Monday, March 23, 2015

My Secret Is Out

Hi Doll Friends,

I thought I should confess um... share with you about my new doll obsession oops I mean collection. It all started about six months ago. But this story actually begins even before that. As you can tell if you've read my blog, I love all kinds of dolls. Over the years, I've collected a variety of modern dolls including American Girl, Tonner dolls, Pullips, and Asian Ball Jointed Dolls, just to name a few. I also enjoy collecting with my younger daughters, all kinds of dolls that are currently available on the store shelves. Plus I love dollhouses and miniatures.

Local Doll Clubs

Almost a year ago, I found out that there was a local doll club in my area. I called to get some information and was invited to attend a meeting as a guest. After that first meeting, I submitted my application to become an official club member. I just want to pause here long enough to recommend joining a local doll club. You can go to the United Federation of Doll Club's website at and contact the director in your region to find the club closest to you. My local club holds a meeting each month at a different member's home, where I have seen the most wonderful doll collections. The members collect a variety of dolls, and at each month's meeting, members do a show and tell of their choice. There is also an educational program featuring a different type of doll each month.

The more I learn about dolls, the more interests I develop in an even wider variety of dolls, including antique and vintage dolls. I got my first antique doll, a Kestner #154,  back in May 2014 (click here to read about her). As I researched antique dolls, somehow I learned about another kind of antique doll called a Schoenhut.

Schoenhut Ad from 1922 Ladies' Home Journal

Schoenhut Dolls

Schoenhut wooden dolls were produced in America from 1911 to 1928 by the Albert Schoenhut Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Schoenhut company is well known for their toy pianos and the Humpty Dumpty Circus. Schoenhut dolls were carved of solid wood and had metal spring joints. This was at a time when dolls were imported from Germany or France, and they were made of highly breakable bisque. I can't imagine what it must have been like for little girls to play with their dolls, having to be so careful not to drop them because they would shatter into a million pieces. Plastics were not used in dollmaking until after World War II (1945) and vinyl wasn't used until around 1960. When Schoenhut dolls were invented in 1911, they were the only unbreakable dolls of their time other than cloth dolls. Their unique spring jointing, which made them more posable and more realistic, set them apart from all other dolls made then.

I was fascinated by Schoenhut dolls, and my first purchase was this book, Schoenhut Dolls A Collector's Encyclopedia by Carol Corson.

This is a big, beautiful hardcover book with 272 pages chock full of information about the dolls, the Schoenhut family, and the company history. It contains over 500 pictures to help identify and date these dolls. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Schoenhut dolls.

A note about provenance

If you look up the word provenance, you'll find this definition.
     prov-e-nance - noun - the place of origin or earliest known history of something;  a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality

I just love to know an item's provenance! It's like the feeling you get when you finally read the last pages of a great mystery. I was so excited to be able to purchase a copy of the Schoenhut book with a special provenance. My book was autographed in 1994 to Susan Manos from the author, Carol Corson. Susan Manos was a doll collector of who lived from 1928-2003, and she was actually the author of another book about Schoenhut dolls back in the 1970's. I purchased this book from her daughter, who was raising money for animal rescue. I will cherish her special copy with this sweet inscription.

Classic American Dolls

In the late 1980's, the US Postal Service decided to print a set of stamps featuring Classic American Dolls. To be considered for this honor, the doll must have been designed by an American and they must have been manufactured in America. It took nearly 10 years to settle on the 17 dolls that would grace the "Classic American Dolls" 15 stamp panel that was finally released in 1997. The dolls pictured on this set of 32-cent stamps were gathered from collectors and museums around the country.

A pair of Schoenhut dolls were chosen to adorn one of these 15 stamps depicting Classic American Dolls. They chose a rare bonnet head girl and a carved hair boy.

If you were a doll collector back in 1997, you might have this set of stamps, or you might even have some of the reproduction postage stamp dolls that were the USPS remade version of the originals pictured on the stamp set. I even have a few of these in my collection.

These are not real children, but Schoenhut All Wood Dolls

reads this ad from 1911. Schoenhut dolls are carved to look like real children. Around the border of the ad, there are dolls showing off some of the many poses that these dolls still perform beautifully today thanks to their innovative spring joints.

Do you know of any dolls today that can pose like this?  Schoenhut dolls can hold this pose.

Below is just one snapshot from the wonderful Schoenhut book by Carol Corson. It says this doll held this pose, balanced in this precarious position, for six weeks in the Delaware Art Museum. Amazing, isn't it?

In this old advertisement, it describes Schoenhut Character Dolls as being "modeled in real character style, more natural and lifelike than anything ever attempted. The lifelike expression makes them very appealing to children, they look like real folks" (quoted from the ad). The character faces were carved to look like the Schoenhut family children and grandchildren.


Until now, I haven't had a chance to post here on the blog about the doll that I so desperately searched for, yet still remained elusive to me. If you follow my Pinterest Doll Boards, you might have noticed my Schoenhut board where I've collected lots of lovely Schoenhut pictures.

The Search Began...

Around August 2014, I started searching eBay daily for a Schoenhut doll. There were some Schoenhut dolls listed, but at the same time, I was still trying to learn about them and figure out exactly which one I wanted, and what was a good deal. I let some beautiful dolls and some amazing deals get away while I was learning. Well before Christmas, I decided a Schoenhut doll was what I wanted for Christmas (since my husband kept asking what I wanted). At that point, my searching became more desperate frantic focused. Of course, by that time, other people must have had the same Christmas wish, because prices were higher than I had seen in the months before. So no Schoenhut for Christmas. After Christmas, I continued to search every day.

By the middle of February, I had searched for so many days months that I was almost ready to give up. There were Schoenhut dolls being listed, but at that point I had not been able to successfully bid on one that I loved and win it at a price I could afford. It seemed that acquiring a Schoenhut would take a lot of work plus a bit of luck and good timing, unless you [A] were not choosy or [B] had unlimited funds. But I was choosy and funds were limited.


After more than six months of searching, I finally have my first Schoenhut in March 2015!  YAY!!!

Watch for my big Schoenhut reveal coming soon. Until then, here's just a tiny sneak peak at my treasured first Schoenhut...

 - Lisa


  1. How exciting for you! I love Schoenhuts also, and have two in my collection. One is a "Nature Baby", and the other is a little girl with a bobbed wig that looks very similar to your "sneak peek" photo. I love the early, character faced models, but they are very rare and WAY out of my price range! I look forward to seeing the full reveal of your new dollie!

    1. Hi Angela! I'm excited to hear that you have Schoenhuts too! I'd love to see some pictures. That would be a great post for your blog... hint, hint. :)

  2. Nice reading, like potato chips, "Bet-cha can't have just one!" These dolls are amazing.

    1. Bet-cha you're absolutely right Joan!!! :) You are a lady who knows what she's talking about! :)

  3. Now I'm curious - articulated and wooden is my favorite type of doll, but I've never really looked into antique dolls. It's always interesting to hear the story behind someone's collection.

    1. I've been working on some pictures today to show just those two things - her woodeness and articulation. :) I agree with you 100%, I love hearing the story behind the collection too... why someone collects a doll, where it came from, how they acquired it, etc.

  4. How exciting! I can't wait to see your reveal of the new arrival.

    And how brilliant to see that book as well - I love hearing about the history of old lines like this!

    1. Thanks jSarie! I'm working on her reveal post now. I would highly recommend the book - it is so full of pictures and history of the dolls and the people who made them. I love it!

  5. oh my how exciting on your big win! An antique doll is always a wonderful prize, no matter what she is. My grail has always been a french fashion doll. I have had to satisfy my longings with the reproduction which is ok with me. What a great prize!

    1. Thank you Lisa! It is exciting and I am so enamored with her. Oh, the french fashion dolls are so beautiful!!! Reproductions are wonderful too. My Bleuettes are reproductions since the antiques are so very expensive. I have some other reproductions too, and I think they are a great way to enjoy a doll that you couldn't otherwise have.

  6. Schoenhuts are definitely cute dolls. You've got the start of a very nice collection there.

  7. Oh how lovely you now have a Schoenhut and a very beautiful one as well! I was away when you posted this and only just catching up now.

    Fabulous post.

    There is a great informative and fun group on Facebook now that I set up, if you are on it for Schoenhut fans - The Schoenhut Cafe. Let me know if you can't find the link and are interested.

    1. Thank you Serenata! I am a member of The Schoenhut Cafe, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the group. I've learned so much there. I would also like to recommend that anyone interested in Schoenhut dolls join The Schoenhut Cafe group on Facebook. See you there! :)


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