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August, 2007

A Lenci Doll Collector article--for Lenci doll collectors

Photoshop, Forensics and Fairytales

It is always exciting to me to come across a Lenci I have not seen before, especially one of the rarely seen models, such as the very early dolls made by Elena Scavini herself. So other day when I found by chance, a picture on a german language auction web site showing a pair of familiar looking dolls I was curious about them immediately They were described as a pair of Lenci dolls ( Paar "Lenci' -Puppen, in the original language), and were dressed like a Prince and Princess, in clothes of the Middle Ages, I had managed to get hold of some early Lenci's, and there was a resemblance. The Princess doll, although wearing different outfit, I recognized as the same model as another early Lenci lady, which can be seen wearing a flounced dress shawl and bonnet, in one of the first Lenci ads, in Playthings Magazine. The Prince in the photo, although partly hidden by a table had a distinct Lenci look and reminded me of another early Lenci doll, dressed as a page or minstrel.

The Minstrel has an unusual 3 part body construction , a disk that rotates in the midsection, this disk is higher on one side having the effect of posing him in a low, humble bow. A collector friend and expert, Rosita Siccardi, who has access to a rare early Lenci catalog had positively identified the minstrel, he was seen in the original Lenci catalog, with a group of page boys, or minstrels, dressed in the fashion of the Middle Ages. My minstrel was shown holding his original long necked stringed instrument, a type of a lute.

It made sense to me that with pages and minstrels, Lenci would have made a noble couple, such as a lady and a prince of the castle, to be attended to by the pages and minstrels, but there was no prince and princess pair like this in the original Lenci catalog. However I had no doubt about the lady. The face and arm construction of the princess matched my early Lenci lady doll, her companion the prince will need a closer look. They were auctioned as a pair, that was a start, and the orange of the felt on the Lady's sleeve appears to match, but not proof in itself. However the overall impression is that of a pair of early Lenci dolls made before 1923, from the very early years of the Lenci company , when Elena Scavini was designing the dolls and making them herself. ...continued below

Early Lenci characters, Prince and Lady

1. The Prince and his Lady
(derived from the original auction picture -Image 2 below)

2. The original auction house picture, from - Lenci dolls are seen on the left

The image resolution from the auction site is poor when enlarged - I send an email to the auction house, to enquire about a better image- but my German is almost non existent and the original auction was over a year ago,( hopefully the owner of the dolls will see this article and get in touch). Some photoshop forensics might yield more clues. First of all does the height, 45 cm, and pose of the prince match? he is half hidden by a table in the picture , I try pasting in a picture of my minstrel side by side, and scaled to fit, they appear to have the same dimensions. it looks promising, the height, the angle of the hands, the tilt of the head, the construction of the clothing are all positive indicators. a bit more work on the picture and I have a rough reconstruction of the prince, and a new throne for the lady. Next a face match using photos of the heads from a similar angle. Superimposed in Photoshop using transparency (Image 3), the shape of the face, tilt of the shoulders, the position of the pupils, nose and mouth are all a good match. The evidence is convincing.

In the final composite, like the fairytales of old, the Prince and Princess of the castle are joined by their Minstrel, after a sleep of almost 100 years (Image 4 below).
If you are the owner of these or similar early Lenci dolls, please get in touch by email to .
[Lieber Leser, liebe Leserin, wenn Sie der K?ufer oder die K?uferin der Lencipuppen sind, w?rden sie bitte per e-Mail mit mir in Kontakt treten. Da ich selber Lencipuppen sammle und auch ?ber sie recherchiere (wie Sie meiner Homepage entnehmen k?nnen), w?re ich an weiteren Fotos Ihrer Puppen interessiert. Bitte melden Sie sich bei mir unter folgender Adresse: . Vielen Dank im Vorraus f?r Ihre Hilfe! Mit freundlichen Sammlergr??en, Patricia]

3. Face match comparing the prince (L), to an authenticated early Lenci minstrel (R), as we can see, the tilt of the head, the position of eyes, nose and mouth all match up.

Early Lenci dolls: Prince Lady and Minstrel

4. Like the fairytales of old, the Prince, his Princess and their Minstrel, after a sleep of almost 100 years.(Source: derived from the original auction picture above)


  • Mitte 20. Jh. "Burgfräulein und Page". Paar Puppen mit Filzkörpern, gemalten Gesichtern und schwarzen Haaren. Filzkleidung in mittelalterlicher Art. Zusammen 2 Puppen. Länge je 45
  • Early Lenci Minstrel, Private collection
  • Lenci, Torino, early Catalog, collection of Rosita Siccardi
  • Playthings Magazine 1920's
  • Thanks to Claudia Braun for assistance with German translation


Patricia. Hayes, 2007
For The Lenci Doll Collector


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