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”)

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    

Rare Antique Early Bahr & Proschild Bisque Swivel Head Shoulder Plate Doll C1870Small 9.5" Antique C1900 French Or German Bisque Head Doll W/ Original ClothingLarge Lovely Antique Heinrich Handwerck Simon & Halbig Child Doll 119 26" C1900Ltd Toy Stamp & Gorgeous French Fashion Bebe Closed Mouth Doll 12" Tall Q7Antique French S.f.b.j Bluette French Bbs Et Jouets Fashion Bisque Head DollAntique Jumeau Bebe Doll - Bisque, Wood & Composition 12 1/2" Size 21920s Antique 20" Martha Chase Hand Painted Stockinette Cloth Doll, Bob HaircutDelicate 20" Closed-mouth Antique Bebe Doll W/blue Spiral Paperweight Eyes Look!13" (33 Cm) Rare German Brown Bisque Doll 739,by Simon &halbig, All Original!Antique Franz Schmidt Simon & Halbig Character Baby Doll 1294 Ao C1910 18"Antique Rabery Delphieu Doll, 1880.Ltd Toy Stamp& Antique Simon & Halbig 1079 Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 31.5" L9015-1/2” K*r 101 Marie German Bisque Kammer & Reinhardt Character Girl Doll YqzAntique Large German 32" Doll With Pretty Porcelain Head & Painted Bisque Body.Small 7inch Antique Black Americana Bisque-head Cloth Body Black Boy Doll, NrTwo Antique German Jointed All Bisque Mignonette's W/glass Sleep Eyes 8" & 8.5"Antique 143 Kestner 7 Inch Jointed Doll14 " Antique Schoenhut Wigged Girl Doll In Original Under Clothes Shoes StandAntique 19thc Folk Art Carved Wood Doll & Original Clothing, Nr16" Perfect C1880 Antique German Bisque Closed Mouth Kestner Doll Nicely Dresse 17" French Fashion E Barrois With Original Clothes Soft Leather Body Cork Pate~~Lovely Bebe Elite 286 Antique Doll By Max Handwerck19” Antique German Bahr & Proschild #394 Bisque Head Girl Doll~as Is~attic! YqzC1925-1935 16" Lenci Italy Felt Doll W/mariuccia Face & Tag All Original*the Fairy Queen*19.5" Alt Beck & Gottschalk German C/m Bebe Doll Orig DressSmall Antique Simon Halbig Kammer Reinhardt 23 Sleep-eye German Bisque Head Doll13" (33 Cm) Superb Antique German Early Simon&halbig 1079 Dep DollAntique 1920 Kathe Kruse 16" Doll Somber Sweet Boy Signed And NumberedBisque Shoulder Head Antique Doll 19 " B Germany"-great Eyes & Dress*topnotch Toddler* 23" Kammer & Reinhardt 121 Young Girl Doll Presentation Dress17" Antique 19c Parian Head Doll - All Original Clothing - As FoundLtd Toy Stamp & Antique German Hertel Schwab Co 151 Character Baby Doll 16" D13Ltd Toy Stamp & 1840's Biedermeier Solid Dome China Head W/ Wig Doll 11.5" Q518” Antique Heinrich Handwerck #79 German Bisque Head Girl Doll (un-strung) YqzLtd Toy Stamp & Heinrich Handwerck 109-15 Bisque Head Doll Compo Body 30" L8414 1/2" Antique Schoenhut Girl Doll Open Mouth Teeth Molded BowAntique Kestner Mold #160 Bisque Head Doll - As Found23" Old Antique Bisque Head Composition German Dep Armand Marseille 1894 Doll Magnificent Large J.d.kestner Mold 192 Girl With Superbly Dreamy Face.Ltd Toy Stamp & Antique 28" Heinrich Handwerck Bisque Socket Head Doll #79Antique Porcelain Head Soft Body 23" Doll Clothes Kid Leather Arm Flat Hair Antique 4 " Beautiful Conta Boehme China Shoulder Head,elaborate Hair Style Rare7" Antique German Bisque K * R 101 19 Pouty "marie" Doll By Kammer And ReinhardtNr Antique Belton 117 Kestner Bru Bisque Doll Head Only Wig Size 7.5" As IsThree Antique German Bisque Head Dolls W/glass Sleep Eyes 13", 13" & 14"Small 12.5" Antique Belton-type German Or French Bisque Head Doll 309.6 Mark10 Inch Tall Antique German Bisque Kewpie Doll 24"antique German Heinrich Handwerck 109 Bisque Head Doll Orig Compo Orig MohairVery Rare 1428 Simon & Halbig Character Antique German Bisque Baby Doll Antique Kestner 6” Bisque Girl Doll Antique Parisian Doll Type Francois Gaultier Circa XixAntique Rare Schoenhut Wood Doll All Original 15" Carved Hair Blue BowLtd Toy Stamp & Antique German Heinrich & Halbig Bisque Head Doll 29.5" Tall D4Ltd Toy Stamp & Antique 24" Adolf Wislizenus Bisque Socket Head Special DollAntique Gebruder Heubach 7-1/4" Bisque Head & Composition Character Doll 50 DAntique Bisque Doll Head Closed Mouth Mold Number 174 Tlc NrLarge Big Adorable Unusual Antique Old German Bisque Head Character Baby DollOutstanding Early Mint In Marked Box 24" Kestner 164 W/original Chemise LrAntique French Fashion Doll Trunk, Dome Top For Clothing & Accessories W/ LithosAntique Armand Marseille Googly Eyed Doll #243 12" Tall

Recent News: Dolls

Source: Google News

'Lucy' and 'Annabelle' out on Blu-ray and DVD, January 25th

Looking for the perfect gift for his pregnant wife, John (Ward Horton) brings home Annabelle, a vintage doll in a white wedding dress. Mia (Annabelle Wallis) is initially delighted, but after their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult, she...Read more

What's Playing at Edmond Town Hall Jan. 23-27?
HamletHub, January 22nd

"Annabelle" will be screened Friday, Jan. 23 through Tuesday, Jan. 27 at Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main St., Newtown. After a violent and bloody home invasion by satanic cultists, a young couple begins to experience supernatural occurrences centering on a ...Read more

Hot on Demand: The Boxtrolls, Annabelle, and Lucy
WZZM, January 22nd

Annabelle - is the story of a couple whose house turns into a house of horrors after a vintage doll is possessed by some kind of satanic spirit. I was kind've interested in this one - mostly because "The Conjuring" - the story of real life paranormal...Read more

Knights of Columbus to have toy show
Dodge City Daily Globe, January 21st

Dodge City, Kan. The Knights of Columbus in Dodge City will be holding the 24th annual toy show and sale Saturday, Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. Admission will be $3, children under 6 years old are admitted free with an adult admission. If you bring...Read more

DVD Releases of the Week: Oscar Nominee 'The Boxtrolls', 'Lucy' Among New ...
Latin Post, January 20th

The horror flick tells the story of a couple who begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. The movie received terrible reviews, but obtained a following...Read more

Drummond Home to play host to antique doll exhibit
Skiatook Journal (subscription), January 17th

Starting Feb. 1, the Drummond Home will be hosting the annual antique doll exhibit. The exhibit will last the entire month and will feature many antique dolls. There will also be an array of antique China, bisque, porcelain, and of course, we can't...Read more

Antique Doll Show
Caravan News, January 6th

Annette and Eloy Lores, owners of Treasure Trove Antiques, are generously providing a collection of antique dolls for the public's enjoyment on January 16, 2015. Visit the Plymouth Square, 1319 N. Madison St., Stockton, beginning at 10:30 a.m. to view...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