Collecting: Spanish Felt Lacemakers

These two figures are by the most famous of the felt doll makers, Klumpe. Note the inverted ‘V’ shaped eybrows, typical of Klumpe figures. The maker’s tag on any of the molded felt lacemaker figures rarely survives.  An exception is the square Klumpe sticker just visible at the right side of the bottom of the skirt in the first figure. Both are ~11″ tall. The costumes probably represent Valencia.

In Spain, my nomination for the best lacemaking figures goes hands down to the felt lacemakers. Molded felt character dolls were developed in Barcelona for the tourist trade starting in 1952, with high quality products produced through the 1960’s. Some of lesser quality were made in the early ’70s. Figures for many characters were made, and the lacemaker is fairly rare. Most are less than 12 inches high, with painted features and a floss or mohair wig. Each of the thirteen Barcelona firms producing these dolls had very distinctive designs, and doll collectors have only recently recognized the value of these pieces.  Although most of the figures seen today are of small size and formally posed, there are variations. I remember once seeing a  felt lacemaker at auction of a very large size, quite soft, meant as a little girl’s toy.

The lacemaker is dressed in a very detailed costume, representing various Spanish provinces. Much detailed work has gone into making the shoes, net for gloves and hair, and the jewelery. Although several seem to be dancing, the opinion of contacts in Spain is that they are simply interesting poses incorporating a lace pillow. No one has been able to discover a traditional Spanish lacemaker’s dance. The lacemaker seems to owe something in the pose to the Flamenco dancer figure, which is much easier to find.

Another well known Barcelona company is Roldan, and a probable lacemaker example is shown below. Roldan is known for quite dynamic posing of their figures, along with elaborate accessories.

This figure lacks a tag, but the small, pouty mouth is a distinguishing mark of Roldan work. She is ~9″ high, and has quite an attitude. Unfortunately moths got at her pillow at some point and the dress is a bit wrinkled. This is a rare figure. The costume is probably Catalonian.

It is easier to find figures from the Lanya company – two examples are shown below. They have red pillows, and a an alternating striped red and yellow sash, which is the pattern of the Catalonian flag.

Figures probably by Layna. They are of small size, and not quite the quality of the Klump/Roldan figures. Catalonian costumes.

Unfortunately, many fine figures are unidentified. Even more unfortunately, doll collectors themselves don’t know much about this kind of figure – hopefully research will be done in the near future. At the moment, many sellers lump the entire category of these dolls under the composite name “Klumpe/Roldan”.

Two figures by unknown makers, similar to but not exactly the same as the Layna figures above. The righthand figure is nicely balanced and stands by itself. Again, the red and yellow sash represents Catalonia.

Three excellent figures, makers unknown. The costume of the figure on the left could be from the Zamora province.  The costume of the middle figure has yet to be identified. The righthand costume probably represents Valencia.

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4 Responses to Collecting: Spanish Felt Lacemakers

  1. AAGlez says:

    As a Spanish lacer, I find your article really interesting. I have seen these kind of dolls when I was a child and have never payed much attention to them, as they were more a touristic thing. But now I see that they show us something which was typical in a time. The dolls are dressed in regional costumes of different regions of Spain.
    My congratulations for your web, which is so interesting.
    Antje, from Spain.

    • Marce Bassett says:

      Antje, I just found this wonderful website of and found your post replying to “collecting: Spanish Felt Lacemakers”. I really enjoy your post with your experiences as a lace maker yourself. I am a collector of the Spanish dolls made in Spain after the war as well as old lace. I hope you have the time and desire to do your own website to share your experiences. If you do please let me know as i would love to see it.

      Also Is it possible that you might know a way to find out and locate past history in Spain to do further research on the history of the Spain doll makers like Roldan and Klumpe, etc. Are their any doll museums regarding that.

      I know you may never actually get this post as you originally posted in 1910. But I am just taking a chance you might see this and it would be convenient for you to reply to me.

      Marce Bassett
      Seattle, Washington, USA

  2. lacenews says:

    I have received several very useful comments on this piece from lace makers and collectors in Spain (my deepest thanks to Carolina de la Guardia and Antje Gonzalez). And, I’ve just returned from a week in Spain where I had a wonderful opportunity to visit with Carolina. So I am making some corrections to the piece as follows:
    1. I am very embarrassed to mistake the flag of Catalonia for the flag of Spain! My deepest apologies.
    2. No one knows of a dance done with a lacemaking pillow, everyone is of the opinion that these are simply interesting poses incorporating the pillows.
    3. At least two (maybe more) costumes from different regions of Spain are depicted; Catalonia and Valencia. It seems that the gloves, shoes and hairnet are typical of both regions. Opinion at the moment is that the ones with out the flag banners and with larger flowers in the skirts are Valencian costumes.
    I will correct the main article accordingly.

  3. ruth mast says:

    Several years ago I had a “set” of Klump(f)e figures; very bendable, very intricate costume, with wonderful expressive features. The set consisted of several occupations or avocations; an artist among them. I sold this damaged moldy set. Not long ago I found a fisherman, half reclined, with gray felt fish on a line! Alas, I tried to find him and he was gone. . .purchased! The figures I had were tagged, at least one. I find them facinating, beautifully done. Still hoping to find the fisherman for my son.

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