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JDK, Kestner Dolls 1820-1938 German

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JDK Kestner bisque head Hilda doll mold 245

JDK Kestner bisque head Hilda doll mold 245

Photo courtesy of Flozdolz

Kestner King of Doll Makers

 

Johann Daniel Kestner Jr. (JDK) of Waltershausen, Thuringia, Germany began making papier mache and wood dolls and toys as early as 1816.  Kestner eventually went on to employ nearly three quarters of the inhabitants of the Waltershausen region which earned him the nickname "King Kestner". 

 

 In 1858 J.D. Kestner passed away and his grandson Adolf eventually took over the running of the company, around 1860 Kestner produced wax over papier mache doll heads, by 1860 they acquired the Ohrdruf porcelain factory and began to produce the bisque dolls known by collectors today. 

 

Kestner kid leather bodies may have a label; Celebrate, Excellence, Excelsior, Marvel, Par Excellence or Perfection along with the Kestner crown and streamer label. 

 

Unique to Kestner doll heads are the plaster like pates,

also only a few Kestner doll molds have pierced ears.

 

Kestner supplied most of the bisque heads used by Catterfelder Puppenfabrik (Carl Trautmann) doll molds 263, 264, also some bisque heads for Roullet et Decamps walking dolls; Bébé Systême and L'Intrépide Bébé and heads for Fischer, Naumann & Company.  Rheinische Gummi und Celluloid-Fabrik supplied Kestner with celluloid heads (doll mold 201) and other doll parts.  Kestner made all bisque Rose O'Neill Kewpie dolls, including the very rare closed eyed or sleeping eyed Kewpie, the eyes on these Kewpies were intentionally left unfinished, not painted at the factory, marked on back of head JDK plus other words.

 

Kestner dolls were distributed by Borgfeldt, Butler Brothers, Century Doll Company, Horsman, Macy, Sears, Siegel Cooper, FAO Schwartz and possibly others.  Some trade names for JDK Kestner dolls are: Baby Jean doll, Dainty Dorothy doll, Sally doll, Sammy doll (JDK + size number),  Daisy doll mold 171 only the 18" tall size, Hilda doll molds 237, 245, 1070, Max, Moritz dolls, the all bisque Prize Baby doll mold 208 some labels say Brize Baby, Siegfried doll mold 272.

 

Antique Kestner Dolls Identified

JDK Kestner doll face size 4, 12 1/2" tall

 

JDK Kestner doll size 4 - A bisque socket head, closed mouth, glass eyes, feathered painted eyebrows, ball jointed composition body, wigged.  Doll shown is 12 1/2", marked Made in Germany 4.  Similar dolls can be marked with a letter or head size number.

JDK Kestner doll mold 161 face, 23" tall

JDK Kestner doll mold 161 - Unique Dolly face, bisque socket head, glass eyes, painted feathered or fur eyebrows, open mouth, chubby cheeks, ball jointed composition body.

Doll shown is 23" tall, marked Made in Germany JDK 161.

JDK Kestner doll mold 172 Gibson Girl doll face

JDK Kestner doll mold 172 - Gibson Girl doll face with upward glancing eyes, 10 - 22" tall, bisque shoulder head and forearms, Gibson girl style wig, glass eyes, painted lower eye lashes, closed mouth, kid leather lady shapely body, Gibson Girl style dress, doll marked 172.

JD Kestner doll mold 208 bisque face

 

JDK Kestner doll mold 208 - Character Doll face doll, 10-42"  tall, bisque socket head with plaster dome, feathered eyebrows, painted eyes, closed mouth, wigged on a ball jointed wood & composition jointed body.  Doll mold 208 photo courtesy of eBay seller littlemarz.

Kestner doll mold 215, 21

 

JDK Kestner doll mold 215 - Unique Dolly face doll, 10-42"  tall, bisque socket head with plaster dome, feathered eyebrows, glass eyes, open mouth, wigged on a ball jointed wood & composition jointed body.  Doll mold 215 shown, is 22" tall.

JDK Kestner Hilda doll mold 245 face

 

JDK Kestner doll mold 237, 245, 1070 - Hilda, character toddler doll, 10-30" tall, bisque socket head, composition body, molded or wigged hair, glass eyes, open mouth with teeth.  Doll mold 245 shown, is Hilda.

Photo courtesy of flozdolz.

JDK Kestnerdoll mold 243, Asian or Oriental baby doll

 

JDK Kestner doll mold 243, Asian, Oriental Chinese Baby doll, 10 - 20" tall, bisque socket head, jointed composition baby bent limb body, black short wig, brown glass sleep eyes, feathered eyebrows, painted upper eyelashes, open/closed mouth with two upper teeth, came wearing a beautiful silk jacket and pants, doll marked 243.

JDK Kestner doll mold 249

JDK Kestner doll mold 249 - Dolly face, unique character doll, 10-42" tall, bisque socket head with plaster dome, feathered painted or fur brows, glass eyes, open mouth, ball jointed composition body, wigged.  Doll mold 249 shown, is 20" tall, doll mark Made in Germany JDK 24

JDK Kestner the Screamer doll mold 255 O.1.C. or Siegfried 272

 

JDK Kestner doll mold 255 - Character baby, The Screamer, 10-16" tall, bisque head with flange neck, cloth body, solid dome with painted hair, glass eyes.  Doll mold 255 shown, is 15" tall with open crying mouth, doll marked 255 O.1.C.  (O.I.C.) or marked Siegfried 272.

JDK Kestner doll mold 260

JDK Kestner doll mold 260 - Character child doll, 8-42" tall, bisque socket head with plaster pate, glass or painted eyes, open or closed mouth, jointed composition body, wigged.  Doll mold 260 shown, is 18" tall with glass eyes and open mouth. 

 

** Kestner doll mold 171, only the 18" tall size doll was used as the Daisy doll for a mail in premium magazine subscription, introduced in 1911 as Lettie Lane's actual doll, from the paper doll series Lettie Lane that ran in the Ladies Home Journal magazine from 1908 to 1912.  Heinrich Handwerck's Bébé Cosmopolite 18" doll was also used.

 

 

Kestner Alphabet series Bisque Socket Head Doll Marks =

Size Circumference to Inches

 

 

Kestner doll mark

a Made in Germany 4 (size number) = 7"

Kestner doll mark

b Made in Germany 3 = 6"

JDK Kestner doll mark A Germany 5

Kestner doll mark

A Made in Germany 5 = 8"

JDK Kestner doll mark B made in Germany 6

Kestner doll mark

B Made in Germany 6 = 8 1/2"

Kestner doll mark

C Made in Germany 7 = 9"

Kestner doll mark

D Made in Germany 8 = 9 1/2"

Kestner doll mark

D 1/2 Made in Germany 8 1/2 = 9 3/4"

Kestner doll mark

E Made in Germany 9 = 10"

Kestner doll mark

F Made in Germany 10 = 10 1/2"

JDK Kestner doll mark G Germany 11

Kestner doll mark

G Made in Germany 11 = 11"

Kestner doll mark

H Made in Germany 12 = 11 1/2"

Kestner doll mark

I Made in Germany 13 = 12"

Kestner doll mark

K Made in Germany 14 = 12 1/2"

Kestner doll mark

L Made in Germany 15 = 13"

Kestner doll mark

M Made in Germany 16 = 13 1/2"

Kestner doll mark

N Made in Germany 17 = 15"

Kestner doll mark

O Made in Germany 18 = 16"

Kestner doll mark

P Made in Germany 19 = 17"

Kestner doll mark

P Made in Germany 20 = 28"
- -

 

 

Kestner Doll Mark - Bisque Shoulder Head Size Circumference in Inches

 

 The alphabet letter, plus Made in Germany, plus a size number located on the lower back edge

of the shoulder plate run slightly larger than the above shoulder heads. 

Note: Other German doll makers may have used these same letters or mold numbers too, use our search to locate them. 

Kestner dolls may also have a red ink kid body stamp, but sometimes these are faint or may have rubbed off.

 

JDK, Kestner Doll Marks

As you can guess from the length of their history, Kestner used many different doll markings; a letter only, a size number only, Kestner, initials of J.D.K., K & Co., Made in Germany, a mold number, symbol of a crown with JDK or JD Kestner on the crown rim or on ribbons trailing beneath, Excelsior (trade name for USA distributed dolls) or any combination

JDK Kestner doll crown and JDK label ribbon

Kestner doll crown and JDK label ribbon

JDK Kestner doll mark Crown symbol

JDK Kestner doll mark Crown symbol

JDK Kestner doll mark symbol

JDK Kestner doll mark symbol

JDK Kestner doll mark K & Co.

Kestner doll mark K & Co.

JDK Kestner doll body mark Excelsior D.R.P. No. 70686 Germany

Kestner doll body mark Excelsior D.R.P. No. 70686 Germany

 

JDK Kestner doll body mark Excelsior D.R.P. No. 70686 Germany Bette or Gloriosa

Kestner doll body mark Excelsior D.R.P. No. 70686 Germany,

Bette sometimes stamped on body

JDK Kestner doll mark 166 E made in Germany

Kestner doll mark 166 E made in Germany

JDK Kestner doll mark G made in Germany 11 171

Kestner doll mark 171 G made in Germany

 

JDK Kestner doll mark G made in Germany 11 243 J.D.K.

Kestner doll mark G made in Germany 11 243 J.D.K.

 

Additional Kestner Doll Mold Numbers

Kestner began using mold numbers in 1892, dolls prior were marked with the size number or a letter only.

Note: other doll makers may have used these mold numbers, put the number in our search box to find them, too.

10P, 11, 12, 72, 103, 111, 120, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 186a, 186b, 187, 187a, 187b, 189, 190, 192, 195, 196, 198, 199, 201, 203, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 226, 234, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 243-21, 245, 246, 247, 249, 250, 254, 255, 257, 260, 262, 263, 264, 265, 267, 270, 272, 277, 279, 281, 282, 292, 349, 408, 409, 500S, 500W, 502, 505, 511, 512, 514, 516, 517, 518, 519, 520, 522, 5213, 524, 525, 526, 527, 528a, 528k, 528m, 531, 532, 533, 534, 535a, 535b, 537, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 546, 547, 548, 549, 550, 551, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 559, 560, 561, 563, 565, 566, 567, 568, 570, 574, 575, 577, 579, 586, 588, 589, 590, 593, 635, 1045, 1070, 7043, 70685, 70686, X, XII

Kestner all bisque doll mold 100 series and 500 series numbers

Kestner doll mold 154 shoulder head is sometimes stamped on the leather body Gloriosa

Kestner doll mold 172 is a socket head Gibson Girl doll

Kestner doll molds 180, 196, 265 have fur eyebrows patented in 1910

Kestner doll mold 192 was registered in 1910 and is probably a character or painted eye doll

Kestner doll mold 111, 122, 208, 217, 221, 543, 601, 608 are all Googly Eye dolls

 

 

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