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Lolly's original Antique Greiner Doll
About Ludwig Greiner
by Lolly Yocum

Ludwig Greiner was born in Germany. He immigrated to the United States in the 1830’s and settled in Philadelphia. There he made paper mache doll heads. His patent of March 30th in 1858 was one of the earliest US patents of dolls. The early paper labels glued to the doll heads read " GREINER’S IMPROVED PATENT HEADS Pat. March 30th ‘58". His patent called for cloth to reinforce the paper mache. The paper mache recipe was one pound of white paper cooked and beaten, then add one pound each of dry Spanish whiting and rye flour, then add one ounce of glue. The original patent was extended in 1872. After his death in 1874 his sons carried on the business until 1884. Dolls ranged in size from 13 to 36 inches in height. The heads were painted in oil and finished with varnish. This varnish often yellows. Most dolls have dark turquoise blue eyes however a few brown eyed dolls have been seen. Some dolls with glass eyes have been seen as well. The earliest dolls were all brunettes, the blonde haired dolls came later. A variety of hairstyles were made. A few of the later hair styles  have been found with either blonde or brunette hair. If the paper label is missing the dolls can easily be dated by their hairstyle. The doll heads have been found on various cloth bodies. Most of these bodies have leather hands, either white or tan. Some were made by Jacob Lacmann (patent 1871). Since Jacob Lacmann was witness to Greiners will, it seems that the two were well acquainted. Some dolls have cloth legs, while others have a stocking/leather boot combination that is attributed to Mary Steuber (patented in 1878). The variety of bodies found on Greiner Patent Head dolls leads one to believe that they were sold both as heads alone, to have bodies made at home and as finished dolls. No factory clothing has been found. The dolls were dressed at home. The most common type of dress is usually red cotton with a low neckline and a full skirt. The charm and innocence of these early dolls is unmistakable.

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