This guide will cover how to sell your antique bisque head German doll: from identifying, photographing, packing, to shipping. Buyers want many details when buying antique dolls.
You will need to thoroughly make a list of your doll's identification marks, and what she is made of.
Completely undress her. You will need to photography the nude body so the buyer can see what she is made of. The tall antique German dolls had composition or papier mache bodies. Some are called stick bodies and were a cheaper quality. There are bent limb legs and arms on baby dolls called a bent limb body. Most have multi jointed composition bodies. Note whether the body needs to be restrung. It should be slightly loose but hold a pose when sitting or on a stand.
Remove her wig because you will need to photograph inside the bare head, look for hairline cracks, and pack it for shipping. I work my way around the wig edge with my fingers, carefully pulling up the cap the hair is sewn to. I like to remove the whole wig and not just leave it loose on one edge. The buyer can easily put a little tacky glue to put it back in place or they many want to add a new wig. There should be what is called a "head pate" covering the hole on top of her head. I will carefully use a knife to lift the pate away. Be aware that you can chip the top of the head by working against the bisque. I sometimes cut away the cardboard. You will have to use your own judgement on how best to remove the head pate, just be extrememly careful. It WILL have to come off because you cannot ship the doll without packing the head! I clean up the old glue by using a water moistened rag and soaking the top edge for a few minutes with it, then roll it off with my fingers. Be careful not to remove head paint.
Now the doll is undressed and unwigged. Look on the back of the head for numbers and letters. If you don't have a book to identify the maker, you can type in the mold numbers and letters in Ebay's search box to see if there is one like it listed. For instance the incised marks on the back head may read A 390 M and then there may be more such as 16/0. In searching for that example, you will find she is by Armand Marseille, mold number 390. If you don't find your numbers on Ebay, then just be sure to put them in your title and description so others can identify her.
Measure her from foot sole to front top of head. Now you have written down her size and hopefully her maker and mold number. Manufacturers made many molds. Some are more common than others. All German dolls the same height are not of the same value. There are different qualities and common molds are less expensive. Don't assume you have a rare doll just because you didn't find one like her. Leave the RARE DOLL title to the professionals. Just put the facts you do know.
Study her clothes and note whether you think they could possibly be original to her, old replacements, or newer replacements. Note any holes, tears, soiling, or repairs.
Now you will need to take lots of photographs. Use a neutral background. You want your buyer to be able to see clearly what they are buying. Photograph the top of the head looking down inside it. Also list whether her eyes open and close or are set in place. Shine either a flashlight or blacklight inside her head and look carefully at the outside for any hairline cracks or repairs. Photograph a closeup of her face with eyes open and closed, so the buyer can see any rubs, eye chips, etc. Note any and all flaws. Photograph her whole nude body, back and front.
Then I begin to put her clothing, socks, shoes, head pate, and wig back on, photographing as I go. You will need closeups of her hands and feet. Finish your photography session with the best dressed picture you can get, perhaps with a background or props. I arrange my photos in order so this one is actually the first one the buyer sees. You may have about 10 - 12 photos when you finish.
On a piece of paper, write your notes so you will not leave anything out of your auction ad: size, maker, mold number, bisque head, German antique doll, original or replaced clothes, body style, eyebrows feathered or single stroke, painted lashes, flaws (all antique dolls will have something), whether it needs restringing. Add some background on her if you can: who you bought her from and what they said about her. Now you are ready to list her.
Research COMPLETED auctions on Ebay to see what your doll can be expected to bring. I believe that an inexperienced seller should not try to sell her doll for as much as the professional because, even though the person may have covered every base they could think of, they won't be able to see the doll's flaws in the same way an experienced collector will.
Put a note in your ad letting your buyer know if you are not very knowledgeable about antique dolls. You want to avoid an unhappy buyer and charge back or return.
Packing an antique doll is not as hard as you might think. Stuff the head with loose polyester pillow filling. If the eyes bounce they will break the bisque. Even if the eyes are stationary, it needs the stuffing because the fragile head is hollow. Wrap the head with something that doesn't scratch, tissue paper, or soft cloth. Then wrap the head with thick bubble wrap. Put a box over the head then, for double protection. Wrap the whole body with thick bubble wrap. Place in a box with at least 3 - 4 inches space around it. Put a thick layer of styrofoam peanuts all around her. Completely fill the box so the doll can't settle to the bottom. NEVER lay the doll on the bottom of the box and then put all the packing on top of her. Yes, I have received them like this. Don't ship her Parcel Post. You will want her insured and shipped UPS or Priority Mail. I prefer UPS ground for their fast shipping and quick payment if an insurance claim ever needs to be filed.
NOTE: If you have a bisque body antique reproduction doll - you will need to individually wrap each limb with bubble wrap, even into the socket. Because wherever bisque rubs agains bisque, there will be danger of breakage. Extra care and possibly double boxing for an all bisque doll.
I hope I have completely covered selling your antique doll, from identifying, photographing, packing, and shipping.
Please vote yes if this has been helpful.