King of Doll Makers – Johann Daniel Kestner (JDK) of Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany began making papier mache and wood dolls and toys as early as 1816. Kestner eventually went on to employ nearly three quarters of the inhabitants of the Waltershausen region which earned him the nickname “King Kestner”.
In 1858 J.D. Kestner passed away and his grandson Adolf eventually took over the running of the company, around 1860 Kestner produced wax over papier mache doll heads, by 1860 they acquired the Ohrdruf porcelain factory and began to produce the bisque dolls known by collectors today. Kestner was one of the few German doll makers to produce the entire doll – head and body.
Kestner kid leather bodies may have a label; Celebrated “crown dolls”, Excellence, Excelsior, Marvel, Par Excellence or Perfection along with the Kestner crown and streamer label. Unique to Kestner doll heads are the plaster like pates, also most Kestner dolls do Not have pierced ears.
Kestner supplied most of the bisque heads used by Catterfelder Puppenfabrik (Carl Trautmann) doll molds 263, 264, also some bisque heads for Roullet et Decamps walking dolls; Bébé Systême and L’Intrépide Bébé and heads for Fischer, Naumann & Company. Rheinische Gummi und Celluloid-Fabrik supplied Kestner with celluloid heads (doll mold 201) and other doll parts. Kestner made all bisque Rose O’Neill Kewpie dolls, including the very rare blind closed eyes or sleeping eye Kewpie, the eyes on these Kewpie dolls were intentionally left unfinished, unpainted at the factory, marked on back of head JDK plus other words.
Antique Kestner Dolls Identified
Note click photos to enlarge to see the details
ca. 1890s Kestner JDK XI Schmitt type, 13″ bisque shoulder head doll, feathered brows, glass sleep eyes, closed mouth, kid leather body, wigged, plaster pate, doll mark XI.
Kestner JDK AT type, bisque swivel head doll 15 1/2″, feathered brows, glass sleep eyes, upper, lower painted lashes, closed mouth, kid leather body, doll mark 8
Kestner JDK 12S, bisque socket head doll, heavy feathered brows, glass sleep eyes, upper, lower painted lashes, closed mouth, composition jointed body, doll mark H made in Germany 12, 12S
ca. 1890 Kestner JDK doll mold 103 bisque socket head doll 31″, feathered brows, glass eyes, closed mouth, jointed composition body, doll mark 103.
ca. 1897+ Kestner JDK doll mold 143 bisque socket head doll 11″, feathered brows, glass sleep eyes, open mouth with two upper teeth, composition jointed body, doll mark C made in Germany 143.
ca. 1897 Kestner JDK doll mold 154 dwarf fat baby 8″, bisque shoulder head and hands, single stroke brows, glass eyes, open mouth with teeth, kid body, stitched waist and knees, doll mark 154 DEP Germany.
ca. 1898 Kestner JDK doll mold 161 bisque socket head doll 29″, thick glossy feathered bows, glass sleep eyes, open mouth with four upper teeth, jointed composition body, doll mark ? 1/2 made in Germany 7 1/2 161.
ca. 1898 Kestner JDK doll mold 162 Lady doll 18″, thick glossy multi stroke brows, real upper lashes, painted lower lashes, open mouth with upper teeth, composition jointed lady body, doll mark D made in Germany 162.
ca. 1911 Kestner JDK doll mold 171 Daisy Lettie Lane doll blonde, 18″ molded brows, real upper lashes, painted lower lashes, blue glass sleep eyes, open mouth with four upper teeth, jointed composition body doll mark C 1/2 made in Germany 7 1/2 171.
ca. 1910 Kestner JDK doll mold 172 Gibson Girl lady doll 14″, bisque shoulder head and lower arms with an up turned face, multi stroke glossy brows, glass sleep eyes, real upper eye lashes, painted lower lashes, closed mouth, kid body with rivet joints, doll mark 162.
ca. 1914 Kestner JDK Baby Jean doll 14″ face, Hilda’s sister
ca. 1910 Kestner JDK doll mold 208 Character painted eyes face
ca. 1913 Kestner JDK doll mold 221 googly eye doll 11″ face
ca. 1914 Kestner JDK doll mold 237 black Hilda doll 19″ face
ca. 1914 Kestner JDK doll mold 241 bisque 24″ face
ca. 1914 Kestner JDK doll mold 243 Oriental baby 10″ face
ca. 1914 Kestner JDK doll mold 245 white Hilda 18″ face
ca. 1916 Kestner JDK doll mold 255 Screamer doll 12″ face, doll mark OIC
ca. 1925 Kestner JDK doll mold 272 Siegfried 13″ face
1914 Kestner JDK doll mold 1070 Hilda 16 1/2″ face, solid dome head, open mouth
** Kestner doll mold 171, only the 18″ tall size doll was used as the Daisy doll as a mail in premium magazine subscription, introduced in 1911 as Lettie Lane’s actual doll, from the paper doll series Lettie Lane that ran in the Ladies Home Journal magazine from 1908 to 1912. Heinrich Handwerck‘s Bébé Cosmopolite 18″ doll was also used.
Kestner dolls were distributed by Borgfeldt , Butler Brothers, Century Doll Co., Horsman, Macy, Sears, Siegel Cooper, FAO Schwartz and probably others. Some named Kestner dolls are: Baby Jean doll (so called Hilda’s sister), Dainty Dorothy, Sally, Sammy (JDK + size number), Daisy doll mold 171 only the 18″ tall size, Hilda doll molds 237, 245, 1070, Max doll mold 186a, Moritz doll mold 186b, the all bisque Prize Baby doll mold 208 of which some labels say Brize Baby and Siegfried doll mold 272.
Kestner doll marks & mold numbers with images
Kestner resources: 1989 Kestner King of Doll Makers book by Jan Foulke, 2001 German Doll Marks book by Cieslik and Kestner doll research on the Internet for as long as this page has existed.