“The Great Man’s Doll” Fetches $160,000
Annapolis, MD -- July 18, 2010
Annapolis, MD -- July 18, 2010
“The Great Man’s Doll” Fetches $160,000 About 1860, when France’s arguably greatest poet and author wrote Toilers of the Sea, he commissioned a doll from the prestigious Parisian doll firm of Huret to serve as inspiration for his heroine. Later the doll was gifted to the daughter of his friend and it was she always referred to it as, simply, “the great man’s doll”. The doll was eventually given to Hugo’s beloved granddaughter Jeanne along with a doll trunk bearing the “Jeanne” brass name plate and a vast trousseau of costumes and accessories. On Sunday, July 18 the doll was auctioned by Theriault’s, the world-renown antique doll auction firm, for $160,000, doubling its high pre-sale estimate. The doll will reside in a place of honor in an important New England collection.
Other dolls with known provenance were also featured in the Theriault’s auction which took place in downtown Chicago. The Annapolis, Maryland based firm conducts its important doll auctions at major cities around the United States; last summer’s auction in Atlanta saw a doll auctioned for a new world auction record of $263,000. Provenance-bearing dolls included “Juliette’s Poupee”, a rare molded leather body poupee by Victor Clement that had resided in the chateau of de la Hogue-Moreau nearby Paris for more than a century before coming to auction, as well as “Miss Minnie”, a smiling poupee by Bru who had arrived from Paris about 1870 for a young American girl. Both dolls were featured along with aged photographs of their original child owners and Miss Minnie also owned a tintype of herself taken nearly a century and a half ago. They sold, respectively, for $14000 and $6000.
Dolls from the collection of Anne Rice, the noted American author of Interview with the Vampire and other novels were also featured in the auction. Of special note was a 31” Bru bebe from the classic era that was written about by the author in her novel, Taltos, described as “a bisque doll of impeccable standards”. That she was, collectors agreed, bidding her to $40,000.
The auction featured nearly 500 lots sold in the one-day session, with variety ranging from a Schoenhut circus and various animals (the circus sold for $600, a gorilla went for $1900, hyena for $1800 and a wolf for $2000) to a German bisque portrait of a Chinese baby in original silk costume from Gump’s of San Francisco topping at $9000 to a set of Alexander Dionne Quintuplets along with Doctor Dafoe and the Nurse that soared to a record price of $5250, to 1922 Bleuette in original Costume du Bain for $2800. A rare Rohmer poupee went for $16000, a character boy by Bawo and Dotter reached $9000, and a closed mouth character by Simon and Halbig ended at $12, 500. Two tiny Steiner models soared to $8000 and $14000, doubling and tripling their pre-sale estimates, and an exquisite portrait Jumeau was won a well-served $31000 bid. To view all of the dolls in the auction, visit www.theriaults.com and click on the button for Proxibid, then the auction “The Great Man’s Doll”. Copies of the full-color 200 page catalog are still available for $59 including prices realized by calling 800-638-0422. Theriault’s next catalog auction is scheduled for the Washington DC area on the weekend of October 23.