A rare Kammer & Reinhardt Walter 102 bisque antique character doll has sold for a hammer of £43,000 in a recent sale at toy and collectables auction house Vectis Auctions in Stockton on Tees, far outstripping its pre-sale estimate of £12,000-17,000 .
The auction house said that the doll generated interest from around the world, with a buyer from Germany eventually losing out to a telephone bidder in the USA.
The dolls first appeared in 1908 in Munich, Germany, and represented a new era for the doll market with their lifelike features modelled on real children, which led one newspaper of the time to comment: “Not dolls- they should be called real children”.
The variety of character dolls produced during the ‘golden age’ from 1909-1914 were mostly collected by adults before the advent of the First World War and inflation brought about the production of baby dolls.
The Thuringia region of Germany where the dolls were made is renowned for the high quality of its natural clay deposits and this enabled the Kammer & Reinhardt doll-maker’s company to produce the finest quality bisque dolls. In the early days of the 20th century Germany mass produced pretty faced dolls until people began to take an interest in child psychology. Manufacturers decided it was time to produce and market dolls that had expression and realism, taking their inspiration from true life models.
The sale’s model 102 is a slightly older child than the 101 model and is known as “Walter.” The model 102 is distinctive for his great moulded and painted hair and only comes in twelve inch and twenty-two inch sizes with painted eyes. A very rare composition socket head of the 102, is an exception to only featuring bisque head dolls. This composition model 102 closely resembles the Munich Art dolls that inspired this range. Model 107 uses the exact same sculpt as the 102 but with a wig instead of the moulded hair is and known as “Carl.” Model 107 also only comes in the two sizes and only with painted eyes. The models 102 and 107 are based on Lewin-Funcke’s 1898 bust, aptly entitled “Portrait of a boy.”
The vendor of the doll stated: “The doll belonged to my grandmother who passed away 30 years ago. Since then he has been in my mum’s possession. He has always lived in the living room on the sofa for as long as I can remember and our late dog chewed his foot off when he was a naughty puppy.
“My mum, unfortunately, is now unwell and emptying her house we found him again. Due to having so much furniture and momentos to sort out, we were having to be quite ruthless with what we were keeping so I put him on the pile of things to be skipped. However, my husband remembered the doll fondly and decided to put him in the “to keep pile” and afterwards we realised how special he was.”