Here’s an excellent large example of the German bisque 390 by the Armand Marseille Porcelain Factory, Thuringia, Germany. She has a perfect face and blonde curly wig. Bisque (*) socket head is marked “Made in Germany 390 A11M” and she is 30″ tall.
The wood and composition body (**) is in nice condition, fingers and toes intact. The eyes sleep perfectly and all lid wax is retained. The brows are nicely feathered and she has painted lashes around her eyes. The lips are well shaped and outlined in red, her features are well defined. She wears a very appropriate white cotton dress.
(*) Bisque: A ceramic material that has a matte or unglazed surface. In finer antique dolls, it appears almost translucent. This type of material can be used for the entire body or only the doll’s head.
(**) Composition Body: is a type of material used for antique dolls heads and bodies. All companies tried to protect their techniques, and trade secrets. The detailed formulas or techniques are never expounded. It can be made out of wood pulp, glue, sawdust, flour, rags.
Armand Marseille, of Sonneberg & Koppelsdorf, Thuringia, Germany was one of the most common antique dolls that are found today. They made certain of their dolls, including the very plentiful 390 and 370 moulds, for a span of over 30 years, and a large variety of character dolls.
Armand was born in 1856 in St. Petersburg, Russia son of an architect, and immigrated to Germany with his family a short while after 1860. They were a Huguenot family, hence the name that sounds like a French name. In 1884 he bought the toy factory of Mathias Lambert in Sonneberg and in 1885 acquired the porcelain factory of Liebermann & Wegescher in Koppelsdorf.
Marseille produced dolls from 1885 until sometime in 1930. At the turn of the century, it is estimated that the AM production was over 1,000 heads a day.
Armand Marseille dolls are generally very clearly marked on the back of the bisque head; as an example: Armand Marseille- Germany-390 -A 11 M or something similar, where 390 is the mould number. Many of the dolls are marked with A M instead of Armand Marseille. The vast majority of AM heads are bisque. Armand Marseille supplied bisque heads to many American doll and toy companies and distributors, including Montgomery Ward, Arranbee, Louis Amberg, Wanamaker and Sears, to name just a few of the more familiar, and, interestingly, purchased most of their bodies from other makers.
Norman Percevel Rockwell
Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was a 20th century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States, where Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over more than four decades. Among the best-known of Rockwell’s works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter, Saying Grace (1951), and the Four Freedoms series.
In 1977, Rockwell received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his “vivid and affectionate portraits of our country.”
Norman Rockwell’s art reflected an intimate portrait of American life during the 20th century. His themes described universal human experiences ranging from touching moments of childhood to civil rights, America’s war on poverty, and the exploration of space. Norman Rockwell’s art relied on masterful technique, gifted storytelling, humor, compassion.
“The doctor who applies his stethoscope to a young girl’s doll is attempting to acknowledge her world of enchantment. The expression on his face is as serious and concerned as it might be if he were examining the girl herself. Such a willingness to place professional expertise at the feet of childhood magic serves to remind us, again, of things we have forgotten: secret kingdoms inhabited by imaginary beings whose needs seemed as real as those of the people around us. Rockwell’s physician may appear to take the doll’s health seriously as an effort to gain the child’s confidence and trust, but his act of sympathy is also one of grace, accepting his patient’s needs with cheerful serenity.” Neil Harris, from Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People, 1999
“To us, illustration was an ennobling profession. That’s part of the reason I went into illustration. It was a profession with a great tradition, a profession I could be proud of.” Norman Rockwell