Big news in the doll world this week as word emerges that auction firm Theriault’s sold a doll especially commissioned by author Victor Hugo for $116,000, doubling its pre-auction estimate.
The sale also held dolls from the collection of Anne Rice, the noted American author of Interview with the Vampire
and other novels. Of special note was
a 31-inch Bru bébé from the classic era that was written about by the
author in her novel, Taltos, described as “a bisque doll of impeccable standards”. That she was, collectors agreed, bidding her to $40,000. The entire sale was held live on Proxibid.com.
Other dolls with known provenance were also featured in the Theriault’s auction, which took place in downtown Chicago, but none were able to break the doll made for Hugo. About 1860, when Hugo, arguably France’s greatest poet and author, wrote Toilers of the Sea, he commissioned the doll from the prestigious Parisian doll firm of Huret to serve as inspiration for his heroine.
Later the doll was gifted to the daughter of his friend and she always referred to it as, simply, “the great man’s doll”. The doll was eventually given to Hugo’s beloved granddaughter Jeanne along with a doll trunk bearing the “Jeanne” brass name plate and a vast trousseau of costumes and accessories. The doll will now reside in a place of honor in an important New England collection.
Theriault’s is based in Annapolis, Md., and it conducts important doll auctions at major cities around the United States; last summer’s auction in Atlanta saw a doll auctioned for a new world auction record of $263,000.
Provenance-bearing dolls included “Juliette’s Poupée”, a rare molded leather body poupée by Victor Clement that had resided in the chateau of de la Hogue-Moreau nearby Paris for more than a century before coming to auction, as well as “Miss Minnie”, a smiling poupée by Bru who had arrived from Paris about 1870 for a young American girl.
Both dolls were featured along with aged photographs of their original child owners and Miss Minnie also owned a tintype of herself taken nearly a century and a half ago. They sold, respectively, for $14,000 and $6,000.
-posted by Eric Bradley
You may also enjoy:
200 Years of Dolls, Identification and Price Guide, 4th Edition, by Dawn Herlocher
Doll Makers’ Marks CD by Dawn Herlocher
Collectible Dolls, A Warman’s Companion by Dawn Herlocher
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