|German Bisque Doll|
These dolls had pretty faces but the cloth bodies were not very realistic. In the early 1850's, doll makers in Sonneberg, Germany mixed glue and sawdust to form moldable, paintable dolls. They called this new concoction "composition". The first composition dolls typically had a cloth torso and upper limbs with composition heads, hands and feet. Eventually, entire dolls were made of composition resulting in much more realistic forms. Soon, doll makers all used composition; it was inexpensive, easy to work with and it was more durable than bisque, which cracked easily. Composition dolls survive today and can be easily identified by their crazing. In the 1940's, composition gave way to plastic.
To help you identify genuine antique dolls, here are some of the marks you may see on these dolls. This page is a great resource for researching marks: Identifying Antique Doll Marks
We also have a Pinterest board for antique dolls. There are some pins with links to articles if you're interested.