Rare Dolls Achieve World Record Prices at Theriault’s January Auction
Annapolis, MD -- November 20, 2010
“I held history in my hands” was the way California doll collector Geri Baker described her feelings whenever she had acquired a cherished antique doll. On January 5, 2008, she passed those beautiful pieces of history into the hands of other collectors in a history-making doll auction that drew hundreds of collectors from around the world. From the moment that Stuart Holbrook, president of Theriault’s, the Annapolis, Maryland-based firm that specializes in the auction of rare antique dolls, took the auction podium until the last doll was auctioned some six hours later, the audience of collectors was awed both by the extraordinary beauty and rarity of the dolls, and the prices they attained.
Many of the dolls in the Baker collection had been acquired from Theriault auctions during the 1980s and 1990s. Important among these was Blondinette, a 17” French poupée by Adelaide Huret that had come directly from her original chateau in Rouen France where she had been stored for nearly a century and a half. The doll and many pieces of her extensive trousseau were won by Baker in its original 1994 auction, and it now became the mission of a young dedicated Chicago collector to win the doll and as many pieces of her trousseau as possible, “to keep this treasure intact” as she described it. As fellow collectors cheered her on (“when”, as Holbrook teased, “they weren’t bidding on the pieces they themselves wanted”) she went on to win most of the important pieces. Blondinette sold for $31,000 nearly doubling her 1994 selling price, and one gown, preserved in its original couturier box, soared to $19,500, ten times its pre-sale estimate, setting a world auction record for a doll costume. Blondinette’s fruitwood and bronze secretaire reached $9250, and her gilded cast iron salon table and chair went to $10,000. A velvet evening purse, a mere 3" in size, with gilt metallic belt reached $2600, and the doll-sized superb riding crop with carved basset hound figural head reached $1700; the crop accompanied a black cashmere riding ensemble that sold for $4400.
Theriault’s auction of the Baker collection, in fact, highlighted French dolls. The first lot of the day, an 11” premiere bébé by Jumeau in original couturier costume sold for $13.500, while #6 in the auction, a 13” blue-eyed beauty by Thuillier, soared to $100,000, tripling its pre-sale estimate. Three other bébés by Thuillier, each marked A.T., were also especially strong: an 18” kid-bodied model sold for $82,000, a 26” composition bodied example went to $72,000 and a 16” kid-bodied A.T. with signed A.T. shoes topped at $57,500, all well above their pre-sale estimates.
Top price of the day was achieved by the very rare doll by Albert Marque that sold for $175,000, while a splendid 24” bébé by French doll maker Halopeau, gracing the catalog cover, went for $125,000 (pre-sale $40,000/50,000). Ever beloved bébés by Leon Casimir Bru ranged from a classic era model in rare 35” size 13 at $40,000, to a tiny 11” first period Bru bébé for $17,000. A larger first period Bru, 21”, fetched $27,000 and a classic 13” size 2 Bébé Bru topped at $24,000. Bébés by French maker Emile Jumeau were eagerly sought ranging from a 24” Bébé Triste in original couturier costume that sold for $43,000, double its selling price since first acquired by Baker from a Theriault auction during the late 1990s, to the largest and the smallest Jumeau bébés: the largest-made size 20 sold for $23,000, and the smallest, size 1, was $12,500.
Curiosities and unique dolls were also the order of the day. A French “Polichinelle Riding an Ostrich” pull toy made $10,000 and will grace the entrance of a historic museum in Wyoming. Another home in Wyoming, this the residence of a private collector, will display the extremely rare wooden court doll “Marie Antoinette” that sold for $39,000. A German museum became the proud new owner of “Josephine”, a German doll by Simon and Halbig, so-named by its youthful owner, Louise Edna Reggio, daughter of the Italian ambassador to Germany in the 1890’s; family provenance attached to the doll indicated that whenever Louise’s mother received a new gown a miniature version of the gown was also created for “Josephine”. The trousseau of Josephine, along with vintage photographs of the child, doll and costumes, had been kept intact and were sold along with the doll for $30,000.
Nearly 400 dolls, toys, dollhouses and related childhood ephemera were offered in the auction. A 162-page hardbound full color catalog of the objects is available for $75 including prices realized; call 800-966-3644 or visit www.theriaults.com
. Theriault’s next cataloged doll auction is scheduled for Scottsdale, Arizona on March 29 and 30. To receive a free color brochure of that auction or to learn about other upcoming doll auctions call 800-638-0422, write email@example.com
or visit www.theriaults.com
Founded in 1970, Theriault's is the largest auction house in the world dealing exclusively in antique dolls, toys, and teddy bears. Conducting over 30 live auctions annually in 20 U.S. cities they cater to an international clientele of collectors for what is considered to be one of the top 5 most popular collectibles categories.