Oh, you not-so-beautiful doll
When doll collectors describe antique bisque dolls, they often refer to them as either “dolly faces” or “character faces.” The dolly-face dolls are those with beautiful, perfect, angelic faces that were produced in great numbers because of their commercial appeal. The character-face dolls are those whose faces are “lifelike representations of real people, especially babies and children,” as described in The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls. These dolls, popular from about 1907 until the late teens, were not produced in large numbers, were expensive compared to other dolls, and had limited appeal to children. These facts make the character dolls very desirable to collectors today.
One of the first character dolls introduced by Kammer and Reinhardt in 1909 was the K*R 100. The Charakterpuppe (character doll) trademark was registered in Germany in 1909, and the Baby No. 100 was introduced at this time, followed by a series of character babies and children. The Baby No. 100 is especially important to the doll world, because it is thought to have been the first bent-limb baby introduced or at least the first advertised in Playthings magazine. Baby No. 100, along with other character dolls from Kammer and Reinhardt, Heubach, Simon Halbig, and other German firms, were imported from Germany and made available through New York distributors such as Borgfeldt and Butler Brothers.
Before Baby No. 100, some dolls were dressed as babies, but their bodies differed little from the general line of child dolls. A slightly shorter or slightly stockier body was the only difference. Today, if the doll has lost its original clothing, it is nearly impossible to know if it were dressed as a baby. The Baby No. 100’s body was completely new. Made from a heavy composition material, the arms and legs had no joints, but were curved to represent a baby’s body. The torso was round with an ample tummy and bottom. The doll would not stand, but could sit or recline.
According to factory history, Kammer and Reinhardt modeled their character dolls from real children and usually gave the children’s name to the doll. In the case of Baby No. 100, we often see the name Walter or Elsa used in advertising, depending on whether the doll represented a boy or a girl. Another name attached to this doll is “Kaiser Baby.” There was a rumor that this doll, with its bent arms, was modeled after Kaiser Wilhelm, who had one slightly malformed arm, but there is no evidence to support this story. Still, many doll people refer to Baby No. 100 as a Kaiser Baby.
The Baby No. 100 is a true character. Its squinty eyes surrounded with rolls of fat, its open/closed toothless smile, and its fat cheeks with dimples and wrinkles portray a face that only a mother could love.
The Baby No. 100 is usually found with painted eyes and painted hair on a dome head, but exceptions were made. The Baby No. 100 can be found very rarely on a child’s body with a wig dressed as a boy or girl. It also can be found with glass eyes with or without a wig. A black version was also produced in very limited numbers. This same character head was also produced in celluloid by Rheinische Gummi und Celluloid Fabrik Co. and in composition by Horsman.
While not an example of breathtaking beauty, the Baby No. 100 holds an important spot in doll history. This character, with his bent-limb baby body, began a baby doll era. During the late teens through the 1920s, German baby dolls were very popular and captured a large portion of the doll market. This baby body used in 1909 by Kammer and Reinhardt is still the basic baby body used today.
The prices listed here were gathered from doll shows, doll auctions, individual sales, Internet sales, and flea markets. Prices may vary according to location and economic conditions.