1997 32¢ Ludwig Greiner
Classic American Dolls
Issue Date: July 28, 1997
City: Anaheim, CA
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 10.9 x 11.1
Listed as a “Toy Man” as early as 1840 in a Philadelphia directory, German-born Ludwig Greiner received the first-known American doll patent for manufacturing his paper-mâché doll heads on March 30, 1858 – although it is believed that he made dolls for some time before registering for his patent. The heads were made from linen-reinforced paper mâché – a substance also referred to as “composition.” The original formula called for Spanish whiting (a gesso-like substance), white paper, rye flour, and glue. This was then pressed into a mold and the finished head was painted.
In his patent application, Greiner stated that the finished dolls’ heads were “painted with oiled paint so that children may not suck off the paint.” And although he advertised his product as “Greiner Everlasting Doll Heads,” the paint on the noses and chins frequently wore off from washing and handling. Even so, Greiner dolls are in great demand today.
Strongly influenced by the German china-head figures, Greiner’s dolls featured solemn faces and wavy molded hair. Early dolls have black hair; many made after 1872 are blond. Displayed on the front are several other period dolls from the Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art, whose collection also includes an 1858 Greiner.