China Shoulder Head Doll with Doll

Name:  China Shoulder Head Doll with Doll

Made in and When:  Germany, attributed by the auctioneer to Hertwig; 1880s-1890s

Material:  Glazed china head, lower arms and legs; stuffed dark brown cloth (the tiny doll is bisque).

Marks: 1 (on the back of the shoulder head); the smaller doll is unmarked.

Height: 13 inches and 1-1/2 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Ethnically-correct hair and facial features with black skin tone to depict a person of African descent with molded short black hair, painted dark brown eyes, and a closed mouth with painted red lips. (The smaller doll has molded hair and facial features.)

Clothes:  All original cotton clothing consists of brown/tan plaid apron; blue/tan plaid dress with eyelet collar; brown/tan striped petticoat; and ivory teddy and pantaloons. (The smaller doll is nude.)

Other: This china shoulder head doll was sold at auction with a 1-1/2-inch black bisque Kewpie-type doll in the apron pocket along with a white handkerchief.

On page 9 of Black Dolls 1820-1991 an Identification and Value Guide by Myla Perkins (Collector Books, 1993), “Black china dolls, dolls with ceramic or porcelain heads that were painted and glazed, were popular during the last half of the nineteenth century… Most of these dolls were mass-produced in Germany, manufacturers unknown as dolls were not usually marked by manufacturers during this period. They gradually began to replace the earlier papier-maché heads in popularity. They were more realistic in appearance and able to withstand moisture. They were, however, much more fragile.

“The black dolls of this period, like the earlier papier-maché dolls, were usually made in special molds with Negroid features, broader noses, and more exaggerated lips than the white china dolls… They all had molded china hair in a very short style that made it difficult to distinguish, ignoring clothing, a black china man doll from a woman doll.

“The bodies on most of the black china dolls were made of black cloth with a black kid leather body occasionally seen. The lower limbs are generally made of china although leather or cloth are sometimes found…

“The black china dolls like the earlier papier-maché dolls, were always colored the deepest black possible. Shades of brown were never offered. It is felt that china dolls, in the larger sizes, were also used like the earlier dolls, to represent household help or slaves for white children.

“The only marks found on the china dolls are single numerals, either 1, 2, 3, or 4. They are found on the back of the shoulder head beneath the neck. The same numeral is also usually found on the china legs and arms. It is apparently a size notation, used to match the proper size limbs to the proper head.”

Gallery (Images and description courtesy of and Alderfer Auction.)


Your comments are valued. Donations aid the initiative to preserve Black-doll history. If you subscribe to DeeBeeGee’s Virtual Black Doll Museum™ by email, click the post title in the email, which links to the website to view all text and associated media. Please “like” and share this installation with your social media contacts. Add your email address to the subscribe or sign-up field in the footer or right sidebar.

Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: