Postcard Image

Postcard Image
As the Victorian era passed into the Edwardian and Roaring Twenties, a market developed for bisque and china bawdy novelties and figurines of women in revealing outfits. Although now most of these figurines seem more coy and cute than ribald and risque, in their time they symbolized the casting off of the perceived restraints of the Victorian era.

These little lovelies included bathing beauties, who came clad in swimsuits of real lace or in stylish painted beach wear, as well as mermaids, harem ladies, and nudies, who were meant to wear nothing more than an engaging smile. Also produced were flippers, innocent appearing figurines who reveal a bawdy secret when flipped over, and squirters, figurines that were meant to squirt water out of an appropriate orifice.

Most were manufactured in Germany from the late 1800s through the 1930s, often showing remarkable artistry and imagination, with Japan entering the market during World War I.

Jeepers, Creepers, Avoid These Fake Peepers! The 292 All-Bisque Googlies, Old and New.

These are authentic antique all-bisque German googly dolls. The boy and girl on each end are incised "292," the blond boy is unmarked, and the girl with the jointed knees and elbows is incised "111." She is the only one with sleep eyes, but also is the only one with a stiff neck.  Note while they all have big, appealing googly glass eyes, the eyes are still in proportion with their chubby cherubic faces.  They all have pudgy toddler bodies and molded socks with Mary Jane shoes.

However, there is a new 292 googly on the block, and I do mean new. These bug-eyed impostors started coming out of Germany shortly after reunification. They often come dressed in cute outfits made from vintage-looking fabrics (clown outfits and sailor suits seem to be the most popular styles), and sometimes are sold in their "original" boxes or tied to their "original" display cards.  

Here is one of these new notorious 292 German googlies undressed. The eyes are too large and round and the lashes splay out like bicycle spokes. Undressed you can see that the arms are too big and a poor fit to the body. Googlies should have chubby toddler bodies, but the fake has the pear-shaped body of an earlier style of all-bisque doll. Instead of the chubby legs with molded socks and plain Mary Jane shoes, the fake has the shirred stockings and two-strap shoes typical of earlier all-bisque girl dolls by J.D. Kestner.  The proportions on the doll are all wrong because it is an amalgamation of parts from different dolls. The cute costumes not only make the dolls very marketable, but disguise all these faults. The bisque and painting on the German fakes are generally very good.  

On March 31, 2009, Yvonne Baird interviewed renown doll expert Jan Foulke, author of the authoritative "Blue Books," for the National Antique Doll Dealers Association.  You can still read the interview here (scroll down to ", 31 Mar 2009" and click on [cached]).  In that interview, Ms. Foulke has this to say about the fake 292 googlies coming out of Germany: 

Right now, in the field of antique dolls, my biggest concern is the many fakes currently entering the doll market. Many of these are coming from Germany. Some disreputable dealers are saying they have dolls from the old factories, when actually what they have is dolls made to look like they came from the old factories. This is particularly happening in the field of small all-bisque dolls. You can go on a large internet selling site and see these small dolls being misrepresented. Many of them are being sold as all-original pairs tied on cards, as sets of salesman samples in boxes, as five little dolls on a card. There is one googly being widely sold, which is totally bogus. In a very deceiving way, it is marked 292, which is also a legitimate Kestner googly number.  However, the fake googly never even existed as an old doll. Be wary of Heubach all-bisque children, especially in original boxes. Many of these fake dolls are now being resold and beginning to show up in US auctions, dealers' ads  and booths at doll shows. I am afraid that they will be around to haunt us for a long time.

"Antiques and Art in New South Wales" magazine also carried a warning regarding the fake 292 googlies in its May 2012 edition.


  1. Interesting article but I have to disagree with the points you make here. I'm a professional doll maker and doll collector for many years, and I think I can recognize an antique doll from a replica.
    You try to prove that this googly was fabricated and it's not an original antique doll and I have some questions and facts for you about your story.
    One of your reasons you state that this googly cannot be an antique is because the eyes are not in proportion with the face. Well, I can show you other examples of real antique googlies that have huge eyes, really out of proportion. Just make a little research... I have several googly dolls in my collection, including the googly that you claim to be a fake. The painting of the lashes on this googly is in the same style as other googlies I have in my collection, nothing strange about them. This bisque painting and quality is also like my other all bisque googlies. The proportions of this googly body are unusual, I agree, the arms are too long...etc, so are the proportions of some other antique dolls. There were no specific rules that a certain body should be realistic or in the same style as all the other same types of dolls, in fact you see many dolls with very short arms, with really long ones too... There was a big variety of dolls being made and all the companies wanted to bring something different to the doll market back then. This is one of the things that makes this googly interesting. And you also state that all bisque googlies should have Mary Jane shoes? Really, have you looked at many googly dolls?? Many have not! You also claim that this doll is an "amalgamation of parts from different dolls". This is also not a fact! You probably never saw and inspected one of these googlies yourself, otherwise you would see that all parts of the googly (head, torso, legs and arms) are in fact marked with the same number serial number 292. 10. How coincidental is that! Also, you would need many of the same excavated parts, to build up a large number of dolls that have exactly the same body.... In my opinion the only think that I question is if this was a Kestner doll or not. The head mould of this doll is different that the Kestner googly with the same serie number 292 10. For me this doll could be also from another maker like Theodor Recknagel or Hertwig. I feel that there is much to know about antique dolls and the makers. We cannot assume we know it all because we don't.

    1. I believe the doll is fake solely on the artist initials on the top left of the head. An original wouldn't have that. Most doll artists are not only proud of their work, but honest

  2. Sorry I made some grammar and orthographic mistakes, English is not my first language. I just hope I could explain my message clearly.

  3. Your English is very good. It is not just my opinion that these big-eyed 292 googles are modern fantasies. As I note in my posting, renown doll researcher Jan Foulke believes these dolls are modern creations. I know other prominent dealers and collectors who share this opinion. I have examined several of these googles. Having collected all-bisque dolls for many years, I have never seen an antique doll that combined wire and loop jointing or body styles from so any different eras. Matching limb numbers are not a sign of authenticity, as these can be added to the mold. Yes, some googles, like the Kestner 221, over very large round eyes, but they still are proportional to the face. One issue I have with these dolls, is that no one can point me to any doll book, article, or catalogue picturing one of these big-eyed googly all-bisque dolls prior to the reunification of Germany. While not common, these dolls show up regularly at doll shows and auctions. Surely, if this model existed prior to 1989, some earlier article, book, or catalogue would have pictured such a charming little doll. The quality of these dolls is very good, just like the quality of the new "antique" Gebruder Heubach characters and all-bisque dolls in their "original" clothes and "original" boxes currently coming out of Germany and deceptively being sold as authentic antiques, often at very high prices. Fortunately, many collectors and venues are starting to recognize these dolls as modern creations: Thank you for visiting my blog and stating your opinion.

  4. Thank you for your reply, I'm very interested in knowing more sources of your opinion. I tried do find the article from Jan Foulk but I couldn't find it on the web. Maybe you could give me a link? That would be great! I read an interesting article on the fake Heubach character dolls you mention on the NADDA organization. I'm surprised that in the whole article they mention many fake, pretending to be antique dolls being produced in Germany nowadays but not this specific googly...
    Here is de article (that you probably already know) :

  5. Here is the direct link to the cached article on the NADDA page: Also, in my above posting, I have a link to an article in "Antiques and Art in New South Wales" warning of the new 292 googly dolls. Hope you find these of interest.

  6. Thank you for the link, it is an interesting article. The part were Jan Foulke talks about the 292 "fake" googlies I had already read on your blog. It's a pity that he does not explain the reasons why he thinks that the googly is fake.
    Being a doll maker, besides collecting dolls, what makes me wonder the most about this situation is why would someone have the trouble to create a new googly when they could just fake an existing one? I know how much work is involved in sculpting the prototype, making plaster moulds of it and then making the actual doll...It's a lot of work and you have to have very good skills to make something with that quality. I understand that the body could have been taken from existing parts and altered...but what about the head? Were does it come from? It's certainly a completely different mould that the Kestner 292 googly head...So, did somebody recently just sculpted this googly head from scratch, made plaster moulds, etc..? If someone wants to forge a doll, why not make it easier and just make a typical googly doll, choosing googly typical parts to make the doll more reliable, I also wonder... Normally people that fake dolls use popular moulds for the trick... Why would a person create a completely new doll (that does not fit the googly normal characteristics) to call an antique? That would be too much work and too risky! Just my thoughts on this...
    Here is a link to an example of a googly from Theodor Recknagel with extremely large, out of proportion, googly eyes (the painting and look of these googly eyes is very close to the googly 292 doll I own):

  7. The Recknagel doll is another modern fantasy creation. I and other collectors have contacted the website, but have not been heeded. These big-eyed Recknagels are often found in what is claimed to be their original boxes and dressed in their "original" costumes (yet curiously bright and fresh for an item almost a century old!). These are not newly created heads, just molds taken from existing googly heads with extra-large eye holes. Again, no one has pointed out to me any such Recknagel doll pictured BEFORE 1989. One reason for the oversized eye holes may be because when a mold is taken from a head, the resulting head is smaller than the original. And why would anyone go through the trouble to create these modern fantasies? Money, pure and simple. Googles are very popular in the antique dolls world, collectors are always seeking something rare and unique. These big-eyed googles, often claimed to be old forgotten store stock or salesman's sample, are very appealing, especially when dressed in cute costumes and presented in their "original boxes." Some of these dolls have sold for several thousand dollars. Currently, there are German dealers on eBay offering "all original" and "rare" Heubach characters, all-bisque dolls, and candy containers for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

  8. The fake dolls are all about the money, just look at the prices being asked for them. To those of us who have collected for decades it's obvious. Don't shoot the messengers, we are only trying to educate and hopefully keep collectors from being deceived.

  9. The Recknagel big eye googly doll was removed from the page & a note & link to your page has been added to the reference sites googly doll page. Thank you for your vigilance in catching these fakes and sharing about them Sharon.