The history of porcelain dated as far back in the Tang dynasty when the Chinese stoneware manufacturing was already well developed. This white, delicate, and powdery substance made of two key ingredients which are petuntse and kaolin. The kinds of porcelain that are used are soft-paste, hard paste, and bone China and high heat is required to form these into vases, figurines, and dolls. The process of creating and handcrafting a timeless piece alone makes porcelain dolls valuable. From firing it up in high temperature to delicately hand painting the expression on the doll’s face makes this process tedious.
Porcelain wares and materials then made its way to Europe in the 17th century where the porcelain formula was perfected by the alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger by the 18th century. Later on, doll-making became a valuable form of art that portrays life. These miniature lifelike dolls portray women and children of the era and most were in their Victorian garments. The hand painted expression and the colors used on these dolls are some factors that determine its value.
The finish on the doll should be smooth and exquisite in texture while the paint should be real life color. Check for translucency since that is the main characteristic of porcelain, but also make sure it does not have flecks, holes, scratch, chip, and depression. The shadow of your fingers should also be visible when you hold it up towards the light. This is one way to check its translucency. Take time to scrutinize the doll’s hands since opened hands are harder to make than those that have fingers that are molded together.
One of the most valuable types of porcelain dolls is the Bisque doll as it is unglazed and yet its lifelike projection makes it a masterpiece. Usually these are made from Germany. These dolls also come with silk, leather, or satin clothing. The clothing can also become fragile over time and this is one indication of an antique piece. However, the earlier doll’s body is could be made up of wood or sawdust.
Another marking you should look for is the creator’s signature which could be marked or molded at the nape or the shoulder of the doll. However, there are several reproductions of antique dolls that have proliferated in the market. So, if you want to check the authenticity of the antique doll, ask the experts at the Original Doll Artist Council ODACA and the National Institute of Original Doll Artists NIODA. It is also best to start your collection with a specific theme in mind. Say, Russian porcelain dolls for one or perhaps a collection of clown porcelain dolls.