Good evening everyone! I hope you all have had a great weekend. Are you ready to sit down, relax with a cup of tea, and enjoy reading some French Doll History? About ten to fifteen years ago when my daughter worked for me, she compiled together some history of some of the more popular French Doll Companies. Many who make authentic antique reproductions like to study the history of the original antiques, after having enjoyed these pages on my old website for years, I decided to also move them onto this newer site. This will give you a brief summary of some of the wonderful old French doll makers such as Bru, Jumeau, Steiner, etc.
The A.T. is blessed with universal appeal. Note the blushing over the eyes and mismatched eyebrows. We have known for a long time that someone named Thuillier probably made these exquisite masterpieces of the doll world. Today, thanks to research of Florence Theriault and French counterpart, Francois Theimer we know that these dolls were indeed made by Andre Jean Thuillier.
In 1876, Thuillier started producing his own dolls and in 1880, started production of Bebes. A.T. dolls are among the most desired dolls. Their charm and beautiful eyes make them very appealing. A.T. dolls are made of fine bisque and are usually well decorated. Some dolls have more intense color than others. A few later A.T.’s have two rows of tiny teeth. Bisque is not good on late dolls, and the painting is sloppy.
Early A.T. dolls are the ones collectors desire. It is obvious by the workmanship that later A.T.s may have been done by another company but from Thuillier’s molds.
Most A.T.’s were produced by the older method of pressing porcelain in the mold. All A.T. dolls have finely applied ears, and ears pierced through the lobe.
Some faces of A.T.’s have more detail in the modeling than others because molds wore down. They appear to have been originally modeled by the same artist.
A.T. Bodies: The finest A.T. dolls seem to have white-leather, gusseted bodies similar to early Bru bodies. The leather is pinked (point cut into it like pinking shears around the shoulderplate. Feet are leather, with sewn in toes.
On leather bodies, we have found three different bisque hands. All hands were attached by inserting the lower arm into leather at the midway point of the forearm. The loveliest hands are found on the A7T. Hands have separated fingers and tinted cuticles. The hand is in a relaxed position similar to, but unlike, the Bru bisque hand. Another hand on an A3T has fingers modeled at a sharp angle, as if they were meant to be holding something. Another A.T. doll we have seen has a more relaxed, baby like hand.
Other A.T’s have well made wood bodies. These bodies are smooth working, without balls in the joints. Wood hands are rather flat. Bodies are unmarked.
Later A.T. dolls, with open mouths and teeth, are found on an unusual assortment of crude bodies. We think something drastic happened to cause the change. The company may have changed hands or formulas may have been lost. Some examples are composition bodies with jointed at the wrist hands. There are large bodies, such as the 28” A.T. doll with a molded bosom and little other shaping. There is a lady with a wasp like waist, large bosom and crude joints. Later A.T. bodies seem to be light papier mache, painted ivory, instead of a heavier composition used Thuillier.
There is a little historical information available on A.T. dolls. At first, we reversed the dates of the bodies. We thought crude were produced earlier. But after studying the dolls, we have determined they were made in the following order:
Fine leather bodies, with beautiful heads and bisque hands.
Good, sturdy wood bodies with excellent heads.
Heads with open mouths and run of the mill composition of papier mache bodies.
A.T.’s were made in a range of sizes, for the No. 2 at 12 ½” to the No. 15 at 32”. There are also numbers that do not fit any scale. Number may indicate the type of body used.
Illustration 34: 14” A4T
Illustration 35. Close up of A4T Eyes
Illustration 34 is an A4T who is 14” tall. She is on a leather body with gussets at the knees and sewn toes. The leather is squared and smooth cut over the shoulder plate. Her forearms are short and go into leather sleeves for upper arms. The bottoms of the sleeve leather is die cut, like pinking. Her hands are similar to the Bru baller hands. Both the swivel-head and shoulder plate are incised AT 4 and are of pressed bisque. The head is smooth bisque with a cork pate and pierced ears. Her eyes are a deep cobalt blue paperweight with darker blue rims. There is a dark line all around each eye, and the lashes are a charcoal gray. Her brows are soft and light, not exactly matching. Her lips are parted and the color is darker between them. She has delicately blushed cheeks.
Illustration 36. is a 19” A7T
Illustration 36. is a 19” A7T and is incised both on the head and the shoulder plate. Her creamy, perfect bisque has beautifully detailed decoration. The soft, feathered brows bring out the dramatic blue of her paperweight eyes. Black liner and many charcoal lashes accent the eyes.
Illustration 37 is of a 24” A12T.
Illustration 37 is of a 24” A12T. This round faced, wonderfully modeled A12T is enchanting. The well-defined features show her to be one of the first out of the mold. The painting of her mismatched eyebrows are soft, with light feathering. The lashes are painted with charcoal gray. The gray-blue, paperweight eyes are lined with black, and the pale mauve above the eyes adds character. Her accented, slightly parted lips almost smile, they are painted darker between. The cheeks are carefully blushed.
Illustration 38: AT9 20”
Illustration 38: AT9 20” Her painting splendidly reflects the care with which she was made. She has feathered, medium dark brown brows with a shadow brow of the same color. There is a dark line around each of the dark blue paperweight eyes, which are enhances by black eyelashes. There is only a tiny bit of mauve above her eyes, right on the eyelids. Her slightly parted lips have a slight white space between them; they are accented, top and bottom. Her cheeks are delicately blushed over pale cream flesh.
Illustration 39: A11T
Illustration 39: A11T The blonde mohair wig covers a cork pate and the bisque socket head. Her dark blue glass paperweight eyes are encircled with dark eyeliner and dark charcoal eyelashes. There is a mauve blush above the eyes. Her typical A.T. eyebrows are mismatched and brush stroked with medium brown over a slightly darker brown shadow brow. The mouth is closed with a white space between the accented lips. Her cheeks are lightly blushed. This doll sold at the May 12, 1990 Theriault’s auction for $75,000.
Illustration 40: 17” A.T.8
Illustration 40: 17” A.T.8 With an entirely different face and facial painting, she is an enchanting doll. The face is almond shaped. The brows are fuller, as are the lips. Her eyebrows are feathered strokes of a soft tan over shadow brows that are set wide apart. The brush stroke lines are quite horizontal. The lashes are black and the eyes are each encircled with a dark line. The glass paperweight eyes are a very dark blue. Her mouth is painted full with a darker area between the lips which appear to have been blotted to make the two shades. She also has quite rosy cheeks.
Illustration 41. A.T.5
Illustration 41. A.T.5 As time passed the, he appealing A.T. bebes changed. As with Brus and other wonderful French baby dolls, those early captivating faces were changed to meet the demands of the market. The original round face modeling was kept with a dimple added in the chin and with stronger painting, the later dolls had to smile with open mouths and teeth. Her lined brows match the brown hair, while the lashes are black with a black rim at the top and bottom of the eye cuts. The open mouth is set with three square, bottom teeth and three top teeth. The upswing at the corners make her smile. The lips are blotted and accented. She is well blushed to the outside of her plump cheeks, with a little color on the chin. She is on a composition body with jointed wrists.