Skinner Auctions Richard Wright Collection of Rare & Important Dolls

BOSTON, Mass. – Sept 22, 2009 – www.skinnerinc.comSkinner, one of the nation’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art, today announced that it will offer at auction the Richard Wright Collection of Rare & Important Dolls on Oct. 10, 2009 at 11 a.m. in its Marlborough, Massachusetts gallery at 274 Cedar Hill Street. Marlborough, MA.  Comprising more than 450 lots, the Wright Collection includes extraordinarily fine and unusual examples of dolls, doll furniture, toys and accessories from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.  Featured will be 18th century wooden dolls, plus papier-mache, china, parian, and bisque examples.  The Richard Wright Doll Collection is one of the most prominent collections to be seen in the auction world in many years.

Richard Wright was a renowned antiques expert and an icon in the world of fine dolls.  His success as a dealer was matched only by his passion as a collector.  A prominent and colorful appraiser on the PBS series, Antiques Roadshow, Wright had an appreciation not only for the valuable, but the unusual, the rare and the original.  His

In bringing this collection to auction, Skinner has teamed with Andy and Becky Ourant of Adamstown, Pennsylvania.  The Ourants, well-known figures in the field of dolls and doll collectibles, as well as close personal and professional friends of Mr. Wright, will bring their extensive knowledge and love of the material to the sale of this estate.  Andy Ourant summed up the importance of the Wright Collection this way:  “The Richard Wright Collection is an exemplary private collection that rivals doll collections seen in major museums.  In short the Wright Collection is a life-long appreciation in the study of the history of playthings.  We are so pleased to be able to honor our friend and colleague in this way.”

Early Dolls

A wide and varied selection of early dolls in very fine condition grace the sale.  Of note is a Queen Anne lady doll in a mahogany and walnut case (lot 40, est. $50/70,000), c. 1720.  This was Wright’s signature doll, which was often captured in his business marketing materials.  Also highlighted is an important portrait-type carved wood doll from Germany (lot 52, est. $40/60,000), which is believed to have been acquired by Wright via private treaty sale at Sotheby’s London in the 1980s.  Undocumented anecdotal history purports that this doll was commissioned by a member of Dutch royalty.  Other featured dolls include a German wooden doll with wardrobe, maker unknown but probably Oberammergau (lot 251, est. $50/70,000); a China lady with bun and wardrobe and glazed porcelain head (lot 352, est. $15/20,000) made in Germany; and a Queen Anne lady doll from England, c. 1750 (lot 70, est. $8/12,000).  Finally, two gentleman (lots 221 and 224) and two lady (lots 222 and 223), all four estimated at $3/4,000).  Eighteenth century gesso-over-wood German dolls round out the early offerings.

German Dolls

An important papier-mâché lady is expected to draw interest due to the rarity of its looped braids of waxed human hair (lot 61, est. $10/15,000).  Also being offered are two highly sought after KPM China dolls, a lady with bun (lot 53, est. $8/10,000) and a gentleman (lot 54, est. $7/9.000); and a Kris Kringle doll (lot 21, est. $6/8,000), the body covered by approximately fifty-five period playthings, offers an extraordinary glimpse of Christmas in 1852.   The cover lots, several boy dolls, far rarer than their female counterparts, include a gentleman with a molded hat (lot 246, est. $3/4,000); a Scottish highlander (lot 3, est. $3/4,000); and a soldier with molded helmet (lot 66, est. $3/4,000).

A fine selection of German character dolls will also be offered including a Kestner 208 doll (lot 79, est. $25/30,000); a Steiff German soldier (lot 102, est. $1,5/2,000); a gentleman candle holder (lot 103, est. $2/3,000); an Armand Marseille girl (lot 106, est. $10/12,000); a Kämmer & Reinhardt 107 boy (lot 107, est. $20/30,000); a Kämmer & Reinhardt girl, “Elise” (lot 108, est. $15/20,000); a Franz Schmidt 1262 girl (lot 225, est. $20/25,000); a Heubach toddler child (lot 234, est. $10/12,000); and a rare Simon & Halbig 1388 smiling girl (lot 235, est. $25/30,000).

Other German dolls to be featured include portrait dolls such as an Admiral George Dewey doll (lot 115, est. $1,5/2,000); another admiral doll (lot 116, est. $1,5/2,000); and a President William McKinley doll (lot 117, est. $1,5/2,000).  Two fine African American portrait dolls up for bid are a Recknagel doll (lot 119, est. $3/4,000) and a Simon & Halbig 1358 doll (lot 120, est. $6/8,000), each more truly ethnic looking than other black dolls of the time that were made from white doll molds, but painted black.

French Dolls

A small selection of French dolls represents the country’s golden period of doll making.  Fine examples include two Jacob Petit China ladies (lots 25 and 67, est. $8/10,000 and $7/9,000, respectively).  Also featured are good examples of Bebés including a wonderful Jumeau Bebé, so called “Elizabeth” (lot 95, est. $10/12,000) that was Wright’s mother’s doll; and a rare all original Joanny Bebé (lot 285, est. $10/12,000).  Finally, both doll and automata collectors alike will find a Roullet & Decamps magician automaton (lot 137, est. $25/35,000) of interest, as well as a Vichy waltzing couple musical automaton (lot 138, est. $4/6,000) and a bisque Mephistopheles automaton head and arms under a dome (lot 139, est. $1/1,500).

American Dolls

Highly sought after Izannah Walker dolls include two painted cloth children (lots 128 and 335, est. $15/18,000 and $10/12,000, respectively).  Also offered is a fine selection of Martha Chase dolls highlighted by a rare “Alice in Wonderland” four-piece set (lot 30, est. $30/40,000).  Additional Chase dolls include rare Dickens characters, “Little Nell” (lot 131, est. $4/6,000), “Mr. Micawber” (lot 132, est. $4/6,000), and “Mrs. Gamps” (lot 133, est. $4/6,000); as well as a girl with side-part hair (lot 130, est. $8/1,200).


Several lots of teddy bears will also go on the block.  Of note is a rare Steiff Petsy bear (lot 226, est. $7/9,000) and a Steiff white teddy with glass eyes (lot 232, est. $6/7,000).   Several items up for auction speak to Wright’s whimsical and curious nature.  Included in this category is a rare prosopotrope three-face doll head by Ozias Morse with original label (lot 121, est. $2/3,000); a Belsnickel squeak toy (lot 68, est. $2/3,000); and an early carved wood knitting lady toy (lot 69, est. $3/4,000).

Doll Accessories and Furniture

An impressive Georgian wood three-story doll house (lot 149, est. $10/15,000), previously owned by noted doll collector Dorothy Dixon, is the focus on the accessory offerings and much of the furniture being offered in the sale come out of its dwelling.  For collectors of furnishings, also of note is a rare American tin toy sled (lot 27, est. $2/3,000) and an American red painted and carved miniature ladder-back rocking chair (lot 247, est. $2/2,500).

Previews, Catalog and Bidding

Previews for the Richard Wright Collection, Session I will be held on Thursday, Oct 8th from 12 to 5 p.m., on Friday, Oct 9th from 12 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, Oct 10th from 9 to 10:30 a.m.  Illustrated catalog #2476 is available by mail for $35 ($42 for foreign requests) from the subscription department at 508-970-3240.  It is also available at the gallery for $32.  Prices realized will be available at during and after the sale.  Skinner’s site also allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live in real-time through Skinner-Live.  To register for real-time bidding go to  Or, for more information call 508-970-3000.

Save the Date:  Richard Wright Collection, Session II

Skinner closes out the month of October with Session II of the Richard Wright Collection:  Decorative Arts & Furniture, to be held October 24th at 11 a.m. in Skinner’s Boston gallery.  Wright’s exuberance as a collector extended to a wide variety of European pottery and porcelain, including an extensive collection of Martin Brothers pottery, Doulton Lambeth stoneware, and Zsolnay ceramics. Highlights of the collection include three important Tiffany leaded glass table lamps, including a large and extremely rare Peony pattern variant, a Dragonfly shade, and a Jonquil pattern lamp. Art Nouveau furniture was also a passion of Wright’s, who assembled an impressive group of Galle and Majorelle carved and inlaid pieces, one piece having been previously in the collection of John Lennon.  Wright’s eclectic nature and special “eye” is further manifested in a wide variety of objects, including a watercolor by Arthur Rackham illustrating a scene from Milton’s Comus, and a large bronze version of Bruno Zach’s The Riding Crop.

About Skinner

Skinner, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading auction houses for antiques and fine art and the only major auction house headquartered in New England.  With expertise in over 20 specialty collecting areas, Skinner draws the interest of buyers from all over the world and its auctions regularly achieve world record prices.  Skinner provides a broad range of auction and appraisal services, and it is widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the auction business.   Skinner’s appraisal experts regularly appear on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, and its specialty departments include American Furniture & Decorative Arts, American & European Paintings & Prints, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, 20th Century Design, Fine Ceramics, Fine Jewelry, Textiles & Couture, Fine Musical Instruments, Asian Works of Art, Fine Wines, Rare Books & Manuscripts, Science,  Technology, & Clocks, Oriental Rugs & Carpets, American Indian & Ethnographic Art, Fine Judaica, Antique Motor Vehicles, Toys, Dolls & Collectibles, and Discovery.  Skinner galleries are located in Boston and Marlborough, Mass.  For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s website <>.



2 thoughts on “Skinner Auctions Richard Wright Collection of Rare & Important Dolls

  1. I have corn husk dolls and would like to get information as to what type. Would like to send an image. Thanks

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