Bisque German & French Doll Body Types

Antique Doll Body Types


This section is to explain the basic antique doll body styles that the majority of antique dolls were constructed out of.  Please see the menu for  clothing for these styles of dolls.

There are, of course other materials, such as metal, paper mache etc. that were on similar antique doll body styles, but for discussion purposes, it is assumed that all the heads on these bodies were made of bisque.

How do you know that your doll’s head is made of bisque? In simple terms, bisque and china heads are both made of porcelain, a dense fired clay also used for dishes.  Dolls with China heads are white. (for more information refer to china, parian section on menu).  The  porcelain is left white with a high shine glaze applied and fired onto the head.   Bisque head dolls have a tinted flesh tone paint that is fired onto them,  making  the head a skin tone.


Ball Jointed Bodies –  It is common to call ball jointed bodies composition bodies, but, in fact, they are actually made of paper mache with wood inserts to support the limbs at the joints.  The finish is painted on, a varnish is applied, which, over the years, yellows to patina.  Most ball jointed bodies are meant to be children, but there are a few shapely hour-glass types that  are meant to be women.   While there are design differences between German and French ball jointed bodies, one main indicator of a French body is that the wrists are straight.

antique doll body

German ball jointed body for  child doll with dolly face

antique doll body

German ball jointed composition toddler body for character doll head




Leather Bodies – Leather bodies are, essentially made of kid leather, stuffed with cork or sawdust.  The higher end models have hinges at the joints that do not wear as readily as the gusseted type. Gussets are an additional piece of leather at the joint to simulate a joint and allowing the joint to bend to some degree.  The lower arms are generally bisque or composition,  with the lower legs being leather, cloth, paper mache or bisque.  The heads that fit on this type of body have a shoulder plate that seats on the top of the shoulders and is held in place with criss-crossing tabs of leather.



antique doll body with paper mache legs

Antique German leather doll body with composition legs

antique doll body with cloth lower legs

Antique German leather doll body with hinge hips & gusset knees

2 antique doll bodies

Antique leather German doll bodies with cloth legs & gusset joints


Baby Bodies – Baby bodies are 5 pieces, torso, arms and legs.  They are made of composition or cloth and sometimes leather.   The heads have a bisque neck portion or shoulder plate to fit into the body, or in the case of a cloth body, a flange on the neck, allowing a drawstring to snugly  hold the head on.

antique doll body for baby doll

Antique German character baby

antique doll body Byelo baby  celluloid hands bisque head

Antique Byelo baby with cloth body, celluloid hands bisque head

antique doll body for German character doll

Typical character baby doll with composition 5 piece body


French Fashion – French fashion doll bodies are made of leather or wood products.  They are designed to be shapely women with small waists and large hips.  Popular in the 1880’s, they were to display the most elegant fashions of the day.


French fashion antique doll body

Antique French Fashion doll with leather body

French Fashion doll  with a ball jointed antique doll body

Antique French Fashion doll with a ball jointed body

Ready to Send Your Doll?


Janie Nafsinger
17122 W. Locust Lane
Caldwell, Idaho 83607

Process & FAQ
 Process & FAQ

CLICK here to find out how the process works from sending your doll, completion time, payment info and shipping.


The doll arrived and she is absolutely beautiful. You did an outstanding job on her, I was going to sell her but now I am definitely keeping her for my ...

Marianne Kerr
Composition fashion doll