The Nativity Collection
These magnificent dolls were commissioned by the Nisbet company, and designed by Mark Jones, an English artist and sculptor who had worked in Italy. The dolls were hand carved by the skilled craftsmen of the Otco Company, in the mountain village of Ortisei, in the Tyrol region of Northern Italy, and dressed by the skilled craftswomen of the Nisbet factory in the UK.
Otto Comploj, Owner and Company Chairman of Otco, was chosen to produce the dolls, because his company, as one of the foremost producers of religious statues in the Northern Tyrol, were sensitive to the demands and expectations the work would involve.
Otto confirmed that his craftsmen could meet the exacting demands of the Nisbet design, and the heads, hands, and feet of these dolls were carved separately. This allowed the Nisbet team to develop a range of soft bodied dolls with wire armatures hidden inside to support them, allowing them to be fully poseable.
These dolls were never intended as childrens' toys, but rather as tomorrow's heirloom collectibles, for the serious (and well heeled) collector.
Dolls went on sale in 1988, and sold for between £40 and £50 each, with Baby Jesus and his crib costing £20.
We believe that no more than 20 and 40 sets may have been produced, making these prestigious dolls very collectable
Some notes about these dolls :
- This set is not complete - The Baby Jesus shown was purchased at a German Christmas Market - The original figure had his right arm crossed over his chest
- The Shepherd boy has lost his lamb - the one in his basket is a plastic substitute
- The Three Kings were not named in the Bible - They were referred to as The Magi, or Three Wise Men.
- The first of Nisbet's Magi is Melchior, (with the red feather in his turban), who was said to be the King of Arabia. His traditional gift to the infant Jesus was Gold, but this Nisbet doll seems to be carrying Myrrh, a scented oil
- Caspar, the second of the three Magi is shown presenting Gold to Baby Jesus - Traditionally, he would have presented Myrrh, said to have been used to anoint Kings, and embalm the dead; It was also a symbol of suffering
- The third of the Magi was Balthazar, King of Ethiopia, whose gift was Frankincense, a tree resin burned as incense, a perfume suitable for a King, and a symbol of Priesthood and prayer
Feb 15 2014 update :
Thanks to our good friend Alice J for suppluing a picture of the genuine Nisbet carved wooden Baby Jesus - Ours, though attractive, is a plastic model purchased from a German Christmas Market. We had discussed the very small size of the lamb that the Shepherd is carrying - Alice's lamb is nearly identical in size with ours, so we must conclude that both may be the genuine Nisbet article - Or perhaps someone out there knows better! If you do, please get in touch!
The doll pictures will auto run as a slide show in the window above.
Press F5 (function key 5 on your keyboard), to re-start the slide show.
Alternatively, you may control the slideshow manually – follow the steps below :
- Place the cursor at the bottom of the window to access thumbnail and navigation control bar
- Click on the “?” (question mark) symbol (bottom left hand side of the control bar) for a detailed explanation of the controls
- See a full screen slideshow by clicking on the “Square with Arrow” symbol (2nd from right on the control bar)
- Use the keyboard arrow keys to move forward and back through the slideshow, as desired
- Use the “ESC” key to leave full screen mode