Lenci doll identification

Updated April 17, 2017

Lenci dolls were first introduced to the world at a German art exhibit in 1920. The maker of the dolls, Elena Konig, was an art student who first designed and painted fabrics at her aunt's clothing store in Germany. Using what she learnt at the store, Elena started to create moulds for handmade felt dolls. By 1920, she had over 100 dolls. Today many Lenci dolls exist, some authentic while others are reproductions. The Lenci clothing, head, body, and accessories serve as identifying features to differentiate among the real and fake dolls.


Unlike other dolls during the same period, Lenci dolls have their clothing tags on the outermost garment. The tag will read Turino or Turin. The tags can be heart-shaped or square. Metal buttons engraved with Lenci Turino were sowed to garments. Clothing for the dolls was made with felt or organdie while undergarments were prepared using muslin or organdie. The dolls shoes were produced using leather.


Lenci dolls got their popularity from the irresistible facial pouts and side-glancing eyes. Two facial expressions exist as a result of World War II. Before the war, facial clay moulds were prepared and felt presses was created from these moulds to create the faces. During the war, the doll company was bombed, and the majority of the moulds were destroyed. New celluloid moulds were created and used. The older versions have painted, side-glancing eyes and painted lips. The newer moulds allowed for glass-eyes to be used. All Lenci dolls have a two-tone lip colour and two dots below their lower lip. The dolls' ears are topstitched in the same zigzag stitching used to stitch the head to the neck. The hair is made of mohair and attached to the doll at the centre of the head. No other stitching or glue was applied to hold the hair in place.


Early Lenci dolls from 1925-1927 have all the fingers of the hand joined while the thumb is kept separate. Dolls produced after have only the fingers in the middle joined together while the index and pinky and thumb are kept separate. This was a unique characteristic of the Lenci dolls and used to identify authentic Lencis. Dolls before 1930 were stuffed and had solid bodies. Dolls from 1930 on were hallowed and were lighter in weight. The height of Lenci dolls range from 26 inches to 31 inches. Unlike other dolls of the twentieth century, Lenci dolls were entirely made of felt that resembled hard cardboard. Stitching on the doll is often used to identify Lenci's. Zigzag stitching around the neck was an identifying trait unique to only Lenci dolls. Dolls produced before the wall has a metal button with the words "Lenci doll" engraved on the back of their foot.


Besides their clothing, Lenci dolls did not come with any formal documentation or accessories. All the dolls were placed in generic cardboard boxes while some were sold without a box. Since the production of these dolls took place during the time of war and depression, minimum supplies were used for each doll.

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About the Author

Alex Said is a science writer whose work has been featured in several online databases as well as government brochures. Said holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Toronto.