or: How to distinguish antique from modern dolls’ eyes

So, antique dolls’ eyes.

The production of blown glass eyes for dolls was recorded after about 1830. And it is believed that at first blown eyes were used for dolls, and later for people who lost their eyes.
The manufacturing technology of glass-blown eyes involves several stages:
1) creating an iris – a colored element with a pupil,
2) blowing a ball out of a glass tube,
3) connection of the ball with the iris.

Handcrafted glass eye

Before jumping straight into observations, let’s define some terms:

We will call antique glass doll eyes made around 1930.

The sclera is the white part of the eye.
The iris is the colored part of the eye.
The pupil is a black dot in the center of the iris.
The stroma is stripes and spirals in the iris.
The limbo is a colored ring around the iris.

1. The eyes are not completely ball-shaped, they have a “tail”.

The tail of the eye has either an uneven edge or a melted one.

2. The elongated shape of the modern eye.

Usually, the eyes were round, and elongated were rare.

3. Snow-white tone and barely perceptible white-blue indicate the modernity of the eye.

The large eye is antique, while the small ones are modern and have a thick white color. The white glass of the sclera of an antique eye always has a tint (gray in general).

Eyes circa the 1920s. The gray band around the iris is approximately 1 mm and has a clear outline.
Eyes before 1910. The gray stripe is thin and is at a distance from the iris.
Here the bezel is wide (2.5 mm) and fuzzy.
Crystal eyes “with a drop”. Incredible beauty.

4. The surface of the eyes has chips and scratches (natural wear and tear, chips and scratches can be very small).

5. The location of the pupil.

Crystal eyes with a “drop” (this is the convex part of the iris, it is very difficult to put such eyes on a doll). It is seen that the pupil is recessed, lying on the lower part of the iris.
Antique glass eyes with a pupil on top of the iris. When you see such eye, you may want to scratch the pupil off, the illusion that it is drawn on top of the eye. But it’s not.
Within these modern eyes, the pupil seems to soar – it is in the middle between the bottom and top of the iris. This can be seen from the shadow falling to the pupil’s bottom.

6. The pattern of the iris – the stroma – is different within the pair.

The pattern of the stroma of the right and left eyes differ.
Eyes circa 1920. The difference in the stroma pattern is visible.

7. The color of the iris.

The color of the iris can be blue (different intensities of gray, blue, gray-blue, blue, dark blue, and cobalt) and brown (different shades of tea, hazel, brown, dark brown, etc.) Green, yellow and purple eyes are not found in antique dolls.

Blue crystal eye with white stroma and blue limbus.
Gray eyes with thick white stroma, dark gray limbus, and “lower” pupil.
Blue eyes with thick white stroma, blue limbus, and “upper” pupil.
A blue glass eye with a thin white stroma, a blue limbus, and an upper pupil. Eye circa the 1920s.
Dark blue glassy eyes with a very thin, barely visible white stroma, blue limbus, and “upper pupil”. Eyes circa 1910 – the 1920s.
Dark brown eyes with dense dark brown stroma, dark brown limbus, and “upper” pupil.
Cobalt eyes with white stroma, blue limbus, and “upper” pupil.
Brown eyes with thin dark brown stroma, dark brown limbus, and “lower” pupil.

8. Color and line of the stroma. In general, the stroma in blue eyes is white, in brown eyes, it is dark brown.

Lines can be thick and thin, radial and curved, thick and sparse, loop-like and wavy. In short, all different kinds exist!

The stroma of dense thin curved white lines.
 Stroma of dense, thick, slightly distorted white lines. It looks special on small eyes. Such eyes are found on late and budget dolls.
The stroma of very dense thin loop-like white lines. Eyes circa the 1900s.
Eyes without stroma can be found in German antique dolls.
For example, the late souvenir doll made by Heubach Köppelsdorf.


Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

Leave a Reply