Most young girls know what a topsy turvy doll is and want one. Why wouldn't they? You get two dolls in one. What's not to like especially if you get a Topsy Turvy: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf doll, like the one shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play.
Credits: Topsy Turvy: Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf doll, ca. 1890, Material fur | bisque | cloth, Origin France, Style multi-head, Object ID 78.1016.
I've always wanted to make a topsy turvy doll and have always been curious as to their origin. Since I was doing research on rag dolls I thought I'd do a little research on the topsy-turvy doll. Here's what I found:
The concept of the topsy-turvy doll is easy to understand. It's two dolls joined in the middle with the skirt pulled down to cover one of the heads. When you want to display the other head on the doll you just flip the doll over and the skirt will now cover the head you were just viewing and reveal the other head.
Historically, most of the heads had opposite expressions (i.e. happy and sad) or were characters that were polar opposites (i.e. Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf) but not all were created this way.
In researching their history I found several interesting articles about the topsy turvy dolls also known as Topsy and Eva, their ties to a dark past: slavery and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Here's what I found:
There was an article about Uncle Tom's Cabin entitled "Grow'd Again: Articulation and the History of Topsy" by Jim O'Loughlin, University of Northern Iowa, on the University of Virginia website. I hope you get a chance to read the article here.
The New York Historical Society Museum & Library Teen Historians website had an article entitled "The Topsy Turvy Doll: An Upside-Down History" by Hannah Batren
According to her article: While children are filled with wonder and curiosity, most of the time their toys have a hidden history to tell, and some are quite jarring. One doll that captures the joy of childhood and a dark history is the topsy turvy doll—a reversible, two-sided, doll featuring two characters joined at the hip. This doll has a much darker past, directly tied to one of the worst aspects of American history: slavery.......
The topsy turvy doll originally featured the figure of a black girl and white girl on the opposite side. In 1852, the first known version of the doll emerged as the Topsy and Eva doll, which was based on the characters Topsy and Eva in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Topsy—featured briefly in the novel—was immortalized as the stereotypical image of an ignorant slave girl who was transformed only with the help of her master’s daughter, Eva.......
You can read the entire article here.
There is an interesting article entitled "Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter By Lisa Hix" on the Collector's Weekly website here about the history of black dolls, including topsy-turvy.
There was another interesting article about the history of the topsy-turvy doll entitled "Topsy-Turvy a.k.a. Topsy-Turvy, Double Doll, Two-Sided Doll" on the Black Doll Collecting blog by Debbie Behan Garrett.
After getting a bit of information on their history I decided to see what some of the antique topsy-turvy dolls looked like. Here's what I found:
There was a Bruckner Topsy Turvy Mask Face Cloth Doll from the Joan & Lynette Antique Dolls and Accessories on the Rubylane.com website here.
According to their description this doll was12 inch tall, circa the early 20th century, and was manufactured by Bruckner Doll of Jersey City, New Jersey. The doll had two mask face heads-one white, one brown.
The Topsy Turvy Doll: Black and White, shown in the picture above is from The Strong National Museum of Play.
According to their description: The topsy-turvy doll has two heads, one at each end of the torso. One of the heads is usually hidden beneath a reversible long skirt. First appearing in the 19th century, the doll type seems ideal for suggesting one character and its alternate identity. Some doll historians think the topsy turvy evolved from the Pennsylvania Dutch hex doll. The head of a man at one end cured warts. The other end, with a head of a pig, cast spells. Other doll researchers note the topsy-turvy's popularity in the American South. These handmade cloth dolls had one head of a white child and one of a black child. This doll led to speculation about why such a plaything existed in a culture where blacks and whites seldom mingled except in harsh master-servant roles. The doll gained its greatest popularity in the late 19th century when the Southern type of doll was mass produced and when manufacturers used the doll to represent characters in classic fairy tales and other stories for children. One doll representing Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf and another depicting Snow White and the Wicked Queen were especially successful. The topsy turvy doll has remained popular for more than a century. Seamstresses have made examples from kits and from their own designs, while doll manufacturers have offered a variety of topsy turvys of many story characters.
Credits: Topsy Turvy Doll: Black and White, doll, Material fabric | paint, Style topsy-turvy, Object ID 110.8012
Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com
The AMERICAN HAND-PAINTED TOPSY-TURVY FROM BABYLAND RAG, shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.
According to their description: 12" An alternate doll head is posed on either side of a muslin torso,and designed so that the full-length costume which accompanies each head will hide the alternate head. When the doll is flipped over,the second head and second costume appear. Each head has muslin face with hand-painted facial features and hair including a blue-eyed white-complexioned girl wearing blue print dress and apron,and a brown-eyed brown-complexioned girl wearing red cotton dress,with apron and bandana..... Comments: early model of Babyland Rag's topsy- turvy,circa 1895.
Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com
The AMERICAN PETITE EARLY MODEL TOPSY-TURVY FROM BABYLAND RAG, shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.
According to their description: 11".... Each head has sateen or muslin face with printed/painted facial features and hair including a blue-eyed white-complexioned girl wearing blue print dress and apron,and a brown-eyed brown- complexioned girl wearing red cotton dress,with apron and bandana...... Comments: early model of Babyland Rag's topsy-turvy,circa 1895.
Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com
The AMERICAN CLOTH LITHOGRAPHED TOPSY-TURVY DOLL WITH PRESSED MASK FACE BY BRUCKNER, shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.
According to their description: 11" ...... Each head has sewn-on lithographed face with pressed-mask features,including black child with brown eyes,painted black hair,red hair ribbons,smiling expression with double row of teeth,wearing red bandana and cotton costume with apron; and white child with blue eyes,curly blonde hair,and wearing original blue muslin dress and apron..... Comments: Albert Bruckner,the dolls appeared in the Babyland Rag Series of Horsman,circa 1915.
Image Courtesy of Theriaults.com
The AMERICAN CLOTH TOPSY-TURVY DOLL WITH ORIGINAL COSTUME BY BRUCKNER, shown in the picture above, is from the Theriaults.com website.
According to their description: 12" All cloth doll with two heads at opposite ends of torso,designed that costume would cover one head while the other was revealed,each head with pressed mask face with painted facial features and hair,including blonde curly-haired girl with blue eyes,and brown- complexioned girl with black eyes,black mohair wig and smiling mouth with two rows of teeth. Condition: generally excellent. Marks: Pat'd July 9th,1901. Comments: Bruckner,circa 1901.
Image Courtesy of Stonegate Antiques On Trocadero.com
The 1901 Patent Albert Bruckner Black/White Topsy Turvy Doll, shown in the picture above, is from Stonegate Antiques on Trocadero.com.
According to their description: Having conceived of the revolutionary idea of a lithographed, molded-mask doll face in 1901, New Yorker, Albert Bruckner applied for and was awarded the patent for his idea that same year. All Bruckner dolls were then stamped, "PAT'D JULY 8th 1901" on the lower right neck edge. From 1901-1924, Bruckner produced this original, 12" Topsy Turvy doll for Horsman's Babyland Rag Doll line that features Caucasian, "Betty", on one end and African American, "Topsy", on the other. The inspiration for this doll is based on the character of Topsy in Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic 1852 novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
I expected the topsy-turvy dolls to look like the ones pictured above. I never expected one to look like the doll pictured below:
Image Courtesy of Joan & Lynette Antique Dolls and Accessories on Rubylane.com
The Topsy Turvy Two Face German Bisque Bonnet Head Doll, shown in the picture above, is from Joan & Lynette Antique Dolls and Accessories on the Rubylane.com website.
According to their description: This 11 ½ inch tall doll, circa the early 20th century, is quite unusual. While I do believe this a factory original doll, I have never seen one like it before. The doll has two German bisque bonnet heads. They are identical molds but have been painted in different colors. The lace trimmed wool dresses are also made from same pattern but one is light green and one is red. The skirt for both dolls is in the red color fabric. The torso of the doll is cloth while the arms are glazed porcelain/china. The heads are in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, or repairs. The china lower arms are perfect except for a chip to the fingers on the right hand of the doll dressed in light green. If you are a collector of two faced or topsy turvy dolls, here is a rare example that you will probably never see again.
If you'd like to see an amazing amount of pictures of beautiful 19th century dolls Theriaults has a wonderful "The Backler Collection" October 2014 Theriaults issue on Issuu.com. There is a wonderful picture of Topsy Turvy Dolls on Page 65, Page 66, Page 67, and Page 113.
Nowadays topsy-turvy dolls are very popular amongst doll makers, crafters, and mothers. Given this there are plenty of handmade topsy-turvy dolls for sale, patterns for sale to create your own, and free how-tos, e-patterns, tutorials, and video's showing how to make a topsy-turvy doll. Here's what I found:
The Topsy Turvy Doll: Cinderella - Rags to Riches, shown in the picture above, is from the Strong National Museum of Play.
Credits: Topsy Turvy Doll: Cinderella - Rags to Riches doll 2008, Manufacturer North American Bear Co. Material fabric, Origin China, Style topsy-turvy, Object ID 110.1495, Credit Line Courtesy of the Marianne Szymanski Toy Tips Institute.
Image Courtesy of Living Felt
The beautiful Topsy Turvy Cinderella by Teresa Brooks, Nelson, New Zealand, is a needle felted doll that won 2nd place in the Living Felt International Felting Contest 2012 and was shown on the Living Felt website. I think she's magnificent and hop you would agree.
According to their description: 12" H x 8" w This is a needle felted "topsy turvy" doll. Her body is completely needle felted, with wire armature through her arms so they are pose-able. Her clothes have been needle felted and wet felted with some accents in embroidery floss, silk ribbon, teeny natural pearls, antique tatting, and antique lace. Oh, and a scrap of old linen for her apron......
I found thirteen topsy-turvy dolls for sale on the Multiculturaltoys4u.com website here.
Image Courtesy of SNS Dolls on Etsy.com
I found the beautiful Topsy-Turvy Folk Art Izannah-Style Handpainted Cloth Doll, shown in the picture above, on SNS Dolls on Etsy.com.
Image Courtesy of AndBEverly on Etsy.com
I just love the topsy-turvy flip doll shown in the picture above on the AndBEverly Shop on Etsy.com. If you want to make one of your own her e-pattern is available here.
Image Courtesy of Dolls and Daydreams
If you'd like to make the adorable topsy-turvy doll, shown in the picture above, her pattern is available on the Dolls and Daydreams website here.
If you like vintage patterns the Topsy and Eva Vintage Vogart pattern, shown above, is available on the Cloth Doll Supply website.
There are 32 vintage topsy-turvy doll patterns, include two for 3-headed topsy-turvy dolls, are available on the Gail's Vintage Doll Patterns website here.
Image Courtesy of Amy Glassenberg of While She Naps
Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps has a pattern for the adorable Tess and Trixie Topsy Turvy Doll, shown in the picture above, here
There are many free how-to's, patterns, tutorials, and video's showing you how to make a topsy-turvy doll. Here's a few I found:
Maida Today has a wonderful post entitled "Tansy-Tabby Doll Instructions By Helen Pringle" showing how she made her topsy-turvy doll here.
Image Courtesy of Shiny Happy World.
A free "How to Make a Topsy Turvy Doll from any Rag Doll Pattern" is available on the Shiny Happy World website.
Image Courtesy of Keepsake Crafts
Keepsake Crafts has a wonderful .pdf tutorial showing you how to make their Topsy-Turvy Doll, shown in the picture above, here.
Image Courtesy of The Flutterby Patch
The Flutterby Patch blog has a wonderful free tutorial showing how they made their Tiny Topsy The Tooth Fairy knitted doll, shown in the picture above, here.
Image Courtesy of Yarn Inspirations
Yarn Inspirations has a free pattern showing how to make their knitted Bernat Topsy Turvy Doll, shown in the picture above, here.
Image Courtesy of My Creative Blog
Topsy -turvy dolls don't have to have another doll hidden on the flip side. They can have an adorable crocheted cupcake, like the one shown in the picture above, from the My Creative Blog by Ginger Hooker here.
I definitely need to make a topsy-curvy doll. If you love dolls, too, maybe you should make a topsy-turvy doll of your own. After all there's nothing better than getting two dolls in one.