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Nelling, Inc.

French   D o l l s

page  1, 2

(Click on photos to enlarge)

  French DEP Wind-up Walking Boy

Here is a conversation piece from the late 1800's and an example of the constant introduction of movement as a feature for playthings.  This 16" guy has a bisque head with brown sleep eyes and an open mouth with teeth, a French composition body of the SFBJ type judging from the way some of the surface has chipped away on the hands.  It is jointed at the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips.
On the left lower side of his body is his original turn key and when wound, he slowly moves his legs forward and backward, the right arm slight raises up and down and his head gently nods from side to side.  All this movement is very subtle and it was probably much more dramatic in his younger days.  His metal feet, marked "Brevete SGDG" on the bottom, each have a set of two wheels that propel him to stroll slowly forward, if he feels like it!  He has an antique grey checked wool suit and felt fedora style hat.  Right index finger is missing, probably a walking injury!

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Divine, Unmarked Bebe

Attributed to Mothereau

Like answering a question with a question, so does this muse of a bebe provoke thought, complete a search and then cause it to continue.  The hunt for an exquisite French bebe that has the attributes of the finest makers of that golden time may be over, but the learning continues.  Marked only with an incised "2/0" on the back of the head, she opens discussion on being an early Jumeau, Schmitt or a Petit et Dumoutier, but a study of the body design brings Mothereau to the table.

Now everything seems to fall into place as she may be very similar to her ca. 1870's sisters, but the unusual expression that you  know you've seen but not frequently, comes into focus.  The highly unusual style of molding at the joints of her early, straight wrist French body is that of the Bebe Mothereau, as is her unique facial molding.  As a very early bebe, she has unevenly cut, large almond eye sockets, dark brown enamel eyes, pale bisque (tiny pit at end of nose), an original and somewhat wild sheepskin wig, and a closed mouth with full lips that almost want so part and speak.  Her A-line linen factory frock has the palest aqua ribbon detail that is repeated subtly on her frilly silk bonnet, both of which are perfect in every way for her.  Undergarments all antique as are her pale aqua, crocheted socks and cream canvas antique shoes.

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Petit e' Dumoutier

Wax Over Composition

As an example of the many innovations by the French doll factories of the 1880's to create a bebe that was unbreakable or "incassable",  this fresh-faced bebe has the facial features and body detail that tie her to the PD factory.  Her wide, rounded face with idealistically almond, blue glass eyes, pouty mouth and soft coloring play well with her wax over composition complexion that is very well preserved with just the expected surface crazing.
Her body has the signature metal hands used by PD, on a near mint, five-piece composition body that retains it's French boutique stamp.  She wears a factory, candy pink cotton frock, lace bonnet, and antique caramel colored mohair wig and some extra-ordinary, original cotton undergarments.  The ivory leather, lace-up  shoes are antique.  This is one to round out any fine, French bebe collection.

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Earliest Period Bru Teteur

Rare Brevete Head

With the dawn of French bebes in the late 1870's, Bru was one of the leaders as his already successful career of designing and manufacturing fine fashion dolls was transitioning to a new chapter.  The first in his line of bebes was called the "Brevete" mold, with the endearing attributes of a very young child making it a perfect candidate to become the "Teteur" or Nursing Bru.  Unlike the regular Brevete bebe, the Teteur has an open mouth with an inner spout bottle of rubber that can suck water in and out turning the bone key at the back of the head.
Everything else about the doll is pure Brevete bebe with the swivel head on bisque shoulder plate, bisque hands in a cupped position with stout fingers, and a plump, gusseted kid leather body.  Due to the infant theme of the nursing Bru, they tend to be found dressed originally in infant clothing, many times of white pique, as this one is.  The doll has extra clothing that includes the short dress with cape, an aqua blue knitted underskirt for warmth, that matches her blue paperweight eyes. The bisque is pale and translucent with delicate decoration and shading, the ears are pierced and the blond skin wig is original.
Also in the layette is a fabulous white pique christening gown with layers of ruffles and a long cape to match, a sweet lace baby bonnet, and cotton undergarments.  The leather shoes are marked with the Bru "B" in an oval on the sole, there is a small pillow, a glass baby bottle with rubber tip, a bone teething ring, and a metal rattle as part of the collection.  Speaking of collections, I have a weakness for the Bru Teteurs and have three in my own collection, one from each period of manufacture: Brevete, Circle Dot and Bru Jne!

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Lovely Bru Jne. R    -    The Judy McDonald Collection

With subtle coloring and workmanship like her earlier Bru Jne. sisters, this 16" Bru Jne. R stands out so she can stand on the top shelf with them!  She has large deep blue paperweight eyes, full, salmon pink closed lips with a molded space in-between, very pale and smooth bisque with light brown shaded brows and delicately painted lashes, pierced ears and an antique, blond mohair wig.
Her fully jointed composition Bru body is stamped "Bebe Bru No. 7" in blue ink on her back and is in beautiful condition, except for some scratches at the waist and front neck area,  with the distinctive curves and slopes of the Bru body design.  Her undergarments and shoes are antique, and her tailored, A-line dress and matching bonnet are expertly made from old fabrics and trim.  From the long-loved collection of Judy McDonald.

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Endearing Tete Jumeau  -   The Judy McDonald Collection

If you had to rate the beauty of a doll, this Tete Jumeau (18") has a 5-star face, with her deep blue paperweight eyes, pale, luminescent bisque, gentle decoration of features and cheeks, and a rose colored closed mouth.  Her resulting persona is utterly stunning! She has pierced ears and wears her original blond mohair wig that spills curls all around her shoulders.   Here red Tete stamp was scrubbed off by the factory as the doll was probably commissioned by a store or boutique that would market her with their own name. She has an unmarked Jumeau body with straight wrists that is jointed at the shoulders, elbows and hips, however her legs are unjointed.  
  The body has an old repaint and scratches to the surface around the waist.  Her antique silk frock makes a statement with its firm structure in an A-line shape with pleated detail, lace and silk ribbon overlay on the bodice and fine, tiny pearl buttons that close the back.  The coordinating ecru silk and lace bonnet is superb, and her size 8 Jumeau leather shoes are marked!  From the long-loved collection of Judy McDonald.

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French Bebe in Presentation Box

16 1/2"
Limoges ca. 1900

Resting in a long, pearly white, paper-covered box with lacy, cut paper trim is this friendly faced, French bisque head girl by the Limoge factory.  She has blue glass sleep eyes, an open mouth with teeth, peachy bisque and shading and her original honey blond, human hair wig and also wears her original, factory outfit including muslin chemise with turquoise accents that match her original turquoise oilcloth  shoes.
Under her right eye on the lower lid there is a fleck of bisque shaved off but looks like the factory painted an eyelash over it faintly. You can see it in the photo. Her French composition body is in near mint condition, with original patina, is fully jointed and has the side jointed "teenage" hips and jointed wrists.  While the box is narrow for her and a bit too long, it is just how she was purchased decades ago by a lifelong collector, so like this she remains.

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Earliest Bru Teteur Brevete

 (Faint Hairline)  ON LAYAWAY
  In the fascinating chronology of Bru bebes, the Bru Teteur, or "Nursing Bru", has a chapter all its own due to the several stages of production on this innovative doll.  Shown here (13 3/4") is the earliest in the line of these dolls that replicated the act of nursing, which was made possible by inserting in the open mouth glass bottle with rubber tip that was also offered for sale.  In the bisque head was a heavy rubber balloon that could ingest water through the mouth with suction caused by turning a knob outside the back of the head.  The earliest dolls had the ivory knob like this one, which was later replaced with metal.  None of these work anymore due to the drying of the rubber.
This early head is known as the Brevete and it portrays a very young child or even infant.  At the bottom of this listing I have provided a photo of the same doll in a Christening gown taken when I had her in my collection of early infants.  During a couple of years of production, the nursing Bru's were made using Circle Dot and also Bru Jne. heads which are more readily found.
The dramatic coloring on this child is due to the rich brown paperweight eyes against the eggshell white bisque, brought to life with gentle rose-tinted cheeks and lips.  Part of her original skin wig remains as shown in the body shots, however she also sports a replacement skin wig elsewhere, which fits on top.  She has a swivel neck on bisque shoulder plate and bisque forearms.  At the middle left side of her forehead is a faint hairline that she has had all the years in my possession (Photos available).  Her leather body is sturdy and clean with some typical bending.
Most enjoyable was finding this antique, white knit bebe ensemble that she models, using several combinations of pieces in each photo.  There is a darling one-piece camisole and pantaloon garment, a half skirt, a full dress or shift, a sweater and a matching bonnet, all with the same design.  Crocheted socks and linen shoes are also antique.  A super special doll with an endearing presentation.

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Jumeau Size 1 Premier Portrait Bebe

  At only 10 1/4", we have a huge presence from this size 1 Jumeau portrait who is tiny but mighty, with her vibrant blue spiral eyes, closed mouth,  super soft decoration of her brows, lashes, cheeks and lips, pierced ears and antique blond mohair wig cascading onto her shoulders.  Her Jumeau, eight-ball jointed body is stamped "Medaille de Ore" on the lower back and is in fine original condition, the varnish on both hands has darkened or has been reapplied.  At the bottom back of her head is an incised "1".
Her precious costume consists of a frothy, antique, lace trimmed organdy jacket over a very similar, almost matching delicate dress, she has a creamy wool slip along with all her antique cotton undergarments, socks, leather shoes and a straw hat with its own fabric flower garden surrounding the face.  Shown in the photo at the right is another small Jumeau portrait, listed separately.

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Post Office Box 4327  n   Burbank, CA 91503

      Cell (818) 738-4591  n Home Phone (818) 562-7839 

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