Thanks to a Theriault’s special auction in early 2001, we have a great record of the factory sample cards for small German all-bisque dolls from the Hertwig factory from the 1890s to the 1930s. For doll collectors and historians, it is a delight to see what types of dolls came from Hertwig and similar bisque factories, especially since most of these dolls come to us unmarked as to the maker of the dolls.
The photo is a detail from one of the sample cards from that auction, one that I own and keep in my doll work-bench area. I especially love these cards because it shows us how these dolls were sold to stores in the early 20th Century. Can’t you just see the Hertwig sales representative showing up at a Five-and-Dime with a giant box of these cards (heavy!) and the retailer pointing at the doll/stock number to order the dolls for their store? Quite a far cry from today, when so much manufacturer’s stock is now shown online. When I had my bricks and mortar retail store from 2001-2011, at the beginning, many samples were still shown to me physically in person, then more and more by catalogs as manufacturers were cutting sales staff in response to Internet in-roads into sales, and finally, most product was simply shown online. By the way, as a retailer, I disliked seeing product only online–it’s so hard to determine quality that way, especially with un-established brands. But I digress.
Back to the Hertwig Factory cards. The sample cards show all bisque dolls, Kewpie dolls, baby dolls, comic nodders, bisque animals, character dolls, dollhouse dolls, half- dolls, and figurines. The original auction catalog is still available from Theriault’s if you are interested in seeing more. Also, if you would like to own one of these cards, they sometimes come up at auction or online as collections are sold.