Apr 17 2014

An Enduring Legacy

In 2008, Annette Himstedt closed her manufactory after 23 years of creating the world’s finest dolls. In her words, “I have spent nearly a quarter of a century in my manufactory and worked there with passion, much discipline and a lot of idealism.” But with the closing of her manufactory, the love and passion of Himstedt collectors worldwide has not faded. Here are a few highlights from her porcelain editions through the years.

Bastian Artist's Proof 1 of 1

Bastian is tuly a milestone in the world of dollmaking.


Looking back at Annette’s dollmaking career is like getting a glimpse of a piece of doll history. Bastian is a porcelain Artist’s Proof from 1985 and served as a blueprint for Annette’s very first vinyl collection called Barefoot Children created in 1986. Looking at the sculpting prowess, one could instantly see the promise that lied ahead for this amazing artist. She would look back on these dolls and say “These are the porcelain originals that were the blueprints for my first ever vinyl collection: the Barefoot Children. These dolls have written history.”

Striving for her creations to reach a level of perfection previously unseen in the doll world, Annette used only the finest materials. Annette Himstedt created her first dolls with porcelain and it remained her material of choice throughout her career. She always said that porcelain enabled her to achieve the nuances of realism that captured the character and personalities of her subjects. She also valued the permanence of porcelain as it would hold its color and remain true, possibly for centuries. In addition to the porcelain, other features, like real hair wigs and one-of-a-kind, hand-blown glass eyes were used in creating this amazing doll that would serve as a glimpse of her future greatness.


Jerina by Annette Himstedt

A beautiful porcelain beauty from Annette's 1996 collection

In 1996 as Annete had tended throughout her career, she created a series of doll from different nationalities and ethnicities. Jerina was a beautiful Hungarian girl measuring 21 inches. She has a wig made of real hair and one-of-a-kind, hand-blown glass eyes. Annette has even hand-painted a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose. Her outfit, which was handmade by Annette is made of hand-dyed silks. She even includes a handmade porcelain bench and a copper name plate.

Jerina is a truly stunning edition featuring new jointing and more advancements that Annette had learned through her years of doll creation. This being one of Annette’s artist proofs, it holds a special significance as Annette reflected back on her dollmaking career. Speaking of her porcelain artist proofs she said “When I last saw all my porcelain children and held them in my hands, it became very clear to me that they possess an unbelievable charm. I got very emotional in the process.”

Moving on to 2001, Annette created an incredible trio of porcelain princesses named Sonne, Mond, and Stern, which is German for Sun, Moon and Star. Stern is a stunning 23.625 inches tall and made of porcelain. She has a hand-painted face, features mouth-blown glass eyes and a real hair wig complete with a porcelain star crown and a lovely veil.

Star Stern by Annette Himstedt

Stern is an amazing work of art from head to toe


Stern’s outfit is truly a treasure. The dress is made of hand-dyed metallic silk fabric that is composed of 80 percent metal. This gives the dress an amazing shimmering quality that mimics the twinkling of stars in the night sky.

The doll and outfit as a whole combine to create the perfect representation of the theme that she is meant to reflect. Annette discussed the symbolism and meaning behind this incredible edition, “What a wonderful theme this was to carry on for me to let my imagination run free. I played with symbolism, colors and fabrics. I’m happy about how much Sun, Moon and Star remind me of what I wanted them to represent. You don’t just have to look at their crowns to see who they are.”

This amazing edition truly blurs the line between doll and art. And being an artist proof just adds to the glamour of this incredible achievement in dollmaking.

Nov 12 2013

Dolls Inspiration From Around The World – Annette Himstedt

Afrika Girl Artist's Proof 1 of 1

Afrika Girl is a beautiful porcelain doll from 1992

Throughout her career, Annette Himstedt has always shown her love of ethnic children with her dolls. She has created dolls that represent children from all over the world. Some of her earliest dolls, the acclaimed Barefoot Children series, were originally planned to be used to raise money for UNICEF. For her porcelain dolls, Annette used multiple firings to achieve the skin tones and make sure they were just perfect.

A beautiful example of Annette’s amazing ethnic dolls is Afrika Girl from 1992. No detail was overlooked. The skin tone is absolutely perfect. Annette described the work that went into getting Afrika Girl’s skin tone just right. “To get the coloring right was unbelievably difficult – with every trial the brown paint wouldn’t come out the way I wanted it to. I mixed pigments and painted like a lunatic.” – Annette Himstedt

Afrika Girl features mouth-blown glass eyes and the beadwork for her outfit was handmade by Annette from colored rocailles. This particular edition even comes with its own porcelain base allowing her to stand easily.  When taken in as a whole, this striking edition truly blurs the line between doll and fine art.


Shilin by Annette Himstedt

Shilin was an edition from Annette's 2007 Sommer Kinder collection

In addition to Annette’s porcelain Masterpiece editions, she has created a number of ethnic dolls for her Puppen Kinder collections over the years. Shilin was part of the 2007 Sommer Kinder Collection. She is an exquisite doll of Asian decent featuring a real hair black wig and hand painted features. Her outfit was a designed b Annette herself and hand-dyed in soft pastel colors that were the motif of that collection.

Mohan Artist's Proof 2 of 2

Mohan is a young boy from India created in 1993

Annette always did wonderful dolls of Asian heritage. Dating as far back as Makimura in 1988 Annette has exhibited a love for dolls of Asian descent. In 1993 she created Mohan and Mohini. Again, Annette worked diligently to replicate the flesh tones, this time those of children from India. Annette said this about her experience with Mohan and Mohini – “Mohan and Mohini are a beautiful couple. Modeling ethnic dolls gives me the greatest pleasure and it always seems to be a very easy process to me. They never cause me any trouble and they’ve always stayed fondly in my heart. “

For Mohan’s attire, Annette created a a rich outfit from hand-dyed silks. He has a large, elegant, amber bead as the centerpiece of his leather necklace.

Jantje Artist's Proof 2 of 2

Jantje is a lovely African-American porcelain doll from 1999

Annette modeled her 1999 porcelain edition Jantje from a little girl from America. She considered the dolls  she was creating as 3 dimensional portraits. She felt that porcelain enabled her to capture the nuances of realism that came through in a child’s face.  Jantje features a gorgeous wig made of real hair that is decorated with handmade porcelain flowers. These delilcate editions were a labor of love. Annette described the trials of producing these complex editions as toy fairs quickly approached in 1999. “I had to work days and nights to get them done for the shows. It was as though they were jinxed. They kept shattering in the kiln and the toy fairs were creeping closer and closer. It was such an agonizing wait every time, because with each trial we’d only get the results after at least 26 hours. That’s how long one firing process took. I can’t count the times when we ran the huge kiln nearly empty, just to be able to finish individual pieces. Once we fired it up for just a hand-full of tiny blossoms. Anyone would have declared us insane… But I didn’t have a choice – I had to get everything finished on time.”

Annette closed her manufactory in 2008. She gathered all of her Artist’s Proofs to be sent to the U.S. to be made available to collectors. Understandably, it was a very poignant time. “When I last saw all my porcelain children and held them in my hands, it became very clear to me that they possess an unbelievable charm. I got very emotional in the process. It is my wish that you, dear collector, have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy these special dolls. “  – Annette Himstedt


Sep 24 2013

A Very Special Little Girl


A favorite of collectors from Annette's 2008 Sommer Kinder Collection

Over the years, Annette Himsted has created an amazing number of unforgettable dolls. In 2008, Annette closed her manufactory, ending an unparalleled 23-year creative era. In one of her final collections before retiring, Annette created what has become a modern classic and a favorite of collections. Ajescha

This edition is an incredible example of all the work and innovation that goes into a Himstedt doll. She is 36 5/8 inches tall and fully jointed at the head, upper arms, elbows and knees. She has an exclusive body and limbs, solely used for her and another 2008 Sommer Kinder,  Sini. Her long, luscious wig is made of real hair and is semi-hand knotted and meticulously styled. She features mouth-blown glass eyes, made in Germany, an exclusive Himstedt design.

Ajescha’s outfit is an exclusive Himstedt design and dyed in Annette’s exclusive Himstedt colors. To complement her outfit, Annette has chosen hand-dyed and hand-knitted cherry-red socklets and matching shoes.

When you combine these features with a head sculpt that was created by one of the all time great doll artists at her creative and sculptural peak, you get one of the most incredible vinyl dolls ever created. Ajescha was produced in a very limited edition size of 377, adding to her desirability.


Aug 5 2013

A Collection Of Masterpieces

Himstedt Porcelain Catalog

A wonderful collection of Annette's porcelain Artist's Proofs spanning her entire career

Beginning with her porcelain Unicef dolls and continuing though her 2005 Porcelain editions, Annette Himstedt’s porcelain dolls have been treasured by collectors worldwide. This amazing catalog is 118 pages and loaded with amazing photos that beautifully show off these breathtaking Artist’s Proofs.

This catalog features 126 of Annette’s Artist’s Proofs. These dolls were the very first from each series, handmade by Annette herself, and they truly reflect her vision as an artist. Viewing the book is like traveling through time as you see Annette develop as an artist and grow with each passing series. There dolls are true masterpieces, even the accessories are fantastic.

The book includes quotes and insight from Annette regarding the challenges and triumphs from each year. This particular quote is regarding her 1999 Collection as Toy Fair rapidly approached…“I can’t count the time we ran the huge kiln nearly empty just to be able to finish individual pieces. Once we fired it up for a handful of tiny blossoms. Anyone would have delared us insane… But I didn’t have a choice – I had to get everything finished on time.”

Sali Artist Proof 2 of 2

Sali Artist Proof 2 of 2 from 1996

Featured on the cover (seen above) is Undine, Annette’s porcelain mermaid. The book features an informative recollection from Annette on how the production of this incredible piece took place. The porcelain water spirit is 5’7 from head to tail and took 14 months to complete.

There is also a letter from Annette where she speaks of sending all of her Porcelain Artist’s Proofs to the U.S. to be offered to collectors. “When I last saw all my porcelain children and held them in my hands, it became very clear to me that they possess an unbelievable charm. I got very emotional in the process. It is my wish that you, dear collector, have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy these special dolls.”

The fabulous photography beautifully shows each doll and there are also an abundance of close-up shots that highlight the incredible detail and sculpting involved with these editions. If you are an Anette Himtedt enthusiast, or an enthusiast of fine works of art, this catalog/retrospective will surely delight you.

Aug 29 2011

Best Place To Buy An Annette Himstedt Doll

Doll collectors around the world have been buying Annette Himstedt dolls for almost 25 years. Now that Annette no longer makes new collections of her Kinder Puppen dolls, where is the best place to buy your next Himstedt doll? The Toy Shoppe of Richmond, Virginia is a favorite choice among doll collectors and here are ten good reasons why:

  1. Longevity – The Toy Shoppe has been in business in Richmond, Virginia since 1975.
  2. History With Annette – Danny and Barrie, the owners, were the first to bring Annette Himstedt porcelain dolls to the USA.
  3. Selection – Even when dolls were being allocated to stores, The Toy Shoppe had a great selection available. The Toy Shoppe is still offering new Himstedt dolls! When Annette closed her manufactory in Paderborn Germany, she sent many of the dolls that were at the manufactory to The Toy Shoppe. In fact, many of The Toy Shoppe’s Annette Himstedt dolls are still new in box!
  4. Beautiful catalogs – No one creates the beautiful catalogs that The Toy Shoppe does. A great reference or just wonderful to look at and enjoy!
  5. Artist’s ProofsAnnette Himstedt’s Artists Proofs are represented solely by The Toy Shoppe. This is the only place you can get one of these remarkable dolls by Annette Himstedt. You can learn more about what makes an Artist’s Proof special by clicking here.
  6. Respected – Danny and Barrie have been selling fine artists dolls for over three decades. They are often quoted in magazines like Doll Reader and DOLLS. They are also the only retailer to have ever won the Lifetime Achievement Award from Jones Publishing. Every other winner has been an artist or manufacturer. Other recipients include R. John Wright, Steiff, Madame Alexander and Helen Kish – each a  giant in the doll or Teddy bear world. This is a very prestigious group to be associated with!
  7. Friendly Staff – The Toy Shoppe staff is both friendly and knows a lot about an Annette Himstedt doll. You can call them toll free at 1 800 447-7995 and they’ll be happy give you the personal attention you need to choose the perfect Himstedt doll for you.
  8. Doll Gallery – The Toy Shoppe has been located in the very same store in Richmond, Virginia for over three decades. It is easy to get to off of the major highways when traveling through Virginia. Every Himstedt collector should stop and see their many Annette Himstedt dolls on display. No one has a better display of Annette Himstedt dolls than The Toy Shoppe!
  9. Website – There is no other web site with the selection of beautiful Annette Himstedt dolls on display as www.TheToyShoppe.com. Lots of beautiful pictures – many they take themselves of the actual doll!
  10. Flexible, AMC Payment Plan – Annette Himstedt dolls are amazing and are priced accordingly. The Toy Shoppe offers interest-free, monthly payment plans that can be customized to suit you. Now everyone can afford there very own Himstedt doll!

With all this going for them, there isn’t any doubt that The Toy Shoppe is the best place to buy your Annette Himstedt doll.

Aug 23 2011

How Annette Himstedt Created A New Realism Movement In Doll Making

German doll srtist Annette Himstedt is the latest in a distinct group of doll artists who defined their era. Over the past 200 years, new materials have been introduced that vastly changed the look and feel and possibilities available in doll making. Modern materials such as porcelain, vinyl, composition and resin had great affect on how we interact with dolls. These mediums affect a doll’s longevity and appearance. The materials also constrain or release an artist’s creativity through their very nature and physical properties. And yet over that same 200 years, there have been very few artistic Movements in doll making or innovative doll artists with the influence of Bru or Jumeau or the Munich Art Dolls of the early 1900s. There has been little “revolution” in dollmaking styles over that time. So when one came along, it was very contagious. This modern day doll revolution was begun by Annette Himstedt in the 1980s.

Before Annette, dolls were classic, simple and straightforward like those of Kathe Kruse. Renowned Swiss artist and dollmaker Sasha Morgenthaler designed her dolls with inexpressive, open looks that allowed them to be more adaptable to imaginative play than if they were forever smiling. Their differences were subtle and these dolls continue to be beloved around the world.

Annette took a different approach and broke many accepted conventions in dollmaking. As explained by Danny and Barrie Shapiro of The Toy Shoppe who first brought her dolls to the USA in 1986:

With her Barefoot Children in 1986, Annette Himstedt established a bold new direction for doll making. Gone was any mannequin-like structure: her dolls were like children at play with bent arms and fingers sculpted in relaxed, natural positions. Annette captured movement in her sculpts with her innovative natural posing. The large scale of her dolls was unique and very engaging. And their shoes, usually an integral part of a doll, were completely gone!

Annette Himstedt Barrie Danny New York Toy Fair

Annette Himstedt with Barrie and Danny at the New York Toy Fair in 2006

Perhaps it was her beginnings in portrait dolls that made Annette so in tune with that essence of childhood in which we all delight. Perhaps her background in fashion moved her to capture mood and expression in her dolls. Whatever the reason behind her drive, she was determined to bring her own artistic doll visions to life and did with amazing success. Her dolls were alive and both collectors and artists were drawn to them. Danny and Barrie of The Toy Shoppe expound:

This dramatic change sparked a renewed interest in dolls and Annette has presented fresh and exciting creations for over two decades! When history reflects on this time, it will surely credit Annette for inspiring artists to new and remarkable levels of creativity in the Realistic Doll Movement of the twentieth century.

In 2008, Annette closed her manufactory in Paderborn, Germany, and an era in contemporary dollmaking came to a sad close. She entrusted her good friends Danny and Barrie to represent her substantial personal collection ans well as the porcelain and vinyl artist proofs which she had accumulated over two decades of dollmaking. You can buy many of Annette Himstedt Puppen Kinder, Kinder aus Porzellan and Artist’s Proofs at The Toy Shoppe.

Aug 22 2011

Prince Namor: 2006 Club Doll by Annette Himstedt

Prince Namor - Annette Himstedt 2006 boy doll

Prince Namor - Annette Himstedt 2006 Club Doll

Over her career, Annette Himstedt create many more girl dolls than boy doll, but the boy dolls were very special in themselves. One was the 2006 Annette Himstedt Club doll, Prince Namor. As part of the Children of Atlantis collection, Prince Namor shared many of the unique characteristics from this underwater theme. His clothing was designed by Annette herself and contained real, hand-painted, golden-iridescent shells in it. According to Annette, over 60,000 shells were painted for the outfits in this collection. His face had the gold accents hand painted on it (collector’s choice). His face and hand are very expressive. Prince Namor has a fully jointed body which means he has jointed upper arms, elbows, and knees. As a Himstedt Club doll, you had to be a member of the club to purchase Prince Namor and one of the benefits of joining was getting a free Kleine doll of one of the Club Dolls either Prince Namor or Princess Mera.

The theme for Annette Himstedt‘s 2006 collection was Children of Atlantis which she took literally to make a collection of doll who lived under the sea! There were a total of 36 dolls in this collection including the Club dolls Prince Namor and Princess Mera. Annette photographed her dolls beautifully together and at play. The centerpiece for the collection was the impending “Pledging Ritual” of Prince Namor and Princess Mera to which all the dolls dressed in their finest outfits and attended.

Prince Namor and Princess Mera in the Pledging Ritual - Annette Himstedt 2006 dolls.jpg

Prince Namor and Princess Mera in the Pledging Ritual with Annette Himstedt's 2006 Children of Atlantis dolls

In Annette’s 2006 Catalog, she wrote a great deal about the storyline for her undersea collection. It obviously took great imagination to depart from her traditional dolls and create something so special. And 36 dolls… that would be a lot for anybody company to make! She wrote this about the mermaids but I think it might have been about herself after the dolls were made:

When all the work was done the mermaids sank exhausted into their shell chairs and looked happily and proudly upon their works of art.

Prince Namor, Lisa Lu and Tikiri -  Dolls by Annette-Himstedt

Prince Namor, Lisa Lu and Tikiri - Part Of The Children Of Atlantis Dolls by Annette-Himstedt

Aug 19 2011

Tawni: A Very Special Artist Doll By Annette Himstedt

Tawni Annette Himstedt Puppen Kinder Doll

Annette Himstedt’s doll Tawni is from the 2005 Children's World Summit Collection

We don’t often think of cultures when they originate in the USA, but Annette Himstedt looked deep into many countries to find inspiration for her dolls. In the United States she found Navaho Native Americans. Her doll Tawni is a beautiful doll that represents this culture.

Tawni stands about 34 inches tall and wears an outfit inspired by the Navaho’s but designed totally by Annette. The colors she chose for the outfit are rich and inviting: dusty purple with accents of deep red and teal. There are also feathers tied into the outfit. On her feet are brown moccasins.

Annette Himstedt dolls are always dressed perfectly, but it is the faces that she sculpts that are truly captivating. Tawni captures your eyes and that face is a delight to look upon. Her hair is set in pigtails tied with ribbons and loose bangs.

Tawni was one of Annette Himstedt’s Puppen Kinder – vinyl play dolls based on children. Tawni is from Annette’s 2005 collection called World’s Children Summit and very popular doll from the series.

You can see more of Tawni at The Toy Shoppe located in Richmond, Virginia. They were the first shoppe to offer Annette’s dolls in the USA in the 1980s and continue to have the best selection of Himstedt dolls. Click here to see them all.

Aug 15 2011

Annette Himstedt: A Cinderella Story

Aschenputtel - Cinderella doll by Annette Himstedt

Aschenputtel - 2003 vinyl doll by Annette Himstedt

For her 2003 vinyl collection,  doll artist Annette Himstedt brought to life a fairy tale of renown. Her two dolls, Aschenputtel and Cinderella, bring to life the classic fairy tale. Aschenputtel is from the version by the German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story is called Aschenputtel after the German name for Cinderella. Annette based her first doll on this story:

A rich gentleman’s wife lay dying, and she called her only daughter, the Cinderella figure, to her bedside. She asked the daughter to remain kind and generous, and God will protect her. She then died and was buried. Within the year, the widower married another woman, who had two beaitiful yet evil daughters. The stepsisters forced the girl to become a kitchen maid, stripping her of her fine clothes and possessions. Despite their cruelty, the girl remained pure in heart, and wept daily by her mother’s grave.

One day, the gentleman visits the city, promising his stepdaughters gifts of luxury. His own daughter merely asks for the first twig to knock his hat off on the way. She plants the twig, waters it with her tears and over the years, it grows into a silver birch tree. In its branches lives a dove, which comforts the girl during her misery.

The king gives a festival for three nights, and each time the girl retreats to the graveyard to ask for help. The dove presents her with gowns of gold and silver, but always leaving before the last strike of midnight. The Prince falls in love with her and threads off one of her golden shoes, but the sisters tried to trick the Prince by cutting off parts of their feet. The doves living on the tree alert the Prince to their treachery, and in the end during Aschenputtel’s wedding the birds fly down and strike the two sisters blind for the rest of their lives.

- source Wikipedia

Annette Himstedt’s Aschenputtel includes a dove (made of clay) as well as a bowl of peas. She is a beautiful doll a little over 36 inches tall. As the working maid for the house, Aschenputtel wears a pink scarf atop her hair and a ragged dress. Aschenputtel shares the same head mold as Cinderella so the transformation from poor scullery maid to princess is almost magical. More about Cinderella to come.

The Toy Shoppe in Richmond, Virginia, still has Aschenputtel by Annette Himstedt for sale. According to their web site, when Annette closed her manufactory, The Toy Shoppe worked with Annette to represent the pieces from her personal collection as well as her Artist’s Proofs. As of this writing, they still have a vinyl edition available as well as  Artist Proof 1/1 of Aschenputel by Annette Himstedt.

Aug 5 2011

Annette Himstedt Timeline

This timeline shows a Annette Himstedt’s career in doll making. This is shown originally on The Toy Shoppe’s website:

  • 1980 Annette begins modeling in porcelain, developing the technical expertise which would later bring her great acclaim within the doll world.
  • 1984 Neighborhood children model for a collection of portrait dolls, bringing magazine publicity and notoriety almost overnight.
  • 1984 During a trip to Africa for UNICEF Annette photographs a young girl named Fatou and sculpts her. This is the catalyst for Annette to create a line of vinyl dolls. Fatou, Lisa and Bekus were her first non-porcelain dolls.
  • 1986 Annette settles on Puppen Kinder (Doll Children) and Kinder Aus Porzellan (Porcelain Children) and registers these names as her trademarks. Danny and Barrie from the Toy Shoppe meet Annette at her booth in the Nuremberg Toy Fair where she introduces her Barefoot Children to instant commercial success.
  • 1988 Annette resolves to build her own doll manufactory in Paderborn, Germany.
  • 1986-2000 Signing tours across America and Europe give Annette the chance to meet many collectors.
  • 1990 Annette and her team move into her new doll manufactory. She finally has the scope to develop new techniques and realize them. As many as 80 people will be employed there at one time.
  • 1996 Himstedt Club founded. Member benefits include Undine, a club magazine chronicling Annette’s work. Club Gift is mini version of annual Club Doll.
  • 2002 Every doll in each collection would be a limited edition from this time forward for more exclusivity.
  • 2005 The first World’s Children Summit featuring dolls of varying ethnicity, from Eastern Europe, to the Caribbean to Africa. Such variety was a refreshing change from the often stereotypical selections produced by other designers.
  • 2007 Open Days begun to allow collectors to see up close every stage of the doll making process and meet the artist.
  • 2008 Annette closes her manufactory, ending an unparalleled 23-year creative era. Demand for her past editions increases as production ends.

Thanks to The Toy Shoppe for allowing us to use their information. You can call them toll free at 1 800 447-7995 if you are interested in Annette Himstedt dolls. Danny and Barrie have had Annette’s dolls since the 1980 and the shoppe offers payment plans that are very easy and convenient (and interest free)!