The unique approach of Albert Bruckner’s cloth dolls

The unique approach of Albert Bruckner’s cloth dolls

One of the ingenious methods of hand-crafting dolls in the past can be seen in the creations of Albert Bruckner. His dolls were produced in 1901 and the dolls were made from a molded mask, which was a product of Bruckner’s familiarity with lithography after spending several years at the Gray Lithographing Company. At first he dabbled in lithography, which was a common printing process in the past where stone and wax were primarily used to place ink on cloth and paper.

Albert Bruckner’s knowledge of this printing process was then applied to his dolls, where he received a patent for such an idea on July 8, 1901. Bruckner was then known to create dolls for the Horsman Company with their Babyland Rag Doll line. In 1905, popular character dolls in the line were Betty and Topsy, which measured about 12 inches. The pattern was called topsy turvy because the two are stitched together in the torso area just like conjoined twins.

The inverted pair of dolls Bruckner inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin, where a character is named Topsy. The Reversible Doll was also featured in the Babyland Rag Doll catalog in 1907. Today, these dolls are sought-after collector’s items that feature a molded mask face with a lithographed image on it. The character, Betty, has Caucasian features, while Topsy has African-American features. Topsy has braided black braids and a red scarf to complete her neat outfit. Betty, on the other hand, wore a cream dress with a bonnet on her lithographed hair.

Bruckner used the same printing technique on his dolls from 1901 to 1930. Inverted dolls were the most popular because they were like a 2-in-1 doll where you get a different character after turning the doll upside down. The head and torso of the other doll can also be covered only by the dress or skirt that is neatly sewn in the middle. The doll was later named Tu-N-One. Other dolls that came out were fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood. Dollypop is another fabric doll with a lithographed face and hand-painted features, patented in 1925. The dolls are also sold in well-known department stores such as Macy’s and FAO Schwartz.

Collectors will find some of Bruckner’s original doll creations at online auction sites. Most of his dolls were part of the Horsman Company’s Babyland Rag Dolls and they generally ranged in size from 13 to 28 inches. The typical characteristics of Bruckner dolls are that they have flat and simple painted relief faces with glove-like hands. Dolls in good condition with tags intact can fetch anywhere from $179 to $250 on the market today.

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