Feb 19, 2016

Lesson Learned.

Don't buy old celluloid dolls.  They--at least the ones I bought--are as fragile as eggshells.  I have long admired the old German "Turtle Mark" dolls.  I finally found a pair at a reasonable price, a sweet little Hansel and Gretel type pair.

The little boy doll's head had some damage, but the seller included the pieces, saying it could be fixed.  Like an idiot, I believed her.  

So they arrived, and the boy's head was further broken.  I tried to glue it all together, but it was an awful mess.  Try to reassemble and egg shell and you'll know what I mean.  It was well enough that his hat would cover it, so I figured I'd cut my losses.  Then as I was holding the girl doll, and gently moving her legs to see if she would sit (because I don't have a stand to fit her), her leg crumbled in my hand!

I was really looking forward to these dolls, and now they're just...sad.  So.  Don't buy old celluloid dolls, unless you've got them in your hand and can see that they're in good shape.  Or better yet, just get really good photos that you can frame.  Less heartache. 

EDITED TO ADD:  I wrote to the sellers to relate my disappointment in these dolls...they have kindly refunded the money for them, minus shipping.  They would have refunded even that, but I decided to keep the clothing, so we're agreed that only the doll-cost would be refunded.  I guess there is another pair of Hansel and Gretel cloth dolls in my future!  But they'll be tiny--these are only 10" tall.  :~)


  1. That's good to know. I have been looking for little German dollhouse dolls to go with my Dora Kuhn German dollhouse furniture. I've seen some older German tiny celluloid and plastic dolls I like, but I will avoid them now. I will reconsider the little carved German wooden Lotte Sievers-Hahn ones instead. They have a more primitive look, but I imagine they are sturdy enough for play. I love the Turtle dolls, they have such nice costumes and the sweetest faces, but I don't think they made any small enough for a dollhouse. I look forward to seeing some cloth dolls in German costumes!

  2. I am a long time admirer of these dolls, but only by photo, having never actually seen one. I would never have thought they could be so fragile. I have one old celluloid doll but it seems quite sturdy. I, too am looking forward to seeing the dolls you create to wear these wonderful old costumes.

  3. The super thin celluloid dolls are fragile and sometimes are sunken in, in the face and places. I have a old composition bye-lo doll with celluloid hands. One day when my little grand niece was playing with her she came to me and held out her hand and there was a thumb. I hated it got broken off, but what can you do. the doll now has only one hand, because once the piece starts breaking it will all break up. I decided to one day replace the hands with compo ones. They should fare better. the bigger heavier celluloid dolls are a safer bet and should not be subject to breaking like this. I am sorry your dolls didn't work out, but these things happen to us all at some point. Atleast you did have the clothes and were lucky to have had a reasonable seller on ebay.

  4. It's too bad about the celluloid dolls you bought were so fragile. From the photo, the dolls are adorable and I can see why you purchased them. I have a few of the celluloid dolls and haven't had a problem. Maybe it was the way they were stored over the years. Well, at least you have the clothing and a refund. I'm sure you find another Hansel and Gretel out there.

  5. I am sorry your little dolls didn't work out! You are brave to try gluing them back together, whew. It is always a bit of a risk buying old dolls from photos. I have already decided I am not going to collect composition dolls. I have watched several videos on restoring them and yikes! I am cringing about replacing some eyelashes on my Miss Revlon doll!

    1. I have a good friend in south Texas who restores composition dolls (and other kinds) and she makes their restoration look so easy! She helped me fix a little Efanbee Bubbles whose head was beginning to crack, and to use an air gun to spray his hair back on. I think you can replace Miss Revlon's eyelashes! My friend uses the bristles of cheap plastic paint brushes (the kind you get for kids to do crafts with). Said they work perfectly. :~) I don't know how it would work with your project, but one glue that dries fast and clear is Fabri-Tac. It is stringy and awful to work with, but it holds tight. Cheers--and welcome!


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