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...