E. Gesland was known for his advertisement that he can repair dolls especially Bebe dolls in ten minutes. Gesland started his doll manufacturing business in 1860 in Paris where they manufactured dolls and replace broken doll parts specifically doll heads until 1928. It was known that Gesland ordered bisque heads from famous bisque doll manufacturers such as Rabery & Delphieu, Verlingue, F. Gaultier, and perhaps other manufacturers of French bisque. The early Gesland dolls created by the company were made of high quality materials and had the best body features. The typical Gesland dolls’ limbs and bodies were made of steel with an outer layer of tin.
To allow movement when handling the dolls, Gesland created them with riveted joints. This made the doll posable in lifelike positions. The doll’s body structure was wrapped with cotton or kapok which gave the doll its natural figure. On top of the cotton body, another layer of fine lambskin or stockinette was added. The rest of the body parts especially the feet and hands were intricately shaped with and were made or either painted wood or bisque. Most of these dolls were then marked with the Gesland label and can measure from 10 inches to 31 inches.
Today, the earliest dolls made by Gesland can cost $5,400 to as much as $9,500 as long as it is in mint condition. And if you are lucky enough to find a rare doll piece which is man with masculine features and molded derby, the price of a mint type doll like this is double the cost of a female doll. Naturally, stains, stiff joints, badly repaired damages, and flaws on the bisque can depreciate the value of the doll.
Here are some common descriptions of Gesland’s dolls:
1) Poupee de Mode – It was made of a kid-lined bisque shoulder, swivel bisque head, metal covered body frame, wooden or bisque hands and feet, wig, paperweight eyes, feathered eyebrows and long eyelashes, closed mouth, and pierced ears. Typical markings on the dolls’ body were: “R.D.”, “F.G.”, “E. Gesland Bte F.G.” , and “E. Gesland Bte S.G.D.G./Paris”.
2) Bebe – The doll had a jointed composition body or the usual metal covered frame, bisque socket head, (wooden/ composition/ bisque) hands and feet, feathered brows and long lashes, paperweight eyes, closed mouth, and pierced ears. Typical markings on it were: “ F.G.”, “R.D.”, “Bte S.G.D.G./ Reparations en tous genres/ 5 & 5 Rue Beranger/ En Boutique / Paris”, “A. Gesland Fave de Babes/ & Tetes incassables”.
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