When my daughter was born, my aunt sent her a soft little doll that we named Maya. This sweet faced dolly is colorful, and perfect for cuddling. Käthe Kruse dolls weren’t familiar to me at the time, but now (two more kids and two more dolls later) I know what wonderful toys they make, and how long they last. They survived my kids, and are now tucked safely away for the next generation to love.
So… who is Käthe Kruse, and what makes Käthe Kruse dolls so special?
It started in 1905 when Kaethe Kruse made a doll for her daughter Maria. At the time, all of the dolls available in stores were made from porcelain and were “hard”. Her husband, Max Kruse, found them to be horrible, and told Käthe she could do better herself. They wanted something soft and cuddly for her daughter. The original doll was made from soft fabric and filled with sand…and the head was made from a POTATO. Well, as you might imagine, the sand leaked out after a few days of play… and the potato? Well, it started to go bad. Back to the drawing board.
Photograph of a photograph by user CTHOE. Original photographer not credited, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
For the head ofthe next doll she used a soft towel, and filled it with sand, then sewed it up tight.. Her daughter loved it, and word got out about the mother in Berlin who made dolls. What set her dolls apart were not just the softness, but that they looked like children instead of adults. These were dolls children could relate to.
In 1911, the American toy store FAO Schwarz put in an order for 150 of her dolls! For years, all of her dolls were handmade in her living room… but when the next order for 500 dolls came in 1912, it got to be too much, and the company moved to a factory in Bad Kösen, so she could make more dolls, clothes and accessories. Things went well, and business grew until WWII, when obtaining the needed supplies became difficult.
Although Käthe lost two sons and her husband to the war, she got back to work when it was all over. The Kruse family moved to the West in the 1950’s, and opened a second factory in Donauwörth. The original Bad Kösen factory continued producing dolls in the style of Käthe Kruse for a few more years under the Soviet system, but eventually shut down in the late 60s.
All of the dolls and toys are produced in their own facilities in Germany and Latvia, and are all handmade. Each doll has its own special characteristics, and is made to last through childhood. The materials are tested by independent labs to insure safety. Different toys and dolls are made special for each age group. Baby toys are soft, cuddly, and stimulate the senses. The handmade dolls are made to be loved, and made to last.
The Käthe Kruse Doll Company motto-
“Die Tradition im Herzen, der Zukunft entgegen” – “With the tradition in our hearts, we move to the future”.
“Käthe Kruse holds these principles:
- Authenticity, trust, quality and safety – Käthe Kruse adheres to the founders ideals for products with lasting value
- Age appropriate development – our dolls and toys encourage creativity, foster learning at one’s own pace, and promote cooperative play
- Unique design – Käthe Kruse toy designers innovate and create toy worlds and themes
- Handcraft – All Käthe Kruse products are made with handcrafted details
Social standards and environmental consciousness – Each employee, supplier, and customer is treated with respect, dignity and fairness and we strive to operate in a sustainable eco-efficient way.”
– from the website…Käthe Kruse USA
For a toy that your child will love and cherish for their whole life, you can’t go wrong with a Käthe Kruse!
Käthe Kruse Dolls
Waldorf dolls have cloth faces, the others are a soft plastic.
Order from Germany
Käthe Kruse 0138231 Schatzi Baby Teddy Bear DollKäthe Kruse 0126605 Puppa JuleKäthe Kruse 0126606 Puppa ClaraKäthe Kruse 38026 Waldorf Doll Amelie 38 cm RedKäthe Kruse 0142805 Lucky Child Arianna, WhiteKäthe Kruse Baby Doll Mini Bambina Luis with Soft Body Blue 33 cm
Or from the USA
Kathe Kruse Finger Puppets
Käthe Kruse Doll Company…for Dolls and Toys that Last a Lifetime!