Bisque is unglazed porcelain, fired twice with tinting before the second firing. The resultant bisque dolls are much more lifelike than china dolls. The most collectable bisque dolls were made in France, particularly late 19th century French fashion dolls, or “Parisiennes”, which were elaborately dressed in the fashion of the day.
The other major area for the production of bisque dolls was the Sonneberg area , near Thuringia, in Germany. Over a hundred doll makers were operating in this area in the period prior to the First World War.
The bebe doll developed from the Parisienne. It was a luxury doll representing a girl between the ages of eight and twelve. The body was of wood or wood and composition. Many incorporated talking or kiss-throwing mechanisms. By the late 19thcentury, competition from Germany forced the French manufacturers to form a syndicate known as the SFBJ (Societe Francais de Fabrication des Bebes et Jouets). From the turn of the century the quality of bebes generally declined. SFBJ mould numbers below about 60 indicate the better, earlier dolls.
Did you know?
In 1890, Thomas Edison produced talking dolls. They were discontinued because the shrill, creepy voices were thought to be too scary for children. Click here to judge for yourself.