Image Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ballerina and Bloomer Girls (Prima Donna) Paper Dolls
Publisher:Littauer and Boysen
Purveyor:Dennison Manufacturing Co. (New York, NY)
Dimensions:each: 14 3/8 × 6 1/8 in. (36.5 × 15.5 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of D. Lorraine Yerkes, 1959
I don't know if you're like me or not, but I like to reminisce about my childhood and the dolls, toys, or items that I loved to play with. In doing so I always say to myself, "Why didn't I save them?" I wish I had saved all of them. Some of them would be worth a fortune today.
Unfortunately, we moved a few times and old toys were discarded. Plus, what child thinks about saving something so they can have it 50 years down the road? None, that I know of and certainly not me. So, all my old toys, "Barbie" dolls, other dolls, and "paper dolls" were thrown away.
Today, with the advent of computerized doll makers and graphics "paper dolls" are making a comeback. You can create your own doll online or in your own graphics program and then print it out on your color printer on cardboard stock. Then just cut it out just like you did as a child. You're all set to play. How great is that?
In the paper, scrapbooking, stamping, and mixed media area there are so many gorgeous paper dolls being created and supplies generated to help you with that. In the mixed media and scrapbooking arena paper dolls are becoming an art form. Some of the creations are just astonishing. If you'd like to see some beautiful paper art dolls my" Paper Art Doll Creations" Pinterest board is here.
Plus, with the advent of the computers, paper dolls went virtual. You can create your own avatar dolls and virtual doll worlds. Over the years I've created a few avatars of my own, like my YoVille Linda shown below:
The Linda avatar on the left is the original YoVille (now known as YoWorld) avatar I created back in 2006. The Linda on the right is the "Punk" version. DollZ, which is what digital dolls are now known as, are extremely popular with numerous websites devoted to them. You can create the dolls, create their clothing, their homes, their worlds, their friends, etc. It's mindboggling.
I would have loved having everything that is available nowadays for paper doll creating when I was a child. I can remember sitting on the floor for hours with my scissors and painstakingly cutting out pictures from fashion magazines, which I used as paper dolls. Or, cutting out the "paper doll" pages from my mother's magazines. Cutting precise lines with the round tip children's scissors was a little difficult if not downright impossible. However, I did my best which is all anyone can ever really ask of you.
Then I would sit there for hours on end using my "paper dolls" and play acting. Sometimes we would have a "tea party." Other times we'd have a fashion show with everyone lined up. Then my older brother would come in an mess everything all up.
Ah, the joys of childhood and siblings. That's an article for another day. Back to the "paper dolls."
On my list of "To Do's" is to create my own "Victorian paper dolls" based upon my own doll designs. The problem is finding the "time" to do so. There are just so many things I want to try and so many things I want to do. My own "paper dolls" is among them.
Of course, thinking about "paper dolls" got me to wondering about their origin. If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog you know how much I love traditions and research.
The who, what, when, and where did mysteries. So, I thought I'd find out the history of paper dolls and the traditions surrounding them. When exactly did the "tradition" of playing with "paper dolls" begin? So, I did a little research.
It seems that paper dolls have a history that is as varied as the paper dolls themselves. Paper dolls over the centuries have been created for various reasons and in various forms, some of which would not resemble the paper dolls we are accustomed to today.
According to Wikipedia.com, "Paper dolls have been around as long as there has been paper. Faces or other objects were applied to the paper and they were used during religious rituals and ceremonies in the Asian cultures many centuries ago. The Japanese used paper for Origami, artful paper folding, and dating back to 800 AD they folded paper figurines in the shape of Kimono. Balinese people made paper and leather into puppets since before the Christian Era. Other cultures around the world have had paper formations or paper art, including in Poland, where they were called Wy'cinanki. These early types of paper figures differ from typical paper dolls today, as no clothes were made to be used with the dolls."
It is said that Marco Polo may have brought the tradition of using "paper dolls" for puppet shows home with him. The "dolls" were printed on "papyrus" and then glued to sticks to be used as puppets for puppet shows.
Other historians refer to life-size cutouts of "nobility" used during stage performances as the start of paper dolls. Paper dolls first appeared in Paris in the 18th century, during the reign of Louis XV. On the other side of the English Channel during this time period, British printers printed "paper dolls" on flat sheets and added moral stories to go along with their creations.
According to some historians; Paper dolls began in the mid-1700s amongst the European fashion centers of Vienna, Berlin, London and Paris. Here they offered paper dolls with costumes.
For other historians, "paper dolls" began with "traditional" dolls and started in the late 18th century with French seamstresses and dressmakers as a selling tool. They would create 8" tall figures on cardboard with outfits and distribute these to their favorite customers.
In 1810 the first commercial "paper doll" called "Little Fanny" was created by S. & J. Fuller & Co. The "Little Fanny" 15-page book was expensive to buy so it was initially only popular amongst the wealthier families. In 1812 "Little Henry" was published in America by J. Belcher.
Beginning in the 1830s, celebrity paper dolls and "royalty" paper dolls began to appear. In Pioneer America, paper was a prized resource. If children were lucky enough to get paper dolls, they treasured them and saved them between the pages of a book or in a carefully guarded box.
The cost of paper later changed with the invention of mechanical grinding machines, which became a ready source for pulp paper. However it wasn't until 1838 when cheap paper made from wood pulp (i.e. newsprint) was widely used that "paper dolls" was made affordable to the average child. As paper became less expensive and more common, dolls were mass produced on inexpensive cardboard and became readily available to children.
In the 1800's in the United States "McLoughlin Brothers" quickly became one of the largest manufacturer of paper dolls. They printed them on engraved wooden blocks. McLoughlin Brothers was bought in 1920 and is now known as "Milton Bradley."
Until the development of color printing, paper dolls were colored by hand. In America, Civil War widows often earned money by embellishing the printed paper dolls.
Early printed doll clothes did not include tabs for dressing the dolls, as is common with paper dolls today. Instead, children painstakingly attached the clothes with tiny drops of sealing wax. They took great care when they attached their clothes to their dolls so they wouldn't tear the paper doll.
Early paper dolls were available in various stages of modesty. Some came with permanently printed clothes. Others came with multiple layers of clothes, while others had printed underwear and required only outerwear. By the 1800s most commercial paper doll clothes featured tabs.
Homemade paper wardrobes often rivaled the silken fashions worn by real ladies and gentlemen of their respective era. Some artists used bits of cloth, tissue paper and magazine pictures to craft beautiful ball gowns.
And, something near and dear to my heart - During the Victorian era, Godey's Lady's Book, was the first magazine to publish a paper doll in their November 1859 issue. This paper doll was printed in black and white with a coloring page of costumes.
At the turn of the century, department stores soon discovered that paper dolls were the ideal form of advertising. Specially designed dolls appeared in ladies magazines such as the Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Ladies World, McCalls, Pictorial Review and Woman's Home Companion.
The most popular paper doll of the mid-20th century was probably Betsy McCall, created by Kay Morrissey. Since 1962, Barbie paper dolls have become the most popular among American children.
Today, "fine art paper dolls" and "paper art dolls" can be found on many websites and are sometimes drawn, painted or printed on paper. They even have their own Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) which can be traded or swapped. And, if that isn't modern enough you can arrange a playtime with your avatar and your friends in your own virtual community.
Collecting paper dolls is a wonderful hobby and one I would like to start. If you love historic fashions, ball gowns, personality paper dolls, modern characters, animals, cartoon characters, etc. there is a paper doll somewhere for you.
Paper dolls can be collected very inexpensively, are available for free downloads on many websites as printables and coloring pages, and are available for free in many magazines and ezines.
There are also hundreds of books for sale that include paper dolls of various types and historical periods to cut out and play with. I have bought several of these with paper dolls dressed in clothing from the Victorian Era just to see the beautiful dresses.
If all that isn't enough you can search for paper dolls on Pinterest and find thousands of paper doll examples to choose from here. "Paper Doll" collecting is a wonderful way to relive childhood memories, and share something "new" with your children, grandchildren, and friends.
As mentioned, I played with paper dolls as a child and never stopped loving them. However, the paper art doll creations of today are nothing at all like the paper dolls I played with. They're amazing works of art.
I love the fact that so many of the scrapbooking and mixed media paper doll designers are willing to share their paper doll making making secrets by creating free tutorials, patterns and how-to's for all of us to use. So, of course, I had to set up a Paper Doll Making Pinterest board to house all the wonderful links I've found. If you love paper dolls, too, here's a few tutorials, video's and how-to's to help you with creating your own works of art.
If you love my Paper Doll Tutorials, Video's and How-To's board please follow my board by clicking on the link above.
Happy paper doll making.
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If you'd like to know more about the history of paper dolls there is a wonderful "History of Paper Dolls" article by Judy M. Johnson on the OPDAG (Original Paper Doll Artists Guild) here.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the history of "paper dolls" .
Maybe I've encouraged you to become a "paper doll" collector, too. I know that I'm starting my own collection and, if I could just find some time, developing my own series of "Victorian paper dolls." So, who wants to swap paper dollies with me?