Friday, June 26, 2020

Munzerlite Boudoir Doll

My curiosity and patience for digging around in the deepest, dustiest corners of old antique shops paid off pretty good again this week after simply noticing a plastic tube on a shelf packed with "antique doll parts." I didn't think much about it at first, but something made me go back a few minutes later and take a second look. I asked the clerk if I could possibly open the tube and analyze everything inside a bit closer. And with the help of a friend of mine whose mother deals in antique vintage dolls (thanks Dave!), it turns out that what I had found was most likely a vintage Munzerlite half doll from Germany, made around 100 years ago, and also known as a boudoir doll.











She's clearly not in the greatest shape, with the seperate pieces barely held together by a rusty old strand of ancient wire. She is still quite a beauty even though the composition chalkware upper torso and head (with original mohair) is chipped up and scuffed, (ain't those eyebrows out of this world!), and her hollow, pot metal arms are somewhat scratched and losing paint.









Did the pretty porcelain legs actually came with her originally, does anyone know? The backs of both thighs are stamped with the word "Germany", as well as L and R (left and right) carved right in, but they totally seem to be made for another doll entirely. Maybe I'm wrong.



One of the reasons these dolls were known as "half dolls" is because they were sometimes assembled on top of a cage shaped wire frame and used as a lamp with a light bulb inside (search google if you don't believe me!) Other times, they were given an actual cloth body like any normal child's doll, dressed, and then simply propped up on a pillow for display purposes.

I'm not really sure what to do with her now that's she's in my possession. I can't keep her in wrapped up pieces inside a plastic tube for another century, and I'm not really into the whole lamp approach. And as much as I want to dress her up and make her whole again, I have to admit I sort of like her as is, strangely strung together like a broken down, antique robo-mannequin from some old Victorian era Jack the Ripper animatronic scene. Give me some ideas, clothing suggestions, display advice, etc... and of course if there are any corrections, or other interesting tidbits to know about these dolls, please share in the comments.



She also needs a name...

8 comments:

Wendy said...

She's amazing! I took one look at her and immediately though, "Violetta". I'm a painter by trade, so my first instinct was "repaint", but you're right -- she's better like this! Even though the legs don't QUITE seem right for her, as you said, I think they look close enough. The way you have her posed in photo #4 is really cute... if you're adventurous enough, she would look adorable in that pose surrounded by bubbles, like she was in the bath. My suggestion for her: Find an old shallow bowl/dish/saucer that she would fit comfortably in (with a pretty floral print or something, she's so glamorous, it would suit her), and then fix her parts to the bowl (hot glue would probably be strong enough, but also removable at a later date without damaging her -- or you could use something more permanent like pouring resin around her). Then find a creative way to make the bubbles... given her glam nature, some clear beads in different sizes might be lovely. Or skip the "bath" idea and fill up the dish with costume jewellery bits! With her swimming in glittery jewellery, I would absolutely sit her on my vanity for decoration. Put enough that she's "immersed" and you can't see that she's just a bunch of parts. Dangle a piece of necklace over the side of the dish for some added dimension... I mean, I think she could be a real showstopper like this! Regardless, whatever you choose to do with her, please share photos on the blog so we can see. :)

Mr. Karswell said...

That's actually a fantastic idea, Wendy, --a bath tub! Or maybe a frisky little lake scene-- or better yet, a Victorian era black lagoon scene! Now where'd I put my Munzerlite creature? ;)

I am definitely going to pursue this idea a bit further. Thank you for your wonderfully suggestion! :)

Brian Barnes said...

Spread the parts around any monster statue you have? Easy!

Wendy said...

@Mr.Karswell "Victorian era black lagoon scene"..... Yes, yes, and hell YES, lol!

JMR777 said...

If interested, there are places that do doll restoration and doll appraisals.

While I can't say for certain if your doll parts have a high or low value, it wouldn't hurt to have an appraisal done before doing anything with Fräulein Munzerlite. There have been several antique owners featured on Antiques Roadshow who did restoration work on their possessions, only to hear their work did more harm than good value wise.

Craftypants Carol said...

Wow she’s gorgeous and so interesting. I love the bath idea and the lagoon idea! I def want to see pics of what you do with her too!!

Mina Lobo said...

I like the Victorian-era black lagoon idea! Also, her eyebrows are in far better shape than mine, since Covid-Self-Isolation. :-/ Meanwhile, I really dig her shoes!

Mr. Cavin said...

Man, Wendy's bath idea is great! (I think I like the beads better than the jewelry, at least the way I'm imagining it. Can't wait to see pictures if you pull it off.) That's definitely better than my idea, but mine is lazier: I would make her into a robot. Screw the limbs into an Altoids container, or some kind of cookie or candy tin, and then glue in some Joseph Cornell-inspired robo guts art assemblage: Whatever pieces of motherboard, model gears, colored wires, or triple-A batteries you have laying around will do. Presto: Victorian Micronaut.

I think this doll is totally killer by the way. I agree that it is very likely her original legs were matching pot metal, and that those traveled through somebody's dog a long time ago. Somebody must have replaced em with these lovely china stems.