Bye-Lo Baby Dolls - Introduction
The Bye-Lo Baby was one of the first truly realistic baby dolls ever sculpted. Creator Grace Storey Putnam was a sculptor (1877-1947) who found herself needing to support a young family in the early 1920s after a divorce. She sculpted the doll from looking at a real three-day-old baby. This may not sound surprising now, but in 1920, when the doll was sculpted, this was revolutionary.
Nearly all dolls ever designed up to that point were highly idealized and stylized versions of real babies. In many ways, I consider the Bye-Lo Baby to be the true forerunner of all the realistic baby dolls on the market today, as well as a direct ancestor to the Reborn baby doll craze.
Materials Used to Make Bye-Lo Babies
Bye-Lo Babies were made with bisque, celluloid and composition heads. The bodies of the Bye-Lo Babies ranged from all-bisque to cloth bodies with celluloid plastic hands (the most common), to all-jointed composition bodies (the rarest and most desirable body for collectors today; these tend to be early examples). The dolls nearly always have painted hair, but not always, especially on the smallest all-bisque models.
Years of Production of Bye-Lo Baby Dolls
The dolls began production in 1922 and were produced until the early 1950s.
Sizes of Bye-Lo Babies
The very tiniest Bye-Lo Babies are only 5 to 6 inches tall and are made of all bisque.
The very largest Bye-Lo Babies can be over 20 inches tall, about the size of a real three-day-old baby.
Companies That Have Produced Bye-Lo Babies
Many famous companies made heads for these dolls, including Kestner, Alt Beck and Gottshalck, and Hertel, Schwab and Co. The dolls were put together and distributed by the American company George Borgfeldt.
Market Report for Bye-Lo Babies
As of 2016, prices for the most common styles of Bye-Lo Baby dolls, sized about 14" on a cloth body with celluloid hands, have remained stagnant in the range of $200 and up. All-bisque models have trended slightly down in price. The highest prices go for mint, all original dolls, and dolls with rarer style bodies and wigged hair. The highest prices seem to be about $600 or so, but much higher for dolls with trousseaus, Fly-Lo Babies and other rare models.
Marks of Bye-Lo Baby Dolls
Although marks vary slightly, the most common marks include, on the body: Copr By//Grace S. Putnam; often the mark also includes "Made in Germany". The smallest all-bisque models are sometimes not marked.