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]



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Recent News: Dolls

Source: Google News

Collectors on look out for history behind dolls
www.ottawacommunitynews.com/, April 27th

“Provenance on a real antique doll can add value … because you know where it came from.” The cost of admission to the Ottawa Doll Show and Sale is a minimum $2 donation in support of the Ottawa Food Bank. The EY Centre is located at 4899 Uplands Dr...Read more

Longtime St. Mary's County teacher is 104 years young
Bay Net, April 25th

She is also an accomplished seamstress and has amassed an impressive antique doll collection. Connie Himmelberger, Director of The Hermitage at Solomons, where Nellie now resides, said, “We love Nellie and we love her being here. She participates in ...Read more

Former St. Mary's County teacher turns 104
So Md News, April 23rd

She is also an accomplished seamstress and has amassed an antique doll collection. Connie Himmelberger, director of The Hermitage at Solomons where Nellie now resides, said, “We love Nellie and we love her being here. She participates in everything.”...Read more

Toy Show a trip down memory lane
Chicago Tribune, April 21st

The 42nd Annual Chicago Toy Show will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 at county fair grounds in St. Charles. The 42nd Annual Chicago Toy Show will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 at county fair grounds in St. Charles. (HANDOUT). By Kathy ...Read more

Grace Fredrickson
Zumbrota News-Record, April 15th

Grace enjoyed traveling and had traveled throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, constructing miniature items for doll houses, baking, sewing, doing genealogy and sewing vintage doll clothing of which she won prize ribbons at the local level...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

Crazy Doll exhibit 'a little creepy'
Rockford Register Star, April 3rd

Two years ago, she found antique doll parts on eBay. The parts were manufactured in Germany and thrown in the ground because they were imperfect. Someone was digging them up to sell online. Since then, she's been looking for ways to include them in ...Read more

Antique doll haunts museum
KING5.com, October 31st

QUESNEL, British Columbia - Curator Ruth Stubbs will never forget how Mandy, the antique doll, arrived at the Quesnel museum in 1991. Mandy's once-pretty porcelain face was cracked, her stuffed body ripped and her clothes dirty. Stubbs said, "Out of...Read more