Types of Celluloid Vintage Dolls

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Types of Celluloid Vintage Dolls
Isaiah Hyatt coined the term "celluloid" in 1872. (blonde image by cris13 from Fotolia.com)

Celluloid was first introduced in 1863 as artificial dental work. Clothing, decorated combs and attractive trinkets were just a few items popularised by the use of celluloid, which made these items affordable among the masses. Celluloid doll production began in the late 1860s until it was declared hazardous and was outlawed in 1940.


Averill Manufacturing Company operated under various names between 1915 and 1916, such as Paull Averilll Inc., Madame Gerogene and Georgene Novelties. Some of their more popular celluloid dolls include Georgen Baby, Baby Hendren, Dolly Reckord, Dolly Dingle, Sis Hopkins, Sunny Boy and Sunny Girl.

Early kewpie dolls were derived from Rose O'Neill's illustrations appearing in "The Ladies' Home Journal" around 1909. These roly-poly, wide-eyed babies soon came into dollhood in 1911 when the first kewpie doll model was created. Soon after, the celluloid doll appeared, ready for public sale. O'Neill had a soft heart for the less fortunate and created detailed, high-quality, inexpensive kewpie dolls that poorer families could afford, according to the Bonniebrook Historical Society. Original Kewpies stood with an upright posture, hands at their sides, either winged or wingless. After O'Neill's death, various companies, including Cameo, Jesco and Milton-Bradley, manufactured non-celluloid Kewpies.


In 1895, Frederich Bensinger challenged one of his engineers, Robert Zeller, to create a celluloid doll, according to Shirley Buchholz, author of "Century of Celluloid Dolls." In two years, he successfully met the challenge. Within two more years, Bensinger's Rhenish Gummi und Celluloidfabrik Company of Neckarau, Germany put the dolls into full-scale production. The company's new doll division was named Schildkrot, meaning turtle, which has become their famous trademark. Soon, doll companies such as J.D. Kestner, Kammer & Reinhardt and Buschow & Beck were purchasing undecorated celluloid doll heads, arms and legs from Schildkrot.


The most famous French celluloid doll manufacturer was Petitcollin. Originally the company produced combs, but began fabricating celluloid in 1898. Soon after, the eagle head logo was trademarked and doll manufacture commenced. A boy doll, Petit Colin, was introduced in 1924, soon followed by Colette, Coline, Colinetee and Parisette.

Societe Industriell De Celluloid, G. Convert & Company and Societe Nobel Francaise were all well-known celluloid doll and toy makers, popularising the used of glass eyes and mohair wigs.

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