Armand Marseille Dolls

Doll from the collection of the Guildhall Museum in Rochester, Kent.
Armand Marseille doll from the collection of the Guildhall Museum in Rochester, Kent. Clem Rutter/Creative Commons

Armand Marseille was a popular doll manufacturer in the late 1880's and early 1900s. Their products are some of the most common antique dolls found on the market today. They created their famous doll molds, over a span of over 30 years. Although they are known for some fine character dolls and some lovely lady dolls, the great majority of their products were round-faced child dolls, babies, and toddlers.

At the height of their production, they produced over 1,000 doll heads per day. While the German company did make all the doll heads, the bodies were brought from other manufacturers and added to the Marseille head molds. Armand Marseille dolls were produced from roughly 1885 until approximately 1930.

About the Armand Marseille Doll Company

Located in Koppelsdorf, in the Thuringia region of Germany, the Armand Marseille doll company was at the heart of the German dollmaking revolution in the 1890s. Started by Armand Marseille in 1865, as a toy company. They didn't make dolls until approximately 1885 and would continue until about 1930. Armand Marseille, Jr. was at the head of the company for the majority of the company's doll making years.

Materials

While almost all of the doll heads were made of bisque porcelain which was made by the company, they would either sell the doll heads or purchase the bodies from other companies.

Doll bodies were generally made of composition, a mixture of sawdust and glue, or stuffed kid leather with bisque arms.

Basic Types of Armand Marseille Doll

One of the most commonly made dolls were the 390 head mold on a composition body and the 370 (a shoulder head mold) on a stuffed kid body. Armand Marseille also made a large variety of baby dolls including the Dream Baby, toddler dolls, character dolls including Just Me and several rare models.

Other well-known doll-faced child dolls include Floradora, Queen Louise, and Darling Dolly. They also made googly-eyed dolls which have a joint that allows their eyes to open and close.

It can be hard to find a googly-eyed doll with functioning eyes because if the dolls are stored with their eyes open, it places a strain on the joint making them more likely to break. While these joints can be easy to repair, laying dolls down flat for storage so that their eyes close helps take stress off the joints and prevent damage.

Marks on Armand Marseille Dolls

Armand Marseille dolls are generally very clearly marked on the back of the bisque head, as an example: Armand Marseille/Germany/390 or something similar, where 390 is the mold number. Many of the dolls are marked with A M instead of Armand Marseille.

Price Trends on Armand Marseille Dolls

As with many of the more common bisque head antique German dolls, prices for Armand Marseille dolls have declined since the early 2000s, mostly due to the effect of eBay on the market. That said, a great majority of the baby, toddler, and dolly-faced Armand Marseille dolls fall in the $200 to $500 price range, with the exceptions including very large dolls, googly-eyes, rare character dolls (which can cost several thousand dollars) and lady dolls.