Jumeau Automaton , ca. 1900

Value (2010) | $30,000 Retail$35,000 Retail

My husband has an Aunt Betsy, and she has over the years collected automata dolls, and she was very nice and generous and gave me this doll for Christmas two years ago. And I think she just wanted to make more room in her house so she could collect a few more. But this is very special, I don't really know a whole lot about her. I think Aunt Betsy bought her maybe ten or 12 years ago, but she does not remember what she paid for the doll.

What you have is what we refer to as an automaton, or mechanical, French doll. It's made by the Jumeau company.

Oh, it is?

What's wonderful about it, many times the mechanism is in a box and the doll stands on the box, but the mechanism on this doll is actually right inside the torso of the doll. The head is very adult, which is very unusual. They're usually childlike-looking faces. And this has another unusual feature. It has an open mouth with teeth. That doesn't always translate into more valuable, it just is very unusual to see this head with teeth. This doll was made probably between 1880 and 1905. I wanted to demonstrate how it works. There's a key underneath the skirt, here. And then there's this lever that you pull out.


And then we can see it operate. And she has a surprise, of course. There it comes. (squeak) (laughs) (laughs) The doll is bisque, the arms are bisque, the chest plate is bisque, which is unusual on this doll. Usually the clothing comes up to the neck.

Oh, okay.

The shoes are not original, the hat is not original, the dress is not original. But I believe it's well done, whoever dressed it.


This doll is the "Cadillac" of mechanical dolls. It is an amazing doll, and on the retail market, we're talking about $30,000 to $35,000.

And she gave this to me? Oh, my goodness. (laughs) She may want it back!

Thank you again for bringing it. It's just wonderful.

Oh, no, I'm totally shocked and surprised. (toy squeaks)

Appraisal Details

Antique and Collectible Dolls
Folsom, CA
Appraised value (2010)
$30,000 Retail$35,000 Retail
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)

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