Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet Nell

The other night, my mother rediscovered a vintage bisque head that belonged to her mother. The wig and body are long gone and the head was broken at some point and amateurishly repaired, as you can see.

This bisque head has smoothly working sleep eyes, missing the eyelashes, and four perfect teeth. The large marking at the top of the head stands for Alt, Beck and Gottschalk, the German company that made the head. This head was, I have been told by experts, made in Nauendorf around 1920. It was probably distributed to a company in New York that was owned by George Borgfeldt. There, it would have been fashioned into a complete doll, with a body, wig, clothing, and earrings for its pierced ears.

The number 1362 is the number of the mold that was used to fashion this bisque head and it is this number that tells us that this doll is a Sweet Nell. She may have looked very much like this when she was purchased for my grandmother:

My Sweet Nell can be repaired. I could have an "invisible restoration" done for around $500...just for the head. The body, wig, and clothing would be more. I have decided to take Sweet Nell on as my own project. I'm not going to attempt to take the head apart and properly reglue it because I don't want to damage the eyes. A mohair wig with bangs will cover the major damage. My plan is to repaint the head, minimize the appearance of the facial cracks, add eyelashes, purchase a suitable body, and commission clothing from a fellow Doll Society member.

I cannot, of course, relegate Sweet Nell back to a trunk. She's spent enough time in the dark. Until she is restored, she'll be displayed in vintage silk, watching the world for the first time in over fifty years.