From its beginning in 1899 to its end in 1957, the SFBJ manufactured hundreds of thousands of bisque dolls in a wide variety of sizes and molds. Their character dolls are justifiably famous! Here we'll look at some of the SFBJ dolly-face dolls.
This small Eden Bebe is size 7/0, about 9 inches tall. She has a five-piece composition body with painted shoes. The leg has molded socks, too, but they are unpainted. She has threaded blown glass set eyes and four teeth. Notice the slanted eyelashes and the molded eyelid line and chin dimple. She is marked only 7/0.
Here is another small Eden Bebe made by the SFBJ who is 28 cm, or 11 inches. Her head is marked 8/0, and her fully articulated SFBJ body and feet are marked 2. In addition, her body is incised "Made in France." She has set glass eyes, four teeth set in an open mouth, and single stroke eyebrows. Like all SFBJ Eden Bebes, she has slanted upper and lower eyelashes. She wears a replacement wig. Since she has a size 2 body, she can share Bleuette's wardrobe.
This is a size 4/0 SFBJ Eden Bebe with set glass eyes and four teeth set in an open mouth. She has the characteristic slanted upper and lower eyelashes, strong multi-stroke eyebrows, and chin dimple.
She is just over 12 inches tall (31cm). She has a fully articulated body, with 3 on her back and 3 on the soles of her feet. Her only head marking is 4/0. She has her original white kid French-made shoes, marked 2.
This is an Eden Bebe marked 3/0 who is 35 cm or almost 14 inches tall. She has brown sleep eyes, four teeth in an open mouth, slanted painted eyelashes, and typical SFBJ body. She wears an antique silk dress and matching red cotton apron and bonnet. Her human hair wig may be original, it is quite old.
The Eden Bebe below is marked 0 and is 38 cm or 15 inches tall. She has a nice quality SFBJ body, and a newer French made wig of human hair. Her blue glass eyes are set, as is usual with this mold, and her delicate eyelashes are slanted. She has four tiny teeth in an open mouth and multi-stroke eyebrows. There is some speculation that she was the "poupee mannequin" Friquette, of the girls' weekly journal, Fillette from 1909 to 1914.
This lovely SFBJ Eden Bebe size 1 (17.5 inches / 44,5 cm) below was purchased by a collector in Belgium, wearing this handmade print cotton dress and her original honey-colored human hair wig; later she moved back to France, and just recently, she arrived in America--still just as beautiful. She has a papier mache body and legs, with turned wood arms and composition hands. She has brown sleep eyes.
This is a much larger size 6 Eden Bebe made by the SFBJ during the WWI era, with set paperweight glass eyes and original human hair wig. She has slanted eyelashes, multi-stroke eyebrows, four teeth set in an open mouth, and a chin dimple.
Her head is marked 6, and her body has the tri-color round paper label used by the SFBJ. She is 57 cm or 22.5 inches.
You can see her body in the section on bodies below.
This is another lovely example of the unusual size 6 Eden Bebe. Her photo is courtesy of an Australian visitor to this website, whose mother was given the doll as a 6th birthday present by her parents in the 1920s. She was called Nada, and is a treasured possession destined to be passed down in the family.
Read my article about the SFBJ Eden Bebes, published by Antique Doll Collector in February, 2013. You can download the pdf file here:
Another early mold was the 60, which was used for Bleuette in the 8/0 size only, but was made in many other sizes--from 14/0 to the rare, large size 7.
These are two examples of the 60 mold dolls, in two different sizes: on the left a 4/0 and on the right a size 1&1/2. They have dark sleep eyes, open mouths with teeth, and fully jointed composition bodies. The smallest doll has single stroke eyebrows.
Below is the second smallest 60 made, a 9 inch, 23 cm, fully articulated 60 in size 12/0. She has sleep eyes, mohair eyelashes, single-stroke eyebrows, and four teeth. She is of the Unis France era between the two world wars. A 14/0 fully articulated 60 was also made--the smallest.
This 60 in size 4 was made from a material called "incassable" in the SFBJ catalogs. It was a material like papier mache, composed of layers of cardboard or paper and glue pressed into the mold with heat and steam. These unbreakable heads were given nice eyes, wigs, and face-painting, and the typical SFBJ bodies. Today we think of them as inferior to the bisque heads, but at the time they came out, the SFBJ charged more for them.
Another dolly-face mold made by the SFBJ is the 301. This is an early SFBJ, Paris, 301 in size 2. These were some of the first heads made of the 301 mold after WWI, and are distinguished by their pierced ears, extra nice painting, and sleep eyes. This example has white-painted, carved and glazed teeth, molded texture in her eyebrows, and mohair eyelashes, but still has the very dark eyes and smaller arms of the WWI period. Her body and feet are marked 3, and she has her original French leather shoes, marked 2.
The 301 mold was made from about 1915 until the company closed in 1957. It was used for some Bleuettes--but please see the Bleuette History section of the website for more information. In general, the 301 mold was used for better quality dolls than the 60, although lesser examples of the 301 can be found, and beautifully made 60s can be found. The 301 mold is well marked, with 301 and all the various markings used over time by the SFBJ: SFBJ Paris; SFBJ, Paris, France, and a date; 71 Unis France 149, with size number; and even a stamp saying "Tete Jumeau." The bodies of dolls made before and during WWI may have the round SFBJ sticker. Both bisque and composition heads were made, set and sleep eyes were used, mouths were usually open with teeth (although some composition heads and small 301s have a closed mouth), and one final characteristic is that the lower lashes are usually painted in a straight line, not slanted.
The doll above is a size 5 bisque 301 of about 15" (38 cm) with blue glass sleep eyes, open mouth with teeth, mohair wig, remnants of her mohair upper eye lashes, and fully jointed composition body. She is marked Unis France, 71 301 149, trademark (r in a circle) D. T. , 5. She is from the Unis France period of the SFBJ company, after 1924 or 25.
The 301 here is an incassable beauty with fully jointed body, blue glass sleep eyes, feet marked 8, head marked 301. She retains her original mohair wig and bright coloring. Her teeth are lithographed paper over cardboard. She is 19" or 48 cm.
Here is another incassable 301 mold, this time in size 2, 12 inches (30.5 cm). Like other 301s, she has straight-painted lower eyelashes, and mohair upper eyelashes. Her coloring is quite vivid, probably dating from the post WWII era. Her bright blue eyes are on rockers, and she has a French human hair wig. She is marked 71 Unis France 149, 301, and 2. Incassable Bleuette would be marked with the size number 1 & 1/2.
Finally, here is a smaller-than-Bleuette bisque 301 of 9" (23 cm). She, too, has a fully jointed composition body, and tiny French-made human hair wig. She has an open mouth with four carved white-painted teeth, and blue glass sleep eyes with mohair upper lashes. Her mark reads "FRANCE, SFBJ, 301, Paris, 2/0. "
This is the body of the size 6 Eden Bebe by the SFBJ, with their trademark sticker on her back. The sticker was in use from about 1910 through the WWI era.
She has the long turned wood thighs the SFBJ used to create a taller (more expensive) doll using the same body as smaller dolls.
No, it's not too pretty! The body is made of pressed cardboard and glue, stapled together, with unpainted composition for the legs, painted composition for the arms. The doll was sold nicely dressed with sewn on underclothing, sewn on dress, stockings, shoes and hat, and was more a display doll than a play doll. Some of the bodies had painted legs, even painted shoes. They are strung with elastic cord in the manner of an all-bisque doll, with the knots on the outside.
This is the fully jointed wood and composition body of the larger unbreakable or incassable 301.
This photo shows the mark the SFBJ used after about 1924 or 25: Unis France in an oval shape with the numbers 71 and 149, the mold 301, and a trademark and size 5 number.