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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Greenville sculptor Rabsey joins Milford art gallery
Times Herald-Record, June 29th

An antique doll head nestles in an old wooden box partially revealed from behind an antique coopers tool. Rabsey's great-grandfather was a cooper, or barrel maker, so he has the old tools. Rabsey likes old and obsolete tools. His work contains old...Read more

Hamlin Memorial Library to host Founder's Day
Lewiston Sun Journal, June 24th

Along with the vehicles there is an antique doll and toy collection, horse-drawn carriages, player piano, old phonographs, table-top instruments and a jukebox. Founder's Day festivities include music, entertainment and a crafts fair. Donations for...Read more

Things to Do on Long Island, June 14 to 20, 2015
New York Times, June 11th

SAYVILLE Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts Gallery Dawn Schabner's paintings focusing on studies of an antique doll. June 20 through June 28. Free. Bay Area Friends of the Fine Arts Gallery, 47 Gillette Avenue. 631-589-7343; ST. JAMES Mills ...Read more

Stage review: One-man show gives peek into Barbra Streisand's basement mall
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 8th

At Bee's Doll Shop in her mall (“I didn't know who Bee was, so I imagined myself as Bea Arthur,” Alex says at first), there's an antique doll who blows bubbles. Ms. Streisand asks Alex about it and he creates a tragic past for “Fifi.” The lady of the...Read more

Go & Do: Dolls, teddy bears and all that jazz
Foster's Daily Democrat, June 6th

Doll lovers and collectors will have the chance to browse through a large selection of dolls, teddy bears, folk art, vintage doll clothing and linens, American Girl doll clothes, dollhouses, furniture and lots more. There will be all sorts of dolls...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

Antique doll haunts museum, 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