Bru & Sonnenberg Dolls, ca. 1865

Value (2004) | $5,500 Retail

GUEST:
My grandmother gave me these dolls when I was 16. I grew up in Connecticut and brought them to Memphis when I was 23. As I grew up, she would show me these dolls, but I never could touch them. I guess she waited until I was 16, so I wouldn't play with them.

APPRAISER:
Do you have any background as to where your grandmother got them from?

GUEST:
I really do not know where they came from. I just know hat she always had them.

APPRAISER:
And where do you keep them today?

GUEST:
I have them in a cabinet behind glass. I like to look at them all the time.

APPRAISER:
Well, you have two dolls from two different countries. The lady right here next to you is a French doll, and she's commonly known as a French fashion doll or Lady doll. And this is a child doll right here. She's made in Germany. This was made in the Sonnenberg area of Germany. This was made in Paris, France. The fashion was made by a company called Bru, B-r-u. And she has a bisque head, shoulder plate, glass eyes, a mohair wig, which is goat hair, her original clothes, her original jewelry. She is missing her shoes, and her body's all leather. This particular doll-- the little Sonnenberg doll-- has a wax-over-papier-mâché face, then composition hands with swivel joints right there. And there's a voice box in the middle-- I squeaked her-- which you hadn't known about that before. Her eyes are closed. Do you know anything about that?

GUEST:
I really don't. I would tilt her from time to time to see if I could see the eye, but...

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh. Well, let's see if we can do something with her. We're going to pull this little lever, and her eyes open.

GUEST:
Oh, where is that?

APPRAISER:
And then you push the lever down like that, and the eyes shut.

GUEST:
Oh, my. Where is that little lever?

APPRAISER:
The lever's on the side of her body.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
Anyway, they're both from the same era. They're from the late 1860s, maybe as new as 1870, but I would put them like 1865, sort of Civil War era. The little Sonnenberg doll all original clothes, original shoes, original hair, super original little wardrobe. And you actually have the paper trunk that she came in. The wax-over has darkened with age. Now, there are solutions you can get to clean this. One solution actually is lady's face cream. If you put that on and a little warm water and a soft rag, that dirt will come off.

GUEST:
It will come off?

APPRAISER:
It will come off. But very, very, very gently.

GUEST:
Do I dare do that?

APPRAISER:
It's up to you. You could leave it alone for a professional to do. Values: the little Sonnenberg doll with her wardrobe-- probably $1,200 to $1,500. Now, the Bru fashion, even though she's missing her shoes-- you can find original shoes for her-- she's more in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

GUEST:
She is?

APPRAISER:
Right. So probably around $5,500 for the grouping.

GUEST:
That's a nice doll.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, they're lovely dolls, and they're in lovely condition.

GUEST:
They just make me feel so connected to my grandmother.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2004)
$5,500 Retail
Event
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)
Period
19th Century
Form
Doll
Material
Bisque, Cloth, Leather

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