Flower Child: Restoring a Small Hertwig Print-Body China Doll


I recently purchased a small Hertwig china doll who is inferior in her china head, face painting, and bisque limbs. Yet I like her because she is a doll made with an intriguing  print body.  Print bodies for Hertwig dolls were available possibly from about 1895, and definitely from Butler Brothers distributor from 1905 to 1907.  Many print body dolls are made in alphabet or flag print on the nanking (cotton) body. They brought a new twist to the old china dolls who were going out of favor by this time. The print bodies were considered to be educational for children. They are not easy to find in today’s market.

Hertwig ABC body Photo from Pinterest

Here is an alphabet print body. (Image from Pinterest)

Hertwig numbers print

This doll with a numbers print body is larger than the one above and has a more detailed hairstyle and face painting. (Image from worthpoint.com.)

Hertwig Kate Greenaway print body Photo from worthpoint.com

The nanking body of this doll has an intriguing Kate Greenaway print. (Image from worthpoint.com.)

I purchased this doll because I had been searching for a print body doll, and I was captivated by the lovely floral print which I had not seen before. The pansies got me! I knew that the doll had some issues with her cloth body, and that she was leaking sawdust. She arrived with one hole covered with tape, and  another hole that I didn’t know about upon purchase. I did not handle her until now, as I made the repairs.


The patch on her right leg is complete, while the left one is in progress. You can see that the china part of this leg is almost torn free. Also evident is the excelsior (sawdust) leaking out as I work on her.

Repair work on this doll was delicate because the cloth is brittle. She had obviously not been living in optimal conditions these many years. I had to take care in placing stitches so as not to break the fibers further.


Rose, Carnation,  and Violet are shown on her front, along with a peek of daisy, and the meandering vine.


Pansies are evident on the backside, with a hint of forget-me-not. Poppy shows only a small bit under her arm.

This floral print body would be considered as educational because the flower names are printed with the flowers. They include rose, violet, carnation, forget-me-not, sunflower, pansy, poppy, and daisy.

While I didn’t like having to cover part of this doll’s endearing body with patches, she is much better off now that her body is stable. At nine inches tall, she will remain “au naturel” without clothing to show off her fine print. What a sweetie to behold!


The repairs are complete, and the cloth body stabilized.

Antique photo girl with star collar china and carriage

This girl poses with what appears to be a large Hertwig “lowbrow” doll in her carriage in the late 19th century.