The Wokingham Paper

Indian dress dolls sold in Wokingham auction to bidder from Germany


YOU can buy a doll from Argos for a tenner, but last month a pair of dolls sold for £1,300 – a considerable jump from their estimate of £30.

The 19th century dolls in Indian dress were one of the star lots in the monthly Martin & Pole antiques auction.

Held at its Milton Road base on Wednesday, April 17, the sale attracted a lot of interest from around the world.

Sold as a pair, the there was a female doll in bisque porcelain dressed in Indian style jewellery, bangles and anklets. While her bearded male partner was made in glazed porcelain with earrings, necklace, bangles and anklets.

They were thought to date from the late 1860s but the family history suggested they belonged to an ancestor who lived in Lucknow, Northern India, in the early 1900s. The profuse costumes meant that any makers mark could not be uncovered, but it was thought by the specialists at Martin & Pole that the heads originated in Germany, and were later applied to the Indian costumes.

Without knowing the maker specifically, and taking into account the unusual costumes, the auction house places an estimate of £30 to £50 on the pair.

They also contacted doll and childhood museums, as well as posting the auction on the internet, which led to an explosion of interest.

The bidding finally stopped at £1,300 with a telephone bid from Germany.

Auctioneer Matthew Coles said in a statement: “We are all very pleased that the potential of these dolls was realised at the auction. It is also gratifying that they will now go to a significant private collection in Germany, where they will continue to be appreciated.”

The company is now preparing for its next auction, to be held on Wednesday, May 15.

One of the lots will be an original drawing by William Heath Robinson of a Lucky Dip number selecting machine.

This will be the first time the drawing has been on the market, as it comes with a letter from The Linen Guild of King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor declaring the drawing to be a prize in the Lucky Draw held in April 1941.

It was won by the vendor’s father and has remained in the family ever since.

It depicts a typical Heath Robinson complicated machine to do a simple job, and the auctioneers estimate the work will fetch between £800 to £1,200.

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