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)
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News

31st October 2015

 
New updates added - We have added a new page on the Isle of Wight dolls, which were produced for the Liliput doll Museum, on the Isle of Wight.   These dolls have mystified us for some time, but an opportunity to do some research through the archives, an email from Graham Munday, (owner of the Lilliput Doll Museum), and an email chat with author and Shallowpool Dolls expert sue Brewer, have allowed a partial reconstruction of their fascinating story.   There are still some gaps in our knowledge, so if you can fill in any of the missing details for us, please do get in touch!
 
 

19th September 2015

 
New updates added - Our thanks to correspondent David H, who has sent us two interesting pictures - The first is of a very rare Nisbet First Doll.   This is the doll that started Peggy Nisbet's dollmaking career, and you can read all about her on this page : dolls/special-collectors-sets-limited-and-signature-editions/SCE-P1953 Replica Edition of the First Nisbet Doll.  David's picture of his original first Nisbet is shown below the article on the replica doll, and below that, is shown a unique 18" porcelain doll that also shows the Queen in Coronation robes, and was used in displays and exhibitions.   This doll is also shown in the book, "The Peggy Nisbet Story".  Other updates added today are the BOAC and BEA dolls, Madam Tussaud Dolls, Wax Dolls, and a Porcelain statuette issued as a tribute to Peter Bull, which is shown under Dolls/Porcelain Dolls/Irish Dresden - Tribute to the Late Peter Bull
 
 

12th September 2015

 
New updates added - Apologies to all our visitors for the long delay in adding some updates and new information - we hope that the items listed below will be of interest!   Many kind thanks to numerous correspondents, for their kind offers of pictues and other information, to fill in the gaps in various galleries :  To Barbara T, for her stunning pictures of H/214 - Queen Elizabeth I, wearing a rubber crown.   Pictures appear in Historical Gallery 1, and in "Know your Nisbets/Headgear/Crowns".   Frank T sent two excellent pictures of Vera Evelyn Samuel, and you can see the pictures and read all about her here - "Porcelain Dolls/Doulton Nisbet".   Penny D has sent in some pictures of her magnificent early P/618 - Robbie Burns - See him in Portrait Dolls Gallery 1.   We have used another of Keith P's pictures in a new gallery just added - "Know your Nisbet/Body shape and pose".   Finally, we have added a new page on Walt Disney dolls, which may come as something of a surprise to many collectors, as the dolls are not typically Nisbet in appearance!
 
 

 

3rd January 2015

 

Exciting New updates added for 2015 - Correspondent Michael A contacted us last year to ask about his mother's "Beatles" Nisbet dolls - Collectors of long standing may have heard of this almost legendary set of dolls - Thanks to Michael, you can now learn all about them here : /dolls/the-dolls-that-never-were/the-beatles/   

A recent contact from author Ian Price, who writes for the "Fashion Dolls Quarterly" magazine, (www.fdqmedia.com), enquired about Nisbet's Christmas themed dolls - We were delighted to assist his researches in compiling this article on Peggy Nisbet's "Legends of Christmas" dolls.   Ian has very kindly allowed us to make a copy of this article available for download - Please go to the Downloads/Miscellaneous/ page, and click on the link to "Styling Santa", by Ian Price, to see the article.

 

 

Thank you for stopping by to browse, or for making contact with us - We hope the website will prove to be of use and interest to you!