One of the ingenious methods of handcrafting dolls in the past can be seen in the creations of Albert Bruckner. His dolls were produced in 1901 and the dolls were made from a molded mask that was the product of Bruckner’s familiarity with lithography after spending several years at the Gray Lithographing Company. He was originally into lithography, which was a common printing process in the past in which stone and wax were used primarily to fix ink on fabric and paper.
Albert Bruckner’s knowledge of this printing process was applied to his doll creations on which he obtained a patent for such an idea on July 8, 1901. Bruckner was then known to create dolls for the Horsman Company with his Babyland Rag doll line. By 1905, the popular character dolls in the line were Betty and Topsy, who stood around 12 inches. The model was called the other way around as the two are stitched together in the torso area just like conjoined twins.
The pair of upside-down dolls Bruckner was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel titled “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in which a character was named Topsy. The upside down doll was also included in the Babyland rag doll catalog in 1907. Today these dolls are highly sought-after collectors’ items characterized by a molded mask with a lithographed image. The character, Betty, has Caucasian features, while Topsy has African-American features. Topsy has black braided pigtails and a red scarf to complete her stylish outfit. Betty, for her part, rocked a cream and red dress with a cap on her lithographed hair.
Bruckner employed the same printing technique on his dolls from 1901 to 1930. Upside down dolls were the most popular as they were like a 2-in-1 doll where you get another character once you flip the doll over. The other doll‘s head and torso can also be covered with the dress or skirt that is neatly sewn in the middle. Later the doll was named Tu-N-One. Other dolls that came out were characters from fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood. Dollypop was another cloth doll with a lithographed face and hand-painted features that was patented in 1925. The dolls were also sold in famous department stores such as Macy’s and FAO Schwartz.
Collectors will find some of Bruckner’s original doll creations on online auction sites. Most of his dolls were part of the Horsman Company’s Babyland Rag Dolls and generally measure between 13 and 28 inches. Typical features of Bruckner dolls are those that have flat, simple faces painted in relief with mitten-like hands. Dolls in good condition with the tags still intact can cost between $179 and $250 in today’s market.