Beautiful Low Brow and Pet Name Chinas

Most blessed greetings for our Summer Solstice, and almost a full moon as well! You have been a most virtuous and patient audience this week and more, since my last posting.

As promised, I have Dorothy here for you to meet, as well as her companion, Fiona, and wee Helen. These china dolls were all made by the Hertwig & Co. porcelain factory which was located in Katzhutte, Thuringia, Germany from 1864 to 1941. In Identifying German Chinas, Mary Krombholz tells us that Hertwig made millions of lowbrow, or common, china shoulder head dolls from the late 1880’s on, even though bisque dolls were at the height of their popularity by then.

“Pet Name” chinas, like Dorothy and Helen, were first introduced in 1895, and were advertised for sale for at least 25 years. There were at least twelve names, which included Agnes, Bertha, Dorothy, Edith, Esther, Ethel, Florence, Helen, Mabel, Marian, Pauline, and Ruth. Lowbrow dolls continued to be produced throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, though the quality of the dolls was poor in these decades. The Pet Name and lowbrow dolls were often mounted on Nanking cotton bodies stuffed with cotton, and they often had china scoop hands that were interchangeable for left and right. The china legs of these later dolls were usually black with ribs above the shoe (like my grandmother’s doll had), or with small brown shoes with molded buttons.


Dorothy is the first antique china shoulder head doll that I purchased, and I did not know much about the chinas at that time. I found Dorothy sitting all alone on a chair at the antique shop at Marlboro, Connecticut during our visit there in August 2011.  I thought she was unusual with her molded blouse and collar, and the gold gilt name across it.  So you see, she brought her name with her. While I was shopping, another customer saw her on the counter and asked if she was for sale.  Guess she is a popular lady!  It turns out that the Pet Name dolls are desirable because of their variation.   My grandmother had a china doll (that I now know was a lowbrow) that dated to 1900, she said–the same year she was born. I wanted to keep her doll, but she did not come to me. Dorothy is a little like my grandmother’s doll, but fancier with her Pet Name.

Dorothy was made by the Hertwig Porcelain factory between about 1895 and 1910. A raised mold mark on the back of her shoulder plate reads PATENT APPD FOR/GERMANY. Her shoulder head is 5” tall with four sew holes. She has well defined black curls with the bottom half of her ears exposed, blue eyes with no iris outline, and a slightly turned to the right head. She has a molded blouse with Peter Pan Collar, a ribbon tie, and her name molded on the front with gold paint. She has well formed china hands with thumbs, and fat china legs with high heeled black china boots with yellow soles. Her body is soft stuffed pink cotton. I cannot tell if it is original, or not. She is 23” tall.


When I found her, Dorothy was dressed in a nicely made white with pink roses print dress with a lace collar, a white under blouse, and simple petticoat and pantaloons with net lace trim. This is the dress I put on Ellen (May 23, 2013 Post) because it is too short for this lady doll. I also removed her long sleeved under blouse so that her molded collar is more visible.  She is now wearing a tea stained cutwork lace flounced petticoat over her original petticoat and pantaloons. Her dress with the blue dots and snowflakes is an antique one that I purchased at some unknown antique shop years ago for about $2. (Oh, but those days are gone!) I am guessing that the fabric print is late 1800’s to early 1900’s. I repaired the fragile white lace collar and cuffs with hand stitching.  This dress is just the right length, but the waist is not big enough (she’s a buxom girl) so it is pinned in back.


Helen is also a Pet Name china from the same factory and era as Dorothy. She is a 2” tall shoulder head with no sew holes and she has blonde hair. Blonde hair china dolls were rare before the 1880’s but by the time the low brows were being offered, one third of the china dolls had blonde hair. Helen is marked PATENTAPPDFOR, GERMANY on the back of her shoulder, she has the molded blouse with gold painted collar and name, but her head is not turned. Helen does not have a body.


Fiona is Dorothy’s companion, and she is a 17” tall blonde Hertwig low brow china doll. Her shoulder head is 4 ½” tall with four sew holes and has no markings.  Her head is slightly turned to the right. She has light blue eyes with no highlights, light brown brows, and brick red eyelid crease line and lips.  The lower half of her ears are exposed, but not well defined. She has a well proportioned body that may not be original.  Her cupped hands have five fingers in a row without a distinguishable thumb, so they are interchangeable.  She has beautiful high heeled boots with painted laces in the front, yellow painted soles, and blue ribbons painted at her knees.


Fiona came dressed in an elaborate and beautiful polyester satin gold gown that was sewn onto her body in the typical 1970’s re-dress your old doll style.  It was a painstaking process for me to get it off in one piece.  Fiona now wears Dorothy’s white blouse with openwork lace front yoke and sleeves, and an antique child’s petticoat with lots of pintucks and a soft lace flounce.  Wrapped around and tied with its self-tie, it makes a lovely Edwardian white dress in the appropriate style (but too long) for this fresh young lady.  I have added a green enamel and pearl pendant necklace to finish her stylish ensemble.  She is now my Edwardian beauty.


Thank you for stopping by to meet these pretty ladies. I am currently working on an article about dolls and toys of the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. More upcoming topics are progress on Mary Morgan’s new blue dress, views of some antique doll dresses, naming our dolls, and a very special Bye-Lo Baby with her story.


Now that you have met My lowbrow lovelies, please veiw my more recent post on Heirloom Hertwigs for more information on Hertwig china dolls and the factory that made them.


11 thoughts on “Beautiful Low Brow and Pet Name Chinas

  1. Thank you for providing so much detail about these dolls. I inherited a Dorothy porcelain doll from my mother, and have been trying to find out more about it. She looks almost identical to your Dorothy, same coloring and collar with bow in front, with “patent appd for” stamped on the back plate.

    • Hello Victoria,
      I value your comment and your gratitude for this article. I am glad that your mother’s Dorothy doll came to you, and that you appreciate your china doll enough to learn more about her history.


    • I’m sorry, Kathy, none of my dolls are for sale at this time. However, eBay often has listings for dolls like Fiona. She is one of the more commonly found low brow types, and these are still reasonably priced.


  2. I have a hertwig doll name edith that belonged to my greataunt 1905 year. It has a porcelain or bisque head with cloth body and original clothing and leather shoes.please let me know if you have any information or website thanks so much

    • Hello Kelly,
      For more information:

      * Read this blog post, Beautiful Lowbrow and Pet Name Chinas, including the info on reference books

      * Read my posts under the China Dolls category in the right scroll bar for more info on china shoulder-head dolls

      * Read my page about The History of China Dolls, including the For More Information section with info on reference books, by clicking the link in the left scroll bar

      * Google “Hertwig Porcelain Factory” for more information about this doll manufacturer.

      * Check e-Bay and Ruby Lane online with “antique china doll” as the subject to find similar dolls and what their current value is, paying attention to condition, detail of face painting, original body and clothing or not, and size

      Thank you for looking at my blog. Best wishes,

  3. Pingback: Heirloom Hertwigs | quintessential antique dolls


    • Hello Diane,

      Sometimes you can find lowbrow china dolls at antique stores. Ruby Lane and eBay always have lowbrow chinas available. Just go to or and type “antique china doll” into the search bar.


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