About us



 A Review

The year 2013 is an anniversary year for us! The German Gildebrief is now in its 30th year! It all began in 1984 on a very small scale, with  the magazine  printed in a small format,  half the size of the current  magazine. (A5). The quality of the black-and-white photos (except for the cover which was always in color) was nothing to write home about. In those days there was no digitalization, and  color printing was prohibitively expensive.

The text for the articles was composed by the printer in columns and delivered in strips. The strips were then cut part and pasted around the desired pictures for the lay-out of a page.


The October/November 1984 edition (see photo) was issue 1 and the Gildebrief has been published, if not always punctually, then at least without a single missing issue since that day!


The original creator of the Gildebrief was Werner Kesting, at that time the owner of the ceramic supply company Tone & Glasuren Töpfereibedarf Kesting KG and from 1980 on also an importer of porcelain doll making supplies from the USA.


To design and publish a magazine is not as easy as one might think and Werner was busy for days, typing and pasting and redoing articles for his new magazine. He had absolutely no experience in the field and was just “learning by doing”: he was a complete autodidact. He started with 117 subscribers and bravely continued on, knowing  the beginning is always hard, and slowly but surely the increasing the number of subscribers.

At the end of 1988, Werner invested a tidy sum of money  in  a new computer system and in February 1989, his Gildebrief was published for the first time in full size A-4, just as it is today. The entire magazine was designed  by Werner and even contained several color photos – a sign that  business was good!


There were a number of German authors who wrote regularly for the magazine and many of our German readers will remember the interesting articles by Traute von Mendelsohn, Christel Kesting and Karin Röckseisen. 


Even Karin Buttigieg’s  articles appeared in the Gildebrief as early as 1989. The articles were from the US doll magazine “Doll Artisan”  which  contributed a number of articles to the Gildebrief, translated into German by Christel Kesting.  At that time, the Kesting Company was the sole importer of Seeley products in Germany. In those days, the doll hobby enjoyed an incredible boom time worldwide!


It all sounds so easy looking back, but the business was actually fraught with countless mishaps and dramas that constantly endangered the punctual printing of the Gildebrief. Articles were delivered too late, there were printing errors, the lithographer didn’t deliver the print-ready copy in time, and then there was  illness, forgetfulness etc. etc. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. Yet still: the Gildebrief always came out – not a single issue is missing in all the 30 years!


In the middle of 1990 Werner employed a professional graphic artist and in 1992 Karin Buttigieg joined the Gildebrief team.  At the end of 1992 the first English edition of the Gildebrief was published, the “Special Issue” Gildebrief. In those days the German and English versions were two separate magazines, including all the costs of producing two magazines, and it was not much later that the realization came that the costs were getting out of control.


Karin Buttigieg has  been  the publisher of the Gildebrief since 1995, when Werner Kesting was forced to retire from his business.


In 1996 it was decided to publish the Gildebrief with a separate English language translation booklet, after we were assured that it was technically impossible to print the German and English version using the same layout and printing process (which would have saved us great expense).


Then, while sitting in an old cane chair on Karin’s son ,Gavin’s  veranda in Tucson, Arizona, (enjoying the view, and the sunshine), Werner Kesting had an inspirational idea. Back in Germany, he immediately visited the printer to ask if his solution would work and the surprising  answer was: Yes, it would work.


So, since 1998, the German and English version of the Gildebrief  has been published using the same lay-out and printing process that you see now . This was a heaven-sent for us, since the cost of producing the two magazines together enables us to continue to provide the Gildebrief for you.


Meanwhile, the Gildebrief is the longest running doll making magazine in the world. Although the doll business is no longer what it once was, the Gildebrief magazine continues to be very popular, due mainly to the high quality of the articles.