Purchasing Composition Dolls ~ Online & in the Wild
Composition Dolls were made of sawdust mixed with a staying agent like starch or sugar water and placed in a mold until hardened. The two halves were then sealed together with glue. Spackle was used on the sides of the heads to "smooth" out the cracks. The parts were then dipped in paint, sometimes in a base coat first and sometimes several times. After they dried, the features were hand painted. This media is probably one of the most unstable media there is. Wood contracts and expands with the climate and the paint can only lasts so long. Consequently, depending on the environment of the doll, the condition can deteriorate rather quickly.
Is it REALLY Composition?
Not knowing what Composition is, many sellers say a doll is composition when it is not. Some even say it is "composite" although I have never been able to figure out what that is. If in doubt, look at the face paint. Usually, the plastic faces have a more "perfect" look. The eyebrows are more similar and are "raised".
Light crazing, deep crazing, pealing, basket case. Best to see the doll up close and personal. Be sure to check for the development of bubbles on the inside corners of the eyes by the bridge of the nose, around the nostrils, and sometimes around the mouth. The seams of the head/neck sometimes tend to crack and peel because of the spackling underneath.
Purchasing Online - Pictures
Ask to see the doll naked. Dolls are sometimes put together with incorrect parts which are hidden under clothing. Good clear close pictures showing the face, hands and feet are the key to a good purchase.
I sincerely hope this information is of some assistance to those of you out there who are crazy about composition dolls.