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What is a composition doll?

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Quick Answer

Composition dolls are dolls made partially or wholly out of composition. Composition is a material made of sawdust, glue and other materials such as cornstarch, resin and wood flour.

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Composition dolls overtook the market for bisque dolls (dolls made partially or wholly out of bisque porcelain) in the early 20th Century. The composition dolls were hailed by American doll-making companies as unbreakable compared to bisque dolls, and the novelty of the new material for doll heads, among other factors, helped bring about the German doll-making industry's demise. Thanks to this, the United States was the top doll-making country of the early to mid 20th Century.

Composition dolls were produced from about 1909 through the early 1950s. The market for composition dolls reached its height in the 1920s and continued through the 1940s. Few composition dolls are created today except as reproductions or for artistic purposes.

The United States, Germany, France and Japan were all among the countries that produced composition dolls. Certain companies were especially well-known for the quality and innovation of the composition dolls they produced. Some of these companies included: Madame Alexander, Effanbee, American Character and Amberg. Some other companies would copy their designs and sell unmarked dolls. As a result, many dolls that are found today are unmarked.

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