Kruse, Kathe – Early 20th Century German Doll Maker

A Kathe Kruse boy doll with light brown painted hair, blue eyes, a closed mouth, a cloth body jointed at shoulders and hips, and separate thumbs

p4A ItemID D9747350
A boxed Kathe Kruse replica 1913 "Jockerlie" doll accompanied by two small mohair teddy bears

p4A ItemID D9747197
An all cloth doll in the style of Kathe Kruse, having a molded cloth head with hand-painted hair and features

p4A ItemID D9742720
A Magnasit-head Kathe Kruse Character Child doll with painted features and a blonde human hair wig

p4A ItemID D9667727

Kathy Kruse – Early 20th Century German Doll Maker

In Germany, 1910, Kathe Kruse began her successful doll business with the use of a simple potato. As mother of seven children, she pleased her daughter by fashioning a doll using a potato for a head with features drawn on with a burned match and sand-filled toweling for the body. Amazingly, by 1910, Kruse had sufficiently polished her doll making efforts to attract orders from a Berlin department store.

As Kruse dolls evolved over time, the painted on hair was replaced by mohair then real hair that was stitched into place. Cotton fabrics made the original toweling obsolete. A metal under-structure supporting the body replaced – in 1920 – a filling of reindeer hair. The doll’s knees became rounded, and the head and arms and legs became movable.

The most engaging features of Kruse’s boy and girl dolls are their facial features with lifelike reflections of a child looking adorable or engagingly wistful. From their earliest models until production was discontinued in the 1940′s, Kruse dolls were completed with careful attention to detail, including the bodies and the hand-painted molded facial features. In an attempt to lower the cost of cloth versions, for a brief period Kathy Kruse dolls were manufactured of celluloid, but her cloth dolls have always commanded greater attention and admiration. In 1914 Kathe Kruse dolls began selling for $8.

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