07.27.15 -- Rare Dolls Sizzle at Theriault's Annual Summer Auction

Rare Dolls Sizzle at Theriault's Annual Summer Auction
Annapolis, MD -- July 27, 2015 
TheriaultsCollectors eagerly thronged to Theriault's annual mid-summer auction of antique dolls despite the record heat wave which swept the region. The weather sizzled, and so did the prices. The auction, “Among Friends”, featured the private collection of Billie and Paige Welker of North Carolina, which fittingly, included five examples of the American cloth doll known as "Maggie-Bessie", made from the end of the 1800s until about 1935 in the then-small Moravian community of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, by two sisters, Maggie and Bessie Pfohl.
The earliest example, known as "Miss Chitty", was actually rendered by Elizabeth Chitty, an instructor in needlework and mathematics, who collaborated with the sisters in the design of their doll. Few examples by Chitty are known to exist. At the Theriault ‘s auction, an example in as-found condition, soared to $8500 (pre-sale estimate $2500/$4500). Other examples of the Maggie-Bessie dolls sold at $9500, $8500 (with painted ears), $13,000, and $9000. American cloth dolls generally were quite strong. An Izannah Walker doll with ringlet curls and rare blue cloth body hammered down at $29,000 (pre-sale estimate $12,000/$18,000); a 26" black cloth "Mammy" doll by Martha Chase reached $12,500 (pre-sale estimate $6000/$8500); and an early cloth doll "Nana", one-of-a-kind, made by American artist Dewees Cochran in 1935, with documentation from the artist, fetched $12,000 (pre-sale estimate $6000/$8500).
Contrasting the plain-folk simplicity of American cloth at the Theriault’s auction "Among Friends", were elegant and exquisite poupees and bebes by French dollmakers of the 19th century. A petite 14" poupee by Leontine Rohmer with trousseau reached $22,000 (pre-sale $15,000/$22,000) and a gorgeous 26" portrait poupee by Jumeau went to $18,500 (pre-sale $12,000/$16,000).
Size does count - small size, that is - for the growing coterie of collectors who cherish the tiny size 0 and 1 bebes. An especially dear 9 1/2" bebe A.T., size 1, more than doubled its pre-sale estimate, topping at $40,000. Other bebes included a black-complexioned Bru Jne at $18,500; 12" portrait bebe by Jumeau at $14,000; 21" blue-eyed Bru bebe at $23,000; tiny 8" Series B bebe by Jules Steiner at $16,000; the very rare Bebe Clement with hollow leather body at $24,000; and a gorgeous 22" Bebe A.T. with distinctive eye decoration at $31,000, each solidly within or above pre-sale estimates.
German bisque art characters whose expressions ranged from pouting to serene to wistful to just plain mischievous were avidly sought at Theriault's auction, too. Featured on the catalog cover was an extremely rare example of an aged and strong-featured woman; she fought her way to a vigorous $42,500 (pre-sale estimate $30,000/$40,000). Contrarily, the very beautiful painted-eye lady, model 152 by Simon and Halbig, said to be a portrait of German social reformer Rosa Luxemburg, topped at $23,000 (pre-sale estimate $11,000/$17,000). Another rare character by Simon and Halbig from their 1300 series was wonderfully silk-costumed as Polichinelle, topping at $31,000 (pre-sale estimate $11000/18,000); and a superb all-original 12" model of Kammer and Reinhardt's 102 art character in Tyrolean costume hammered at $24,000 (pre-sale $11,000/$15,000). The popularity of googly-eyed dolls continues, too. A rare 14" winking googly with sculpted hat by Gebruder Knoch topped at $8000 (pre-sale $5000/$7500); a double-face helmet googly by Max Handwerck was $2700 (pre-sale estimate $1500/2100); and an extremely rare 19" winking googly, model 175, by Hertel and Schwab, soared to $30,000 (pre-sale $5000/8$000) to a collector who said she had waited for this doll to come on the market for nearly 20 years.
The auction also included the famed Mary Eveline Sicard collection of Chinese Door of Hope dolls, made in that Shanghai mission in the early years of the 1900s. Among the examples sold were a group of children whose selling prices ranged from $1500 to $4500, a Buddhist priest at $4000; a Buddhist girl nun at $7000; a hospital nurse at $6500; and various traditional and modern brides with hammer prices from $1200 to $3750.
The Annapolis, Maryland firm of Theriault's has specialized in the auction of antique dolls and childhood ephemera for 45 years. The entire catalog and results can be viewed at www.theriaults.com. A wonderful 160 page full-color, hard-bound catalog of the auction, titled "Among Friends" is available at www.theriaults.com or by calling 800-638-0422.


Featured on the cover of Theriault's doll auction catalog "Among Friends" were a 12" model 102 in original costume by Kammer and Reinhardt, and a 23" portrait of aged woman whose maker remains a mystery. They sold at $24,000 and $42,500 (l. to r).
A 23" character doll as Polichinelle devilishly clasps the rare 9 1/2" bebe A.T. by Thuillier. They sold for $40,000 and $31,000 (l. to r.) at Theriault's summer antique doll auction.
Googlies in every size bring a smile to the face of collectors. The larger, a very rare model 175 by Hertel and Schwab with one glass googly eye, and one painted winking eye, soared to $30,000, while the little fellows he held, known as Max and Moritz, Recknagel of Germany, topped at $1700 for the pair.