Antique dolls make a collection full of beauty

By Edie Grossfield

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

When Evidia Cronebusch was 8 years old, her aunt gave her a German-made Heuback Koppelsdorf doll. Though she didn’t know it would someday be a collector’s item, the gift was special to the little girl, who lived with her parents and two brothers on the family farm in Marion, N.D.

Eighty-eight years later, the doll with dark hair and a white dress is in pristine shape. It’s part of Cronebusch’s antique doll collection, which she displayed Thursday for her fellow residents at Madonna Towers in northwest Rochester.

Cronebusch began seriously collecting dolls in 1985. Today, she has about 80, some quite valuable and the oldest dating back to 1830.


Why do you like to collect dolls?

Each one is different, and they’re interesting, especially if you study the country they came from. And I like the clothing, and they’re pretty.

Are you still collecting them?

No, I don’t collect now. I read magazines about them now. There are many doll-collecting magazines, some on the old ones, the in-between ones and the new ones. We had a doll club in town, it was started in 1985 and went until 1995. It was discontinued because all the new dolls were coming in.

Where do most of the older dolls come from?

Most are from Germany and France, shipped before World War II. And then they couldn’t ship them for a while, so people started making them here.

What are they made out of?

On the older ones, the heads are either china or bisque. The newer ones are porcelain. The arms and legs are usually a composite and painted.


Where do you get the clothes for them?

Many of them were made for me by the sisters at Assisi Heights. Because the old clothes wear out.

I noticed you called one of them by a name. Do you have names for all of the dolls?

No. That one just happened to be one that came with a name. Most don’t have names. Some have names because the manufacturer gave them product names.

Where do you keep them?

A few are on display in my home — I have about a half dozen out. The rest are kept in boxes in a long closet.

Do your children or relatives collect dolls?

No. I don’t have children. But my nieces have some of them and they will get them all some day.


Which is your favorite doll?

My French doll. She’s very pretty. She’s a Petite Francaise (reading a display card with the doll) and her name is Liane. Verlingue made it some time between 1914 and 1921.

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