Friday, August 19, 2011

The Wonderful Dolls Of ABG

Hi all,
I was thrilled when asked to talk about ABG dolls as that is my very favorite maker of German dolls. The fact that these dolls are so good may have something to do with the fact that Carl Halbig used to work for this firm, before he started his own factory with Willhelm Simon that became S&H dolls.. Both factories were located close to each other.
Simon and Halbig had their firm in Grafenhain and ABG had their firm in Nauendorf, a hop, skip , and a jump away from each other. It is not surprising that they both produced dolls of high quality.
The ABG firm was actually a factory producing firm in 1854, but doll heads were not mentioned according to the Ciesliks until 1882, and were in business by some accounts until 1953.. The numbers of the dolls start with 222 (Ciesliks) but a doll has not been found with this number and they continue into the 1400's.. The most commonly found closed mouth dolls are 639 and 698 which are on kid or cloth bodies and the 1000, which is a painted or glass eyed parian. They made china , bisque, and parian dolls in their factories, as well as dolls for many other well known companies. They made the famous
Bonnie Babe and the Bye Lo baby along with Kestner for export by the George Borgfeldt Company in NYC. Borgfeldt was only a Verlinger, not a producer of dolls.. He helped get the dolls from Germany to the US for the greedy doll market here..

My interest in ABG dolls came in 1982. She caught my eye along with other dolls in the cabinet when I was frequenting an antique shop in Ca. I knew nothing about antique dolls but had a general knowledge of antiques and knew that she was old.... There were many dolls lying on their backs on the shelf and I was drawn to her because of her stunning outfit. The card attached said AM Doll which I knew nothing about.... I just had to have her and examined her as best I could and took her home.. Then the fun began. I did not know what she was other than the card that said AM but she had numbers on the back of her shoulder plate and I went to the local library and borrowed a book...there I found that she was not an AM but that she may be what was known as a Cross hatch child by a company named Alt Beck and Gottschalck from Germany. She was certainly a lovely doll with pale bisque and such a beautiful outfit. I studied for years and found out a lot about these dolls which have become a favorite of mine to collect.....She was made in 1893 according to the Cieslik’s book and still is a favorite in my collection. She is 26 inches tall so makes for quite the presentation with her accouterments that I have added for her....Her name is Samantha and she surveys all my dolls as the Queen in my collection.....

My daughter loves an ABG 1235 and claimed it as her own at 4 years of age. She is now 27 and still loves Miranda

One of the most famous dolls from this company is the Blue Scarf. This was a doll that I looked for over 20 years and one finally made it's way into my collection.
The Blue Scarf doll was thought to be named after Louisa of Prussia. Louisa was born in 1780 and married Frederick William, Crown Prince of Prussia when she was 17 years old....She had eight children and died when she was 40 years old.... Portraits of her show a scarf draped around her neck. It is theorized that she had a bad goiter, hence the use of the scarf to disguise this fact. She was the best known and loved Queen that Prussia ever had and there are many stories of her kindness... The one I like best was that she was visiting a small town and the children gathered to present her with flowers. She remarked that they were all such beautiful little girls. One little girl spoke up and said that only the pretty little children were chosen to greet her... The Queen sent for the poor little discards and made each of them a gift....that is why she was so loved. She loved all people.

This doll was reproduced by Emma Clear , Humpty Dumpty Doll Hospital in California and I have one to share with all of you here so that you can compare the two faces.

ABG marked their dolls with a mark sometimes called a crosshatch and they were called this in 1968 when the Coleman's Encyclopedia came out as they were not positively identified as ABG products.. It was not until the Ciesliks found a registration for a doll number for ABG that these dolls and others started to be identified as ABG dolls. The closed mouth dolls are marked with a number such as 698 and a crosshatch. the open mouth dolls were marked with the number and then a 1/2 to delineate an open mouth version of the earlier
marked doll.. I have several of the open mouth dolls in my collection beginning with the earliest one which is 1235 1/2 . this is my middle daughters favorite doll and she is shown with her when she was 4 years old..

My favorite doll is marked 1278 no.9 Dep which just means that she was made after 1891 and when the laws were changed that all entries into the country had to be Identified as to country of origin. The Ciesliks have her number as being registered in 1892 but this is the only doll I or anyone that I have ever talked to has seen with this number.. I bought mine from the original owners son after she had died, in a doll shop in ca. Before I got there, the shop owner had taken her wig off, her original dress was torn apart to make a pattern for a new dress and she was given a new wig.. I retain the old dress and have put it back together to display with her when I have her out.

In this photo, you can see her vibrant Cobalt blue eyes.

Here are some marks that you might see on the earlier ABG dolls...
The later marks shown such as the ABG intertwined is seen on the dolls marked with 1362 and known as "Sweet Nell". All of the pictures below are taken from the "German Doll Encyclopedia 1800-1939 by Jurgen and Marianne Cieslik".

Here are some of the dolls made by ABG and in the Cieslik German Encyclopedia.

Here is my example of an ABG parian or untinted bisque doll. She is no longer in my collection but went back to the lady that I purchased her from when my health became an issue for me. She is one of the more scarcely found mold numbers for this company.

Here is my example of a Sweet Nell Doll that I obtained from an original owners Niece.. I traded jewelry for 10 dolls from this lady in Canada and this doll was one of the ones that I call my "Jewelry dolls"..LOL.. I have a picture of the owner with her doll that is displayed with her.

To the right of the above picture you can see an early closed mouth 639.. She was so beautiful when I received her , but her body was tearing apart and her eyes were cracked into several pieces.. I returned her home and have never found another that makes me sigh like she does.

In this photo, you can see how the doll shop owner had redressed my favorite doll in blue , Victoria and you can see some of her original dress hanging on the wall behind her.

Here is my 1322 character boy.. He has such a different look than the other characters from this company.. I just love his pudgy cheeks and toddler body..

I hope that all have enjoyed learning a little about my favorite company and will share any or all ABG dolls that you may have in your collection and I would be happy to try and answer any questions... Kimmee


  1. I have just bought an ABG 639 doll, she is just marked 639 & the number 6 on the back of her shoulder plate. What age do you think she would be?

    1. Hi Diane,
      Your lovely doll is from about 1880. These dolls are early in the production of ABG dolls and are among some of my favorite models from this company. I would love to see a picture of your doll but am not quite sure how to accomplish that on a blog. Thank you for reading and for your question. Sincerely, Kimmee

    2. Thank you she is older than I though :). I can't send a photo of her here but will see I your email address is on your blog and send you one that way. x

    3. You are very welcome. You can send a pic to me at I would love to see her :-)