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.


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Recent News: Dolls

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Beware of cheaper copies of weathervanes
Tyler Morning Telegraph, July 27th

Shoes, socks and pink satin bows are fine. Would gently soaking the dress in a mild detergent be a no-no? I would like to give it to my granddaughter. What is the doll worth? A: Vintage doll clothing is very delicate. Your doll's dress is organdy. If...Read more

Kovels: Weathervanes, both antique and vintage, remain popular
Winston-Salem Journal, July 23rd

Answer: Vintage doll clothing is very delicate. Your doll's dress is organdy. If it has mildew, brush it off and air it in the sunlight. You can't do much about yellowing. It can be soaked in a solution of one tablespoon of mild detergent per gallon of...Read more

Kovels Antiques: Antique weathervanes
Observer-Reporter, July 23rd

Shoes, socks and pink satin bows are fine. Would gently soaking the dress in a mild detergent be a no-no? I would like to give it to my granddaughter. What is the doll worth? A. Vintage doll clothing is very delicate. Your doll's dress is organdy. If...Read more

Car Telematics Market, Wireless M2M and China Passenger Car Telematics ...
SYS-CON Media (press release), July 22nd

PHOENIX, Jul. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- American Auction Company (www.americanauctionco.com) will host an Antique and Vintage Doll Auction in Phoenix on Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. (PST). Items will be sold to the highest bidder, ...Read more

Asphodel finds success in first antiques auction
The Advocate, July 15th

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL -- Auctioneer Lance White, left, describes an antique doll house carried by Jodie Seal on July 11 at an auction hosted by Asphodel Antiquities. Seal and her husband, Jake, are proprietors as well as owners of...Read more

The History of Creepy Dolls
Smithsonian, July 15th

Most recently, devil worshippers inadvertently turned a smiling vintage doll into a grinning demon in last October's Annabelle, a film in the Conjuring franchise. Director John Leonetti, who did not return requests for comment, told The Huffington Post...Read more

Vintage doll collection has grown into museum of sorts
Montreal Gazette, May 19th

Madeleine Léger with a couple of wooden dolls with articulating limbs from the 1750s made in eastern Europe, at her home in Hudson. Her collection of over 250 dolls, which she calls a museum, can be seen on an appointment basis. John Mahoney ...Read more

RIVERSIDE: Vintage doll, toy and bear sale set
Press-Enterprise, April 7th

The Inland Empire Doll Club has set its12th annual Vintage Doll, Toy and Bear Sale for Saturday, April 11 at the Janet Goeske Senior Center, 5257 Sierra St. in Riverside. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Admission is $4. The nonprofit club is a...Read more