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What are the Different Types of Ceramic Dolls?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bisque dolls, china dolls, hand-crafted, and antique are among the most popular types of ceramic dolls. Ceramic porcelain dolls have been around for hundreds of years and have provided hours of recreation for young and old alike. Though they are rarely used as ceramic toys anymore, dolls of this variety have proved to be valuable collector's items that fascinate and thrill enthusiasts the world over. Many types of ceramic dolls are considered highly-precious by doll collectors.

Bisque dolls were first manufactured in the mid-19th century. While most styles of ceramic dolls up to that point were glazed, bisque dolls bucked the trend and did not utilize a finishing glaze on the porcelain. The result was a remarkably life-like doll with realistic-looking skin. By definition, bisque means unglazed porcelain, which is molded from clay and then fired. Most bisque ceramic dolls are painted after firing, which adds color to the dimension and depth offered by the unglazed surface.

China dolls were among the first ceramic dolls ever produced. The key difference between a china doll and a bisque doll is the use of glaze on the porcelain of the china doll. Like the bisque variety of ceramic dolls, china dolls are painted after firing. They traditionally do not include additional material for hair. Instead, the hair is porcelain-molded directly onto the head of the doll, which is then painted to look like hair after the firing process is complete.

Hand-crafted ceramic dolls are unique varieties of highly-collectible dolls that offer a distinct advantage for doll enthusiasts. No two hand-crafted ceramic dolls are alike, making each one a collector's item and a one-of-a-kind creation. These dolls may be bisque or china, but the additional flourishes and personal touches—such as unique body structure and features, hair, and accessories—are what make these dolls truly original and sought after.

Antique ceramic dolls are something of a rarity. Though there is no definitive age that classifies a doll as an antique, these hard-to-find collectibles are typically 100-years-old or more. Whether bisque or china, antique dolls are incredibly valuable and considered by doll collectors to be the crowning achievements of any collection. An antique doll might be a doll fashioned in the shape of a grown woman or in the form of a baby; ceramic baby dolls have been popular doll choices since they were first developed by the French in 1850.

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Discussion Comments

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 05, 2011

@grumpyguppy- As the other post said, there are websites available that can give you an approximate value of your dolls. Unless you live in a big city, you probably don't have an antique shop that does appraisals.

Another thing that you can do is go to Ebay and just type in "antique porcelain dolls" and see what pops up. You can get an idea of what people are selling them for.

I had an antique porcelain china doll passed down to me from my grandmother. I went to visit my mother in Seattle and I brought the doll along because there was an antique shop that specialized in dolls and antique toys. When I took the doll in, he immediately wanted to buy it from me. I told him I didn't want to sell it. His final offer to me was $1200. I came very close to selling it but I still have her to this day. I had no idea that I had such a valuable doll.

By OceanSwimmer — On Jul 05, 2011

I am in no way a collector of dolls, but I do own a few. My aunt has been an avid collector for years, however. She recently put one of her dolls in an auction. It was an 8” antique, closed-mouth Kestner (BJ). It sold at the auction for $850.00.

I thought that I might be in the wrong profession just working as a secretary! She (my aunt) has over 200 dolls in her collection. The only reason that she sold one was to see what the value might be.

She found a website that will give you an approximate value of your doll. You put in all of the information including serial numbers if they have them. You choose the category that describes your dolls' condition, such as "mint", "good", "bad", and so forth.

By GrumpyGuppy — On Jul 04, 2011

When my grandmother passed away, I was given her collection of ceramic dolls. Of course, I was only eight years old at the time and was pretty mad when my mother wouldn't let me play with them. Now, I understand why.

Some of these dolls are very old. Most of them are in mint condition because my grandmother was a collector and knew the value of the dolls would one day increase. In all, there are 106 dolls. I am so proud to own them and I have them kept in storage. I want to find out what they are worth but I wouldn't even know where to start?

Does anyone know where I could find the value of the dolls?

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