Son’s inheritance: Vintage sawdust doll worth $300

Collectors seek vintage sawdust filled dolls, but care should be taken to repair damaged joints.Q My mother left me this doll. I know that my mom has had this doll forever, and she told me that it was given to her when she was just a young child. As far as I can tell, there are no markings on the head or the body. But I just wondered if you could possibly tell me who might have made this doll, maybe how old it might be and what the value might be. I have attached some pics that my mother took. — D.R., via e-mail.

A Your doll appears to have been produced by the Alt, Beck and Gottschalk firm from about 1885 through the early 1900s. They are often marked with just a number, but it is on the very bottom of the shoulder plate and usually cannot be seen because, the leather body covers it. The doll shown is a bisque shoulder head with a closed mouth and blown glass eyes. Her head is slightly turned. She is on a (kid) leather body with bisque forearms. As often happens, the leather body is leaking sawdust at the gussets, but, if it is possible to repair it rather than replace it, that would certainly be to the owner’s advantage. If the body is repaired, be sure it is repaired with leather patches and not tape. I do not know the height of the doll, and she has been redressed. Like everything else, the value of these early dolly face German dolls has been affected by our economy, but if her head is without breaks and her bisque forearms are perfect, her present fair market value would be about $250 to $300 if she is about 20 to 23 inches tall. Popularity with doll collectors? This would be limited because, although they have a beautiful face, many collectors shy away from dolls with leather bodies because of their “leaking” problem.

Antique cloth face dolls are a popular collectible, however the most valuable vintage dolls must be in quality condition.Thanks for giving us readers a reliable source for information and value, and, best of all, it is free. We got this doll at a yard sale for a buck. Can you give us any info on this doll and, of course, its value? It is a cloth doll; on the tag it reads: Honey Lou, Gund Mfg Co (J Swedlin Inc succ.), 200 5th Ave N Y C 10 NY. Thanks. — S.A.W., Waynesboro, Va.

Your cloth doll garage sale find is by the Gund Company. The Gund Company made inexpensive plush and cloth play dolls and novelty animals sold in five and dime stores throughout the country. Many of the dolls had names like this Honey Lou, or the popular Jingle Belles (Santa). The dolls of this type, with the stiff mask faces, were very popular in the late 1930s through the early ’50s. Their value is based on their condition. These were play dolls and most are in “very played with” condition and have very little value. This doll appears to be relatively clean and in good condition and should have a value of about $15 to $25. Popularity with doll collectors? That would be a limited number of collectors.

Sherry Minton has served as president of three clubs belonging to the United Federation of Doll Clubs, Inc. She is a senior member of the American Society of Appraisers with a designated  specialty in dolls and toys.


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