Antique Metal Head Dolls 1861-1930s
France has the first recorded patent for making dolls heads and limbs of metal in 1861 by René Poulin. In 1876 Lucien Vervelle, of France, secured a patent for dolls heads made of metal, too. 1898 Sommereisen obtained a French patent making hollow aluminum doll heads.
Beginning in 1886 the majority of metal head dolls were made in Germany, many by doll maker’s Max Dittrich & Joseph Schön (1886-1890) and Robert Hiller (1887-1890).
German metal doll heads were made from stamped sheet metal that were welded together and then painted. The heads were made primarily as a replacement head for bisque or China doll heads that were easily broken.
German word metallpuppenköpfe means metal doll head maker.
Antique Metal Head Dolls & Makers Identified
1888-1930s Buschow & Beck, German the most prolific of the German metal head doll makers. American partner was Alfred Vischer (marked Minerva). Buschow & Beck metal head dolls are used on the Sears brand name of Wearwell dolls, Knock Out dolls and Violet dolls. Buschow & Beck’s metal head dolls also came without molded painted hair so the doll could wear a wig, glass eyes, open mouth.
Buschow & Beck doll mark Minerva over a helmet symbol
1898-1930s Karl Standfuss, German, 20″ JUNO metal shoulder doll head, molded painted blonde hair, painted facial features, closed mouth, on a cloth or kid leather body, Karl Standfuss doll mark crown symbol over JUNO.
1901-1910 Alfred Heller, German
Diana metal head doll, 16″ tall, metal shoulder head doll with molded painted blonde wavy hair, multi stroke eyebrows, stationary glass eyes, painted upper and lower eye lashes, open mouth, on cloth body, doll mark Diana D.R.G.M 160638. Some Heller metal head Diana dolls have a solid dome head, applied ears, meant for a wig, glass eyes, open mouth.
1902-1904 Metal Doll Company of Pleasantville, NJ, USA, made entire dolls of thin steel sheet metal, fully jointed steel body, some have jointed wrists and ankles, strung with steel springs in 12 and 18″ tall, called All Steel Doll, distributed by Borgfeldt, doll mark Patent Pending Made by Metal Doll Co. Pleasantville, N.J.
1919-1920 Aluminum Doll Head Works USA, made aluminum doll heads and hands on composition ball jointed or cloth stuffed bodies, doll mark unknown or unmarked.
1917-1930 Atlas Doll & Toy Company USA, made all metal dolls, metal doll shoulder heads, sleep eyes, wigged and metal arms on cork stuffed bodies, Atlas doll mark A.D.T. Co. In 1919 Hug Me Kid all metal doll with sleep or stationary eyes, molded hair or wigged. In 1928 Dolly Jump Rope doll who came in a metal push cart.
1918-1921 Giebeler Falk Doll Corporation USA, used the trade name Gie-Fa, they made an aluminum head with a wooden body phonograph doll named Primadonna, who has a clockwork mechanical mechanism in the dolls torso, a crank handle in the neck works the turntable located in the top of the head, dolls with a metal head, hands and feet with wooden or composition bodies and entire dolls made of all aluminum. Doll marks Gie Fa Trademark New York, NY., Aluminum Heads ~ Hands Guaranteed Unbreakable or the initial G inside a six pointed star symbol US Pat.
ca. 1920s Horsman made a metal head doll marked Horsman on a composition jointed body, but we have been unable to find any reference or documentation as to his name.
1921-1935 Bucherer Doll Company – their dolls have a composition head on an all metal jointed body. Dolls are well marked on the torso of the body Made in Switzerland.