I Just Love The Victorian Era!

I have loved dolls, history, and the Victorian Era since I was little and can credit my grandmother for that. As a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 from my great, great Aunt Flossie. I was captivated by the dresses and became hooked. I just love to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. Their history, their etiquette, their fashion, their hopes, their desires.... I also love to design my own Victorian dolls wearing those beautiful dresses. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Boudoir Dolls Are Meant For Sitting - No Touching!


Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

When I saw the Boudoir Doll, shown n the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play I was intrigued and reminded of the dolls I always had sitting in the middle of my bed. They were just some of my dolls and nothing as fancy as the Boudoir doll shown here.  Plus, unlike Boudoir Dolls which were intended for grown-up girls, my dolls were those you would expect from a little girl.  And, unlike Boudoir Dolls which are not meant to be played with, mine were played with and as a result didn't last.

According to their description: In the early 20th century, fashionable women decorated their bedrooms, parlors, and living rooms with large, often elaborately dressed dolls. Called boudoir, bed, flapper, smoker, sofa, salon, and parlor dolls, these long-limbed figures often sported lavish outfits with laces, ribbons, and ruffles. Exotic and a bit campy, most boudoir dolls wore heavy make-up and bore a sultry look as if they intended to steal a boyfriend or cause trouble at a party. The Lenci doll company made boudoir dolls depicting foreign costumes, historical fashions, Pierrot, smokers, and vamps.

Credits: Boudoir Doll 1925-1926, Manufacturer Lenci, Material felt, Origin Italy, Object ID 79.9868

My understanding is that Boudoir Dolls were popular from 1915 until 1940 and made by French, U.S., English and Italian doll manufacturers.  The dolls were used primarily as bedroom decorations for teenagers and ladies and were characterized by painted composite heads, long thin bodies, long extremities, and adult features.

Most of the dolls were known as Boudoir Dolls, Art Dolls, Bed Dolls, Smoker Dolls, Salon Dolls, Parlor Dolls, Art Deco Dolls, Sofa Dolls, French Dolls, Lenci, Poupees, Flapper Dolls and Vamps.

They became very popular amongst wealthy women who often brought their dolls along to their seamstress when they were having an outfit made for them so she could create a mini-version for their doll.

As is the case with most of the dolls that intrigue me, I wanted to know more.  So, I did a little research.  Here's what I found:

Milliner's Models Dolls - Fashion Model or Toy?


Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

When I saw the "Milliner's Models" Doll Illustration, shown in the picture above, from the Dolls from the Index of American Design at the National Gallery of Art I was curious as to exactly what a "Milliner's Models" doll was.  I'd never heard of them.

Here's their description for that doll: This doll is one of the loveliest of the so-called "milliner's models." The term is actually a misnomer, for such dolls were meant to be used as toys. Many early nineteenth-century paintings show children holding such dolls. There may have been actual milliner's models before the toy doll of that name came into use, but we do not know how close the resemblance between the two may have been. This doll is dated about 1834. The costume is simple and beautifully made; the hairstyle is that of a young girl of the period. Pantalettes are typical for this sort of doll.

Credits: Eugene Croe (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Ruth E. Whittier (object owner), Doll--"Betsy", c. 1937, watercolor and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15453.

Papier-Mâché Dolls


Slide 23 -  Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

From what I understand towards the end of the 18th century papier-mâché was the doll industries favorite composition and replaced wood and wax dolls. So, when I saw Slide 23shown in the picture above, from the Dolls from the Index of American Design  at the National Gallery of Art I was interested in what these dolls looked like.

After I read their description, shown below, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that this doll's head was used to smuggle morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War. You just never know what dolls may be up to!

According to their description: Papier-mâché was a widely used substance for making dolls. Papier-mâché itself is a composition made from paper pulp combined with various other substances. Dolls made of this material reached a height of popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. They first appeared much earlier, however. Edouard Fournier History of Children's Toys and Games mentions the use of this product by dollmakers from the time of Francis I of France, about 1540. Centuries later, in 1858, the first known patent for a doll's head in the United States was issued to Ludwig Greiner of Philadelphia for his paper-mâché model. This doll, named "Nina," has a unique history. Behind her innocent-looking face, in the hollow of her paper-mâché head, she smuggled morphine and quinine across the border during the Civil War.

Credits: Renee A. Monfalcone (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Confederate Museum (object owner), Doll--"Nina", 1935/1942, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15538

According to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on About.comPapier Mache was a good material to make doll heads from because it could be molded and painted. Molding allowed more realistic doll features than carving, and the dolls were lighter than carved wood. Papier Mache was the preferred material by German doll makers until the mid 1800s when China Dolls were introduced.

The Wikipedia.com page on Papier-Mâché has a section on how papier-mâché is prepared here.

If you'd like to know more about making various types of papier-mâché there is a Paper Mache Recipes article on the Ultimate Paper Mache website.

Also, according to Denise Van Patten's Paper Mache Dolls article on About.com: Some of the earliest commonly found Papier Mache dolls are called Milliner's Models today. These dolls were made from approximately 1840 through 1860, and are often found in smaller sizes (9 to 15 inches) and with wooden limbs.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Izannah Walker Dolls


I'll bet that back in 1873 Izannah Walker would have no idea how popular her dolls would be for art doll artists and doll collecting enthusiasts in the 21st century.

If you don't know who Izannah Walker is she was the first person to patent a doll in the U.S. It is thought she made or gave away over a thousand dolls molded with multiple layers of cloth and paste then painted.

In 1873 Izannah Walker filed the patent, shown in the picture above, with the U.S. Patent Office - N0. 144,373. Patented Nov.4,l873.

First Presbyterian Church Rag Dolls Otherwise Known as Presbyterian Rag Dolls


Image Courtesy of Toy and Miniature Museum

The beautiful "Little Doll On The Prairie" Presbyterian Rag Doll c. 1880, shown in the picture above, is part of the Toy and Miniature Museum doll collection.

Credits: Little Doll on the Prairie, PRESBYTERIAN RAG DOLL c. 1880, MANUFACTURER Ladies Sewing Committee of the First Presbyterian Church,  MATERIAL cotton, oil, wool

From what I understand the women of the First Presbyterian Church of Bucyrus, Ohio launched a fundraising campaign in the 1880's.  They decided to make and sell handmade rag dolls which  have become known as 'Presbyterian Rag Dolls." The dolls were all handmade with painted faces, gusseted bottoms, clothing, and shoes for both boy and girl dolls.

It seems that many generations of church women made these dolls in the early 1900's, again in the 1950's, and again in the 1980's.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Polly Heckewelder Moravian Rag Dolls - Loved and Made For Over 140 Years

Image Courtesy of the Moravian Church in North America

You certainly have to admire a doll that is so well loved that she is made over and over for 140+ years.  Such is the case with the Moravian Rag Dolls, shown in the picture above, otherwise known as Polly Heckewelder Doll. This doll is the oldest continuously made cloth doll in America.

I think she's just beautiful and hope you would agree.  Based on the picture above it's not hard to understand why this doll is loved so much.

Given her 140 year history, it seemed like there might be a lot of information about this doll so I decided to do a little research. I was wrong.  There's not a lot of information on her out there.  Here's what I found:


According to Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edwards: A charming little doll called Polly Heckewelder has been made by members of the Moravian Church since 1872.  The dolls namesake was the daughter of Moravian missionary John Gottlieb Ernestus Heckewelder.  His daughter Polly was born in 1781 while he was working with the Delaware Indians and she is believed to be the first child born in the Ohio territory.

Also: The Ladies Sewing Society of the Moravian Church Guild in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, first made these dolls for the aid of wounded Civil War soldiers.  After the war the funds were used to help former slaves and eventually to aid moravian ministries for their other charity work.

From what I understand the dolls were all handmade as a means to benefit the Moravian Church sisters, members of the Ladies Sewing Society of the Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem Pennsylvania.  The dolls that were dressed like young girls were called Polly Heckewelder, in honor of Johanna Marie Heckewelder (known as Polly) the daughter of the Reverend Heckewelder.  The dolls have been made for over 140 years.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wax Dolls, Montanari and Pierotti Dolls - Gotta Love The Beauty of Wax


Slide #24 -  Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

Two of the slides from the Dolls from the Index of American Design  at the National Gallery of Art that I loved were Slide #24, shown in the picture above, and Slide #25, shown in the picture below.  I was drawn to them due to the dresses and when I read their descriptions I found out they were wax dolls, which piqued my curiosity.

According to their description: Wax dolls have been made from very early times — by the ancient Romans, for example, on through the first quarter of the twentieth century. This wax doll was probably made in England, which was noted for its wax dolls in the last half of the nineteenth century. This doll dates from the 1870s, and her elaborate costume is typical of the period. The dress is of blue taffeta trimmed with white organdy lace. The doll's childlike face and hairstyle might seem better suited to a child's body, but the true child doll was not yet common. Not until the 1880s was there a change from predominantly adult dolls to dolls representing children and babies. Many collectors still prefer dolls with features of a child but dressed as an adult.

Credits: Lillian Causey (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), The Baltimore Museum of Art (object owner), Doll in Blue Dress, 1935/1942, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.7734.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Babyland Rag Dolls With Painted Faces Versus Babyland Rag Dolls With Lithograph Faces


Image Courtesy of  Theriaults.com

I used to think that there isn't any doll on the planet I wouldn't like. That is generally true except I did run across a few lithograph Babyland Rag Dolls whose outfits I loved, but I wasn't totally crazy with their faces.

Now you might think I'm saying I don't like the Babyland Rag Dolls.  That would be incorrect.  I'm just not keen on the Babyland Rag Dolls with lithograph faces, but love the Babyland Rag Dolls with painted faces like the AMERICAN CLOTH DOLL BY BABYLAND RAG c. 1890, shown in the picture above, from Theriaults.com.  She is just darling

According to their description: 15"  All-cloth doll with flat-dimensional face, painted facial features, large brown upper-glancing eyes, thick brown upper eyeliner, red eyeliner accents, one-stroke brows, outlined nose, painted closed mouth, blushed cheeks, blonde mohair wig, muslin stitch-jointed body, mitten hands..... Comments: Babyland Rag, circa 1890....

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The Babyland Lady Doll c. 1912-1914, shown in the picture above, is part of The Strong National Museum of Play doll collection.

I just love her painted face and sweet outfit. She is just pain adorable.  Wouldn't you agree?

Credits: Manufacturer E. I. Horsman & Co., Material cloth, Origin New York, NY, Object ID 79.9967

Sunday, April 24, 2016

China Head Dolls - They're Just So Beautiful


Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

I have always been fascinated with China Head Dolls and have always wanted to buy some china heads to make some dolls of my own.  I've always felt that as far as dolls are concerned some of the most beautiful dolls throughout history have to be the china head dolls, like the China Head Doll, shown in the illustration above, from the National Gallery of Art.

According to their description: This china-headed doll has a particularly lovely costume. The dress is plaid silk taffeta; it is worn over a petticoat of tan alpaca trimmed with blue silk bands. The pantalettes are of cotton with eyelet embroidery. The doll's hairstyle makes her a collector's item; china dolls with a knot on the head are rare. This feature, however, is almost completely hidden by the silk bonnet. This doll has a cloth body and arms and feet of kid. The head is glazed porcelain. China-head dolls were first made in Europe around 1750 but did not become extremely popular until the 1840s. This doll dates from 1840–1850. Often the heads were imported to America and used on American-made dolls' bodies.

Credits: Beverly Chichester (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Edison Institute of Technology (object owner), Doll in Plaid Dress, c. 1937, watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.7814.

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

The beautiful China Head Doll, shown in the illustration above, is also from the National Gallery of Art.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Missionary Rag Babies - Loved So Much They're Well Worn


Julia Jones Beecher, shown in the picture above,  and the members of the sewing circle of the Park Congregational Church made stockinette dolls from 1893 to 1910 for their charitable missionary fund, which resulted in the dolls being named "Missionary Rag Babies." They were made from stockinette, which is a soft, loosely knitted stretch fabric (i.e. underwear)  and had needle-sculptured and hand painted faces and stockinette bodies.  They also had applied ears, looped yarn hair, and sewn joints.

According to a post entitled "A Virtual Peek at the New Exhibit" on the Chemung County Historical Society blog each doll was accompanied with a note that said:  If you will always take by the waist and never by the arm; if you will give your hand a wash before you play with me; if you will not leave me out in the dust or in the sunshine, and if you will not squeeze my face flat; I will be your pretty baby for a long time.

Also: The Beecher Baby Doll is the most famous locally-made doll.  In 1885, Julia Beecher, wife of Reverend Thomas K. Beecher, was inspired to make a baby doll while she was mending stockings.  The first doll that she made for her niece led to many more.  In the next ten years, Mrs. Beecher sold 950 handmade dolls.  Over $1,000 in profits from the sales were used for projects by the ladies’ organization of Park Church.  

The irony of the dolls receiving such a note was that they were handled so much that nowadays they are very hard to find and if found are usually well worn.  I like to think they were loved so much they just couldn't stand up to the test of time.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Quaker Dolls - Quiet Beauty

Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

I found 7 beautiful Quaker Doll  illustrations in the Index of American Design collection from the National Gallery of Art that I know you're going to love.

I found the Quaker Doll c. 1936, shown in the picture above, from the National Gallery of Art to be totally irresistible.  I would love to see the actual doll and can only imagine how beautiful she must have been.

According to their description: Early American dolls are shown in a wide variety of costumes. This fine doll of the eighteenth century represents a Quaker woman. The doll's head, arms, and legs are made of carved and painted wood. Throughout history, wood has been one of the most frequently used materials for making dolls. For many doll makers, it was both readily available and inexpensive.

Credits: Mina Lowry (artist), American, 1894 - 1942, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Miss Polaire Weissman (object owner), Doll, c. 1936, watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15496.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pioneer & Prairie Dolls, Rag Dolls, Appalachian Dolls, Wagon Train Dolls, Table Cloth Dolls, Pillowcase Dolls, Handkerchief & Prayer Dolls, Folk Art Dolls - They're All Dolls That Were Loved By Early American Colonial Girls




 Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

As a lover of dolls I have been thoroughly enjoying all the rag dolls illustrations and accompanying descriptions that I've seen in the Index of American Design collection from the National Gallery of Art.

The following description accompanied the Rag Doll, shown in the picture above, from the National Gallery of ArtHandmade dolls were among the many crafts produced by people of the Spanish colonial southwest. This rag doll, possibly dating from 1795, was made by a California Indian woman for the original owner, a Mrs. Villa. The doll may be seen as an Indian's interpretation of Spanish colonial women. In the early days of the United States, southwest arts and crafts were often the work of Indian artisans.

Credits: Bertha Semple (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Mrs. F.C. (Vernette Snyder) Ripley (object owner), Doll, c. 1937, watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15415

Image Courtesy  National Gallery of Art,Washington.

One of my favorite Rag Doll c. 1935 illustrations from the National Gallery of Art is the one shown in the picture above.  I just love her outfit and face.

Credits: Stenzel, Erwin, American, active c. 1935, Rag Doll 1935/1942, watercolor, graphite, and pen and ink on paper, overall: 40.7 x 30.6 cm (16 x 12 1/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 12" high, Index of American Design 1943.8.16825.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Miss Columbia and the Columbian Rag Doll

Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com

The American Cloth Doll, shown in the picture above, sold on Theriaults.com for $15,500. When I first saw this I wondered why this particular doll was so expensive. What was it about her that drove that price so high?

According to her description: 19" All cloth doll with flat dimensional face, having oil painted facial features and hair, blonde hair with softly swirling curls at the forehead, painted brown eyes with large black pupils and white highlights, single stroke brows, defined nose, closed mouth with outlined lips, blushed cheeks, stitch-jointed body (see photo) with oil-painted lower arms and legs, original costume.... MARKS: Columbian Doll Emma E. Adams, Oswego Centre N.Y.. COMMENTS: Emma Adams, circa 1892, the doll was awarded the Gold Medal at the Chicago World Fair of 1893, the first American doll to be awarded that grand prize. VALUE POINTS: Extraordinary original condition of the rare doll, with outstanding artistry of painting. Realized Price: $15,500. Lot Number: 14.

The reason she was so expensive was she was an original Columbian Doll circa 1892 by Emma E. Adams, whose doll was awarded the gold Medal at the Chicago World Fair of 1893.

I found her face totally enchanting and had to find out more. Here's what I found out:


According to Cloth Dolls From Ancient To Modern by Linda Edwards: The Columbian rag dolls were first made by Emma Adams in 1891.  They were made of muslin and had flat faces which were oil painted by Emma.  The eyes were painted blue or brown.  Their bodies were stuffed with cotton or excelsior, with an inner core of sawdust in the heads and torso.  The limbs were painted flesh color and were stiffened with sizing.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Simple Beauty of Clothespin Dolls

Image Courtesy of The Old Stone Fort Museum

Peg Wooden dolls and spoon dolls have been arounds of years and played with by millions of children over the years.

Another wood doll that has been a favorite of children and parents from colonial times to the present are clothespin dolls.  Part of the reason was they were an item readily available at home.  Just add a few rags and you have a clothespin doll.

Like spoon dolls clothespin dolls and clothespin doll kits continue to be popular items for sale in many museum shops.  Not only are they fun for children but the fun is sprinkled with a little bit of education in learning about the history of these dolls.

The Clothespin Doll Kit shown in the picture above is from The Old Stone Fort Museum and is similar to the clothespin doll kits sold by many museums.

According to their description: Our Clothespin Doll Kit makes two dolls, a boy and a girl doll. Included in the kit are two wooden clothespins, fabric, lace, ribbon, pipe cleaners, pearl cotton for the hair, pattern, instructions, and history. These cute dolls will look adorable displayed with other old-fashioned dolls. The clothespins we provide have flat bottoms so the dolls will stand by themselves.

Given how popular the clothespin dolls have and continue to be I thought I'd have no problem finding pictures of antique or vintage clothespin dolls and current clothespins dolls being sold by many crafters today.  The latter was no problem.  The former was.  They are basically nonexistent.