Theriault’s January Marquis Doll Auction Breaks Record Prices
Annapolis, MD -- January 22, 2012
The doll was discovered in an old trunk, tucked under a second story eaves, in the home of a noble Spanish family who had left their ancestral estate in the early 1900s, emigrating to a mountain village in Peru. It had lain there, in pristine condition, wearing its elaborate trachten costume whose colors and fabrics remained as fresh and vibrant as they first appeared more than a century before. The doll, model 104, was the extremely rare smiling character from the Kammer and Reinhardt art reform doll series, sculpted by the renowned Berlin artist, Arthur Lewin-Funcke whose own daughter sat as a model for the doll. At Theriault’s Marquis catalog doll auction on January 12 in Newport Beach, California, the doll sold for $212,800 (including buyer’s premium of 12%) which is believed to be a new world record for a German doll sold at auction. Only two or three other models of the doll are known to exist.
Highlighted in the auction were the collections of five important early collectors, and although the auction was officially named “Stars”, in honor of both the dolls and the collectors who had owned then, Stuart Holbrook noted to the large attending audience that around the Theriault’s headquarters, the auction was affectionately known as “The 5 M” auction, in homage to these five ladies whose first names each began with the letter M. The collections included those of Mary Young, Mary Marxen, Mildred Adkins, Margaret George, and Melody Kriteman. Their collections differed, some highly specialized, some eclectic, yet each offered a galaxy of stars.
The prize dolls of Mary Young, featured in Theriault’s auction, encompassed very rare miniature dolls including mignonettes and petite French dolls, as well as American folk art, for which she had a special affection. Notable examples included a 26” Leo Moss black baby with classic tears that sold for $7500 and a portrait doll of an aged black man by Leo Moss that quickly moved to $9000. A Moravian cloth doll known as “Maggie Bessie” in original clothing doubled its high estimate at $13,000, and a quartet of Alabama babies all surpassed high estimates, a pair of 22” brown and blue-eyed models selling at $2700 and $3100. A 6” miniature bisque doll by Kestner with Bru-like kid body soared to $2100 (pre-sale $800/1200); all-bisque Mademoiselle Louise, at 7 ½”, even carried her own little miniature calling cards, and nearly doubled her high pre-sale estimate ($1700/2500) topping at $4000; an exquisite 10” Bebe Brevete by Bru rushed to $14,000 (pre-sale $8000/12,000); a 5 ½” all-bisque mignonette with rare jointed elbows went to $3400 (pre-sale $2000/2500), a rare large 11” all-bisque French mignonette soared to $5200 (pre-sale $2000/2800), the 9” paper mache doll with hidden ink-script name “Sophia Pease”, dated 1833, was $3000 (pre-sale $1200/1800), and an 8” German all-bisque doll by Simon and Halbig with trunk and trousseau was $4000 (pre-sale $1500/2500).
The early German sculpted-hair bisque and porcelain dolls from the collection of Mildred Adkins were prominent in the Theriault auction, and had collectors gasping in astonishment, both at their beauty and their rarity. “I had no idea these dolls existed” said one collector “until I watched your pre-auction videos, and, wow, they are even more impressive in person”. The dolls were the mid-19th century works of German dollmakers during the early years of bisque doll production, and mirror the French poupees being created in Paris at the same time. Models included a pair of glass-eyed bisque ladies with elaborately-sculpted bonnets and bodices, which sold for $4000 and $8000, a brown-haired porcelain lady by KPM topping at $8500, a bisque head lady with rare black hair and elaborately-wrapped head scarf at $3600, an early lady with brown sculpted hair in the style known as Queen Victoria at $3400, and dozens more, each mostly surpassing pre-sale estimates.
Porcelain half dolls, popularly known as pin-cushion dolls, appeared nearly a half-century later. Their quality ranged from the simple dime-store dolls that appear most commonly in today’s market, to the luxurious and extremely rare models that peopled the collection of Melody Kriteman of Massachusetts. These included dolls from the so-called Medieval series by Dressel and Kister such as the lady with falcon that topped at three-times the high estimate at $2800, to the Egyptian lady with sideways-extended arms that raced to double the estimate at $7000, to the Lady with Wreath by Rudolstadt at $2100, and even included a fabulous selection of Art Deco high-style models including Dancing Girls at $5200 and the Dancing Couple as a lamp at $3500. Theriault’s 860-lot auction included nearly 100 of these rare objects.
The Margaret George collection from Atlanta, which had been packed away for many years, contained many treasures including a superb portrait bebe by Jumeau in original silk Jumeau couturier costume that topped at $24,000. The Mary Marxen collection encompassed every era and genre with only the caveat that each doll reflected the best of what its class, and the auction proved the point. A pair of 1940-era Kathe Kruse dolls sold at $7000, the first lot of the auction weekend which was a Sonneberg look-alike Bru sold for nearly six-times its estimate at $6000, and her felt character boy by Lenci soared to $2400 (pre-sale $800-1000). Other important dolls at Theriault’s auction included the model 203 from the Jumeau character series of 1890s selling at $75,000, a pair of German bisque characters Max and Moritz by K*R that cavorted their way to $50,000, the French automaton “Pierrot Ecrivain” by Vichy selling at $45,000, various Bru bebes including an ebony black-complexioned classic model at $21000, a café-au-lait complexioned model at $16,000 and other bebe models including Brevete, Circle/dot, and Bru Jne bebes at final bids ranging from $19000-26000. Bisque art character dolls by German firms included two black-complexioned models, 1301 and 1358 by Simon and Halbig selling at $15,500 and $16,000, the rare mystery models 128 at 15”, and 128 at 20”, attributed to Simon and Halbig at $10,000 and $27000 respectively, and the glass-eyed version of the 149 model in original trachten costume at $15,000. The latter doll had resided in her storage trunk for the past century, alongside the rare and record-breaking 104 model by Kammer and Reinhardt. They sold to the same bidder, and the auction crowd murmured appreciatively that the two dolls will remain together.
The entire three days of auctions can be viewed at www.theriaults.com. A few copies of the 300 page two-volume catalog are still available (visit www.theriaults.com or telephone 800-638-0422). Videos showing many of the dolls in the auction can be viewed on YouTube. Theriault’s next cataloged doll auction is scheduled for the weekend of April 13 and 14 in Los Angeles. The collection of the late Evelyn Ackerman, prominent collector and doll author, will be featured in an exclusive showcase auction on Sunday, April 14. For more information about the auctions email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-638-0422.
1. The American black folk dolls attributed to Leo Moss are avidly sought and appreciated by both doll and folk art collections. The character, with signature tears falling down his cheeks, sold for $7500 at Theriault’s January doll auction.
2. Details of the Egyptian-themed porcelain half doll included figural mounts on her gold head-dress, elaborate necklace, and unique pose. She pointed her way to a $7000 winning bid.
3. The star of “Stars”, as Theriault’s auction catalog was named, was featured on the cover, has an extraordinary and rare doll, and sold for $212,800 (including 12% buyer’s premium), believed to be a world auction record for a German doll. He was model 104 from the K*R art character reform series of 1910.
4. The art character series of Emile Jumeau, introduced in 1890s, included this 203 model of a wide-beamed smiling child which sold for $75,000.
5. The mischievous urchins of Kammer and Reinhardt, marketed as Max and Moritz, and said to represent the Katzenjammer comic strip children of the early 20th century, danced their way to $50,000 at Theriault’s January auction.