Kestner shoulder head with modelled ornament comb, and extravagantly painted blouse with modelled collar, frills and bow. Blue glass eyes and feathery eyebrows, closed mouth with contour and red dividing line ca. 1880
Until today, it was not definite who in Europe the first to manufacture porcelain doll heads was. The Royal Porcelain Manufacture (KPM) Meissen was one of the earliest producers. Initially the first dolls were produced as byproducts and only test models. At that time, Meissen made porcelain dishware and extravagant artistic porcelain.
In eighteen forty, the first porcelain doll heads were produced commercially. Meissen produced head with elegant lady faces which differed from the later little girl doll faces.
Often frills and flowers were added to the dolls. Yet they weren’t called proper toy dolls and not suitable for children. They were still ornamental porcelain that pleased the eye. Some small children were given these dolls as presents. The precious doll was kept safe until the child had attained the right age and necessary maturity to appreciate the doll. As a result, many of these dolls remain today.
Ca. 1880 Thuringia Germany
wax and cloth body with celluloid forearms... ca. early 1900
The English developed the first parian-ware in the 1840s, and exhibited parian-ware figures at the London International Exhibition in 1851. These figures proved to be very popular, inspiring the Germans to develop their own version of parian porcelain. Soon the many competing German Thuringian companies began making doll heads and limbs in the unglazed white porcelain bisque. They found that they could achieve a higher degree of detail in the modeling than had been possible with the glazed china pieces. Therefore parian dolls can be found with more elaborate hairstyles and in greater variety than the glazed china dolls. There were so many porcelain factories in Thuringia, that it is often very difficult to tell which company made a specific doll. They copied each other's popular models, and employees drifted back and forth between factories.
Many Parian dolls are around today because owners knew of their fragility and kept them safe. Children could only play with them as they matured. That is a good thing. I believe these dolls were some of the most beautiful dolls produced.