I got my first dolls in about 1958 when my mother bought several during a stopover in Barcelona. They were small dolls only about 8" tall. One was a flamenco dancer in a red and white dress and the other a peasant girl in a flowered dress. I didn't pay much attention to them until I moved into a studio apartment in the 1980's and had them on a built-in shelf. Their humor and personality just made me happy every time I looked at them.
Unhappily, they were destroyed when the house I was living in burned down in the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm. About a month after, I went to a doll show. I realized as I came through the doors in the hall, that I wasn't going to be able to replace my dolls. After all, even if I could find them, they wouldn't be mine, not the Madame Alex that my mother gave me or the one I got for my birthday in a certain year.
As I walked around the show, I looked at all the dolls and tried to decide what to look for - or even if I wanted to give up the whole idea. Instead seeing a couple of Roldans, I remembered how much pleasure the two little dolls had given me. Why not collect those? So...I did.
And tried to learn about them. I talked to dealers and other collectors but there isn't a whole lot out there about them. The most common are Klumpes and Roldans. Klumpes came first and tend to be bigger. They are usually in Spanish costume. Roldans were next and it is thought an artist went from Klumpe to Roldan which could explain the similarities between them. Roldans are also shown in Spanish costume but also as city folk. There is everything from nuns to travelers to professors.
This girl is a Roldan. Her face is thin with very pronounced cheek bones. She has small eyes and arching eyebrows but if you compare her face to a Klumpe, you can see the difference.
All three types are both male and females.
The ballerina above is a Klumpe and immediately you can see the different face. First of all, it is bigger and less sculpted. She has a snub nose and bigger eyes with very swoopy brows. The mouths on the Klumpe and the Roldan are quite similar.
By the way, did I mention they rarely have tags.
Finally, here's a Nistis. Big head, very round eyes and mouth, real small nose and V-shaped brows. I would have thought this was a Klumpe but a collector sent me a picture of the same doll in almost pristine shape - with a Nistis tag.
Laynas were very different. See the example above. They are always female and although they are cloth on wire, their heads and necks are not as organic as the other three. The neck is wrapped thread and the head sits on it as though it is not really connected to the body. The whole doll including the costume are not as well done as Klumpe et al although like those dolls, they have a lot of charm. The Laynas seem to be divided between peasant costume and dancers including ballerinas and show girls. They remind me of the dolls made in the '20's and 30's as free gifts in nightclubs.
Another wonder aspect of these dolls is the way their bodies are posed. Some are in dance position or in mid-stride. This is part of why they are so fun. You just never know what - or who - you'll find next.