French Mignonette Bisque Doll, ca. 1880

Value (2009) | $3,000 Retail

GUEST:
I was doing a general search on an on-line auction, and I came across a listing for a porcelain Teddy bear doll. And when I clicked on it, I expected to see a Teddy bear, and I saw this little doll instead.

APPRAISER:
And you bid on it, and you won the auction?

GUEST:
Yes, I did.

APPRAISER:
What did you pay for the doll?

GUEST:
Just over $12.

APPRAISER:
Wow, that's probably about what it cost to have it sent, right?

GUEST:
It actually cost more to have it shipped.

APPRAISER:
Tell me what you know about the doll.

GUEST:
I believe she's an all-bisque doll, referred to as a mignonette. And I don't collect a lot of antique dolls, so my knowledge is not broad on it, which is why I brought her here today.

APPRAISER:
Okay, the doll is a mignonette, which is a French word for a diminutive, or a small, doll. The doll is referred to in the collecting world as a poupée de poche, the French term for a doll for your pocket.

GUEST:
Pocket.

APPRAISER:
And in the 1880s, they were very popular. There were shops in Paris where the girls could go and they could buy a small doll like this, patterns and clothing and boxes that the doll could fit in. It's hard to pinpoint the maker, because several makers made similar dolls. But this is definitely a French one. What I was amazed to see is the condition of the doll. The moths have not gotten the hair. It's clean. All the clothing is original, and I don't know if you noticed, under the shoes she has bare feet, which is a very good feature for an all-bisque or mignonette. It's a five-piece body, which means it's strung at the shoulders and at the hips. Sometimes these dolls were jointed at the elbows and, very rarely, also jointed at the knees. But this little doll has really all the bells and whistles of a good French all-bisque. I think the lesson to be learned for the person that listed this on an on-line auction is that you really need to find an expert that can tell you what the doll is. On today's retail market, I would easily put a price of $3,000 on her.

GUEST:
Oh, my God.

APPRAISER:
I've seen those shoes for $500.

GUEST:
For just the shoes?

APPRAISER:
Just the shoes.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Antique and Collectible Dolls
Folsom, California
Appraised value (2009)
$3,000 Retail
Event
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Material
Bisque

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