Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doll Study: K&K Bisque Head "Mama" Doll - Part 2

Although I am unsure which German firm made the bisque head for the K&K doll that was reviewed in Part 1 of this study, I do have information about the firm that made the other parts of the doll.

 K&K Toy Company was owned by the George Borgfeldt Company.  It was established in 1915 in New York City and produced dolls for Borgfeldt until they ceased operations after being sold to the Cameo Company in 1925.  K&K produced many dolls for Borgfeldt, including Kewpies, Flossie Fisher's Own Doll, Hollikids, Happifats, Bye-lo Baby, Betsy Ross, Red Riding Hood, and Rose Marie.  In 1924 they advertised that the "K and K stands for Kept Klean", but it is speculated that it really stood for George Kolb and Fred Kolb, or Kahle and Kolb, all of them men who held responsible and high level positions in the Borgfeldt company.

For you scholarly types, thirsting after more information about the complicated and long history of the George Borgfeldt Company, I recommend articles written in the UFDC Doll News Magazine by Jennylou Hamilton Schoelwer - Summer 2000 and Summer 2001 issues.  This is absolutely required reading for anyone hoping to understand the complicated marketing and production system that the Borgfeldt Company established in the United States, bringing artist and producers together,  and producers and wholesale buyers together, both internationally and in America.
To obtain copies of these articles, contact the UFDC office for a copy of the article or a back issue of the magazine if it is available. They can tell you the price.  This is what you want: 
Borgfeldt, George - Dolls of the Early Years:  SU00,40
Borgfeldt, George - 1901-1960, Kolb Years: SU01,38

For those who like to look at beautiful photos of dolls, I recommend "Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls, 1900 - 1950, Volume II" by Ursula R. Mertz. This is a beautiful book with wonderful color photos, and she includes a section about the Borgfeldt Company and the K&K dolls. On the box of at least some of the K&K dolls it says "Made Under Sanitary Conditions" and Ms. Mertz said that this phrase was frequently used by Borgfeldt in their advertising. There is one photo of a K&K doll made with a German bisque head and two photos of composition head K&K mama dolls. I found the following quote from this book very informative relative to my search: "It is a little known fact that in the 1920s Borgfeldt and the Horsman Company (there may have been others) produced some mama dolls with German-made bisque heads. They always used American-made composition limbs for these and construction was identical to the composition mama dolls." Ms. Mertz also pointed me to the above mentioned Doll News articles, by mentioning it in her Borgfeldt section. I do not yet have Volume I of the this book, and it may also include information about the K&K dolls and Borgfeldt.

Based on the emphasis that the Borgfeldt company placed on letting their customers know that their dolls were made under sanitary conditions and that K and K stands for Kept Klean, I am now wondering if many toys in the late 1800s and early 1900s were made in filthy conditions, with unsanitary and unhealthy materials?  Or did they mean that they protected their workers from unsanitary and unhealthy conditions during production of the dolls?


  1. The K & K dolls, K and K Toy company, Inc. bisque doll heads are believed to be made by Alt, Beck & Gottschalck. Nice article.

    1. thank you for that information.....can you point me to any reference materials so that I may learn more?