Dear Helaine and Joe: Enclosed is a picture of a doll my mother received as a child about 1914. It is a Simon and Halbig and is marked "K R 126" on the back of her head. She is 28 inches tall and has ball joints at her shoulders and elbows. She has on her original slip and pantaloons, but the dress is a replacement. Although she is a dear keepsake that will be passed down in the family, I would like to know the value. — J.S., Dryden, N.Y.
Dear J.S.: This doll has a great deal of early childhood personality that would endear her to almost any child. From her rosy, chubby cheeks and double chin to her wiggling tongue and two front teeth, she is a shameless charmer.
This piece, however, is technically not a product of the renowned Simon and Halbig Co. of Hildburghausen and Grafenhain, Germany, as J.S. believes. Instead, it is a product of the equally famous firm of Kammer and Reinhardt, which is located in Waltershausen, Germany.
The confusion arises because Simon and Halbig, which was founded in 1869 and remained in business until the 1930s, made bisque porcelain heads for a number of other doll companies, including the French firm Jumeau and the aforementioned Kammer and Reinhardt. This means that while the head of the doll in today's question was indeed made by Simon and Halbig, the body and the actual creation of this beautiful toy was done by Kammer and Reinhardt, and collectors think of this piece as being their product.
Kammer and Reinhardt was founded in 1886 and, like Simon and Halbig, remained in business until the 1930s. They produced a very wide variety of dolls among which were the 126s that are sometimes referred to by the trade name "Mein Liebling" (i.e. "My Darling") or "Mein Liebling Baby."
The 126s were first made sometime between 1909 and 1914 and came in a spectrum of sizes, types and body styles. There were 126s with composition baby bodies, 126s with composition toddler bodies, 126s with composition child bodies and 126s that were all-bisque. The all-bisque examples are usually relatively small and are in the 6- to 8-inch-tall range.
Toddler bodies are generally characterized by the chubbiness of the components. They usually are made with ball-jointed composition, and J.S. reports that her doll not only is fully ball-jointed but has a stout chest and waist with a protruding stomach.
The size of this particular doll is also very important because, at 28 inches, it is about as large as the 126s get (some may go up to about 30 inches), and in dolls bigger is usually better.
The insurance replacement value of this doll is between $2,000 and $2,250, and it would have been a bit more if she were still wearing her original dress.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of Treasures in Your Attic (HarperCollins, $18). Questions can by mailed to them at P.O. Box 12208, Knoxville, TN 37912-0208.