Rare antique doll almost thrown away in house clearance could fetch £17,000 at auction

The doll is one of few known to still exist. Credit: Vectis Auctions

A doll that was saved from the skip during a house clearance is estimated to fetch up to £17,000 at auction.

Antique experts at Vectis Auctions in Thornaby, Teesside, have identified the doll as a 'Kammer & Reinhardt Walter 102 bisque antique character', dating back to approximately 1910.

Although the doll has suffered some damage, an estimate of £12,000-17,000 has been placed on the lot.

Clothed in original knitted ecru cotton bodysuit, hand-made contemporary cotton checked shirt, navy woollen shorts, navy woollen cape with hood and cotton checked trim - the doll stands at approx 56 cm (22 inches) high.

The doll has suffered some damage to one leg. Credit: Vectis Auctions

The vendor told the auction house: “The doll belonged to my grandmother who passed away 30 years ago. Since then he has been in my mum’s possession.

"He has always lived in the living room on the sofa for as long as I can remember and our late dog chewed his foot off when he was a naughty puppy."

"My mum unfortunately is now unwell and emptying her house we found him again. Due to having so much furniture and mementos to sort out, we were having to be quite ruthless with what we were keeping so I put him on the pile of things to be skipped.

"However, my husband remembered the doll fondly and decided to put him in the 'to keep pile' and afterwards we realised how special he was.”

The doll was assessed by antiques specialist Kathy Taylor. Credit: Vectis Auctions

Few examples are known to exist, and the doll is one of the world's rarest in this larger size with fine modelling, intensity of expression and translucent painting.

A 1912 newspaper cited they were “Not dolls - they should be called real children”.

These expressive, life-like antique dolls were modelled on real children from the 1909-1912 period and were the passion of adults, rather than children.

According to Vectis Auctions, during 1909-1914 almost all sales of dolls disappeared overnight, when the war and inflation resulted in the production of more popular baby dolls and expressionless “pretty” faced dolls.

The lot will go under the hammer on 6 June 2023.

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