People have made dolls for thousands of years for use as religious objects, toys, and holiday displays. Many traditional dolls, like the Japanese Kokeshi, are still highly desirable today. Many early American dolls were made of rags, or cloth, and are a reminder of the simple life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In the 19th century, French and German dolls were the most popular and innovative dolls in the western world. In the early 1850s, the Bebe doll appeared in France, starting the custom of making dolls in the form of infants and young children (as opposed to adults). The Germans caught on, and soon both countries were producing porcelain-headed dolls.

Late in the 1800s, the French started making dolls with unglazed heads, and the unglazed colored clay more accurately represented a human skin tone. These dolls became known as bisque dolls, and they remain a staple of doll-making.

Shortly thereafter, German doll makers started experimenting with celluloid, a lighter-weight and less breakable material. Celluloid dolls were popular for a number of years, despite the fact that the material was flammable. Dolls in Europe, Japan, and America made of celluloid, such as the famous Kewpie doll, were eventually replaced by dolls made of plastic, or composition dolls, made of a mix of materials including glue and sawdust.

The early 20th century saw the launch of a number of famous doll-making companies, such as Ideal, which became known among other things for its best-selling Shirley Temple dolls. Another was Vogue, which produced the Ginny doll, and of course Mattel, which launched its blockbuster Barbie line in the late 1950s.

Though most antique dolls started out as toys, some dolls have been sought by collectors from the beginning. A good example is the Simpich Doll Company, which produced small numbers of limited edition Christmas and Americana-themed dolls for over 50 years.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Dollreference.com

Dollreference.com

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Bisque Doll Simon & Halbig Germany Dep 107924” French *rabery & Delphieu Bebe* Labeled Jumeau Body Darling Antique 5 1/2" Kestner All Bisque German Closed Mouth Doll5 1/2" Antique German All-bisque Googly Doll, Model 217, In Original CostumeVintage 1930's Ideal Shirley Temple 18'' Composition Original Clothing As Found Vintage Solid Tm Body Brunette #3 Ponytail Barbie With Blue Eyeliner Great Bluette Antique DollVintage Barbie, 1959-1961, Black Hair Ponytail, Blue Eyes, Non-arched EyebrowsAntique Wooden Doll Schoenhut Girl Marked Model 308Vintage Barbie 1959 #1 Sample Doll*3days*Great Antique Bluette DollAntique Bisque Doll Lots Of Teeth! Germany 305 Nice Blue Eyes!#1brunette Vintage Barbie All Original With Box And AccessoriesVintage Barbie #3Vintage Cissy DollAntique 28" C1870 Most Incredible All Original Wax Over Paper Mache DollHuge Lot Vintage Barbie, Ken, Allan, Clothes, Accessories, C/nc O/f's~no ReserveAntique Dolls German Boy Doll Dollhouse Katzhütte / Limbach 1900 MiniaturAntique Primitive Doll Greiner Papier Mache Big! 31" Dated 1858Antique Bisque Doll S&h Heinrich Handwerck Original Body 0 1/2~ Lot Of 6!! Antique German Mohair Doll Wigs That Need Some Work ~Vintage Barbie Clothes/case/dolls/magic Color Doll 1960sVintage Madame Alexander Cissy Queen Elizabeth Coronation Doll 1950sAntique Bisque Doll Simon & Halbig Santa Needs Tlc 1249~ Adorable!! Antique German #292 Googly Doll Head... Head Only ~Vintage 1967 Fashion Model Barbie Doll 2 Piece Swimsuit Pink Bikini Stand & BoxAntique German All Bisque Jointed Pig Hertwig DollVintage Hard Plastic Madame Alexander Cissy DollAntique Bisque Doll Kestner 260 Germany Jdk So Cute!Rar Antique Dolls German Bisque Doll With Hat Cap Germany Limbach 1900Long Hair Brunette Vintage American Girl Barbie~ Cute!! Antique German Am # 233 Character Bandy Doll...damaged Foot ~Antique Bisque Miniature Doll Kestner Dollhouse 257 15Large 25" Antique Simon Halbig #1079 Dep DollAntique Doll-bisque Head & Comp Body-23 Inch-glass Eyes-marked 1907 9-german?nr!Huge Simon And Halbig Character Doll TlcAntique Bisque Doll S&h Heinrich Handwerck 3 Original Body! Antique Bisque 15 1/2" Simon & Halbig 1079 Doll Dep Blue Eyes, Pierced EarsBeautiful Antique Simon And Halbig Bisque Doll Marked 1923/9 W/ Jointed BodyLot Of 4 Vintage Barbie And Ken Dolls Tlc Original ClothesVintage Original 1972 Kenner Blythe Doll Red Hair Blue Eyes*wow* Vintage Early Sindy Doll - Platinum Blonde Marilyn? Made In Hong KongAntique German Bisque Jointed Doll W/clothes Glass Eyes Open Close Open Mouth Antique Bisque Miniature Doll Kestner 147-11 Dollhouse MignonetteAntique German Bisque Jointed Asian Doll Glass Eyes Open Close W/clothes2 Beautiful Antique Small Bisque DollsAntique 14" C1911 Wooden Schoenhut Doll W/mohair Wig & Nice Outfit, SignedGorgeous! 1972 Vintage Kenner Blythe Raven Wispy Bangs Lovely Vintage Condition% 1959 Mattel Vintage #4 Blonde Solid Body Barbie Excellent Condition Lot-2Spectacular Vintage Solid Tm Body Restored Blonde #2 Ponytail Barbie Antique Bisque Black Doll Dream Baby Germany Armand MarseilleAntique Bisque Doll Kestner? Dollhouse 540/3~ Beautiful!! Antique Larger K*r Simon Halbig Doll Head ... Head Only ~Antique Bisque Doll Limbach Germany Exceptional Dress Blonde With Bows P 85Beautiful Dark Colored Tete JumeauPre-owned Vintage Barbie DollVintage 1950s Ideal Little Miss Revlon 10 1/2" Doll, Clothes, Accessories, BoxesVintage Ideal Toy Corp. Platinum Patti Playpal Original Life-size Doll G-35-7Artist Repro Antique French Doll Petit & Dumoutier Lynda & Alan Marx P.1.dVintage 1960's Barbie #5 Or #6, Sleep Eyes Head, Fashion Queen Doll & More