Hello and welcome to my home page of pin cushion dolls, here you can see some of my collection of over 200 dolls. These dolls come from all over the world and in the collection are pieces from France, Canada, Japan and America with some of the best originating in Germany and made by companies such as Bahr and Prochild, Kestner and C.F. Kling. I collect the dolls at the local antiques and collectors fairs here in England and France and have recently obtained a small selection from both California and Canada. These porcelain dolls are not really dolls at all but miniature figurines that were made in such a way as to be sewn on top of various items, most usually pin cushions. Once sewn to the top of a pin cushion base made up of a hessian ball filled with sawdust or flock the cushion itself would then covered in satins and laces to form crinoline type dresses.
Other uses for the dolls have been to decorate tea cosies, clothes brushes, table lamps, powder boxes and apart from other things, here in Southampton back in the 60's they were used atop special occasion cakes.!
How old the oldest dolls are no one seems to know but the newest ones that appear on Antique dealers stalls certainly have yet to celebrate their first birthday !. Those that do have some age range from the late Victorian period through the 1930's and into current times. They appear in the Sears Roebuck catalogue of 1927 which refers to pincushion doll heads in the index with a pincushion shown on page 233. My collection started many years ago when prices were low but recently the price of good examples has crept up, the collection consists mainly of the half dolls without their sawdust or feather filled base, this is because of the amount of space that fully dressed examples take up but I do have a fair spread of those fully dressed and ready for the ball.................................
As well as just head and waist figures there are pincushion dolls with legs, usually crossed in a ladylike pose, others have movable arms rather than in a fixed position, some have real hair and others wear hats. The combinations seem endless, even identical pin dolls are coloured differently thus making even more variations available to the collector.
The pin dolls designs span many ages, depicting female figures from the days of the Egyptians, through crinoline elegance, and into the twenties and the days of the flappers, sadly the modern times seem to provide no examples.
Size can vary from just half an inch to six inches or more in height for just the doll alone, add a gown to a large doll and you have an item that can be over a foot tall. I try to stick to an average size of about 2 inches, they tend to fit into a display cabinet so much easier, you can see just a few of my collection here.......................
The prices of theses dolls in England now range from the exceptionally low to the exceptionally high, a low cost example would be priced at five pounds and a high one at three hundred and fifty pounds, unfortunately the cheaper ones are usually damaged or are Japanese copies while the most expensive ones stay in the care of the dealers as far as I am concerned, there are plenty of average priced, good quality dolls out there to satisfy any collector.
An average price ?, well this does depend on size and type, but a range of twenty to fifty pounds would cover most of the examples on this page. Because these petit porcelains were used to create objects other than just pincushions the types go beyond just "waist up" figures, there are dolls that are just heads notably those of "Peirot" and other clowns, there are children, animals and even butterflies.
In the more commonly thought of pin cushion doll there are three distinct types that also tend to influence cost and quality, the three types can be recognized very easily by looking at the arms.
Type one has the arms close to the body with no open space between body and arms, the hands usually hold a rose or a fan to the breast, type two has one or both arms separated from the body but with the hands joined to the body ie: with hands on hips or holding the brim of a hat, type three has the arms and hands held away from the body in a wide variety of poses, these were the most difficult to make and the easiest to break, some of these tend to be the best designed and of course the most expensive. Among the pictures on this page can be seen all three of these types.