Bru Dolls - An Introduction:
Say "Bru Dolls" to most antique doll collectors, and they will fall immediately into a reverie, either dreaming of their lovely Bru Bebe in their collection, or dreaming of the Bru Bebe doll they hope to own some day. Besides the classic and highly desirable Bru Bebes from 1879-1889, Bru also made fashion dolls starting in 1866 and later, less popular Bebes and a variety of novelty Bebes.
Years of Production of Bru Dolls:
Bru dolls were produced from 1866-1899, by Bru, Jne & Cie, until the company was absorbed into S.F.B.J. (the Societe Francaise de Fabrication de Bebes and Jouets) which absorbed most of the major French makers of dolls when German bisque doll competition became nearly overwhelming.
Company That Produced Bru Dolls:
Bru, Jne & Cie in Paris, France and Monteuil-sous-Bois, France produced Bru dolls.
By far most Bru dolls were made of bisque, although a few dolls in other materials such as rubber (gutta percha) have been found.
Basic Types of Bru Bebe Dolls:
When you mention a Bru doll to a casual antique doll collector, the model that most comes to mind is the Bru Jne model, so called because the mark on the doll reads "Bru Jne." Bru Jnes were made in the 1880s. Other well known Bru dolls include the Bru Brevete (also so called because of the mark) which was only made from 1879-1880, the Circle-Dot Bru (so called because the mark resembles a Circle and a Dot) from 1879-1884 and the later Bru Jne R from 1889-1899.
Novelty Types of Bru Dolls:
Besides the basic model Bebes, Bru made a unique set of novelty dolls including the popular Bebe Teteur (nursing Bru which had a mechanism that would suck liquid from a baby bottle), the Bebe Musique (played music) and the Bebe Gourmand (had a mechanism which allowed children to feed the doll).
Marks on Bru Dolls:
Bru Bebes tend to be well marked; not so for the earlier Bru fashion dolls. The fashion dolls are generally marked with a letter indicating a size number, and nothing else. The Bebes generally have Bru Jne, Bebe Brevete, the circle and dot mark (which is a dot under a half-circle or in a full circle) among their doll marks.
Price Trends on Bru Dolls:
Classic Bru Bebe dolls as well as wood-bodied and smiling Bru fashion ladies continue to have prices increasing. Prices for excellent condition Bru Bebes (except for more common Bru Teteurs and later Bru Jne Rs) can be breathtaking, with prices for choice examples often between $15,000 and $30,000.
More About Bru Dolls:
Even if you are new to antique dolls, it won't take you long before you can immediately identify a Bru Bebe on sight. The features of the doll, with their large, soulful eyes ad full cheeks are legendary. The dolls are also appreciated for their lovely kid-and-bisque bodies and the beautiful original couture Bru clothing (when it can be found). Bru dolls were made in much smaller quantities than their famous French cousins, the Jumeau dolls which is one of the main reasons, besides their beauty and art, that the prices for the dolls are so high.
The French Bru Fashion Dolls are also beautiful and sought after, especially the ones calle "Smilers," with slightly upturned mouths reminiscent of the Mona Lisa. Bru fashion dolls made with wood bodies are also favored by collectors.