Fittingly, the crowning glory of Theriault’s annual summer doll auction, titled “Crowning Glories,” was the cover doll, a precious 12-inch bébé by French doll maker Andre Thuillier. Made about 1884, the same time that the legendary Denver baron Horace Tabor and his scandalous second wife, Baby Doe Tabor became the parents of baby Lily Tabor, the doll was one of many gifts bestowed on their little princess whose christening gown was sprinkled with diamonds and gold. Many decades later the doll passed into the hands of the legendary doll collector, Mildred Seeley, and it was from her family’s estate holdings that the doll was being sold at Theriault’s July auction at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. It realized $70,000 (pre-sale estimate $40,000-$60,000).
Close on the dainty heels of the A.T. bébé was another doll from the family estate of Mildred Seeley. The sought-after “H” bébé, made by French doll maker Halopeau in the early 1880s quickly climbed to $60,000 (pre-sale estimate $40,000-$60,000). Other dolls from the Seeley collection at Theriault’s auction included examples that collectors recognized from that author’s books such as the 11-inch Schmitt et Fils bébé, size 4/0, that topped at $15,000 (pre-sale estimate $10,000-$14,000), 32-inch size 15 Bébé Triste by Jumeau selling at $29,000 (pre-sale estimate $15,000-$21,000) and a dainty size 1 Bébé Bru, 11 inches, with signed shoes, that quickly climbed to $18,000 (pre-sale estimate $10,000-$14,000). The 11-inch Schmitt et Fils sold to a collector who spotted the doll in an early Theriault advertisement for the auction and called to verify that it indeed was the Seeley-owned bébé. “I’ve dreamed of this doll for years after seeing it in Mildred Seeley’s books. I can’t believe I’ll have a chance to own her” she said. But she did have that chance and she did win the doll, sending her husband to bid while she waited nervously for the verdict in a nearby room. Everyone went home happy.
Another outstanding group of French dolls included in Theriault’s July auction was from a private collection in Vienna, Austria. Collectors eagerly vied for these beautiful dolls that included a size 9 23-inch Bébé Bru with classic face that soared to $40,000 (pre-sale estimate $25,000-$35,000), a classic model Bébé Tete Jumeau wearing her original couturier costume at $19,500 (pre-sale estimate $6,000-$8,000), a 12-inch kid-bodied Gaultier bébé that went to $13,000 (pre-sale estimate $7,500-$10,500), a dainty 11-inch size 4/0 Bébé Brevete by Bru at $18,500 (pre-sale estimate $11,000-$15,000) and another model of the desirable Bébé Triste by Jumeau, this a 27-inch example of the size 12 model, that topped her larger sister, reaching $30,000 (pre-sale estimate $16,000-$19,000).
A wonderful small but select collection of antique bisque black-complexioned dolls was presented in the Theriault auction. A 23-inch French bisque portrait bébé by Emile Jumeau with ebony black complexion sold for $18,500 (pre-sale estimate $10,000-$17,000), and a 20-inch SFBJ model 227 with rich brown complexion climbed to $7,000 (pre-sale estimate $4,000-$6,000). A 20-inch French bisque Bébé Steiner, Figure A, was $7,250 (pre-sale estimate $6,500-$8,500) while a smaller sister model at 14 inches topped her at $8,000 (pre-sale estimate $6,000-$8,000), a 19-inch German doll known as “AT Kestner” with amber brown complexion went to $8,500 (pre-sale estimate $7,000-$9,000), a 21-inch brown complexioned smiling doll, model 969, by Simon and Halbig was $4,250 (pre-sale estimate $3,000-$4,000), and a 23-inch sister model, 1079, by Simon and Halbig was $3,200 (pre-sale estimate $1,200-$1,800).
Theriault’s doll auctions are notable for their variety and wide-ranging appeal. New budget-minded collectors can always find select dolls in their price range. There was an 8-inch 126 toddler by K*R with original costume that sold for $700, a fabulous 12-inch ABG 1322 character with chubby toddler body at $850, an elegant German bisque fashion lady with closed mouth and original costume at $650, and a beautiful 13-inch 224 model by Bahr and Proschild with original costume at $950. And even long-time collectors claim to nourish their collecting hunger at Theriault’s. “I can always find something unusual to add to my family of dolls. Sometimes it’s a different doll I’ve never seen (and how does Theriault’s always find those!), or even doll furniture or an antique costume or accessory. There’s a miniature toy dachshund I’ve got my eye on in this auction,” noted one collector prior to the auction. The dachshund, with tiny hidden wheels and a fine leather muzzle and leash, sold for $2,000 (pre-sale estimate $800-$1,300), a musical automaton “Little Girl at Bedtime with Her Doll” reached $9,000 (pre-sale estimate $4,500-$7,500) amid ooh’s and ah’s each time the little girl leaned forward to kiss her doll; three antique doll bonnets sold at $800 (pre-sale estimate $500-$700), an early 20th century German child’s needlework set was $350 (pre-sale estimate $300-$500), a collection of miniature French woven baskets was $700 (pre-sale estimate $500-$800), and an antique costume for Bébé Jumeau, size 9 with original shoes and undergarments was $2,300 (pre-sale estimate $600-$900).
Copies of the 148 page full color catalog with 350 beautiful antique dolls is available for $49 by calling 800-966-3655. The dolls and their realized prices can also be viewed at www.theriaults.com.
Theriault’s next upcoming catalog doll auction is October 10-11, 2008, at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, Calif. (near San Francisco), and will feature the outstanding early collection of Madalaine Selfridge, author of Dimples and Sawdust and Dolls, Images of Love. For further information about that auction visit www.theriaults.com or call 800-638-0422 for a free brochure.
Theriault’s, headquartered in Annapolis, Md., conducts its doll auctions at notable locations throughout the United States, and has specialized solely in antique dolls and related childhood objects for 40 years.