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February 2005 - Newsletter Article Continued

Collecting, Loving & Playing With Vintage Paper Dolls


This months newsy topic is dolls, Paper Dolls, to be exact. My pre-spring cleaning has caused me to sit, reexamine and weed out my doll collection. I am beyond capacity and need to pare down to only the dolls I love and the ones that have sentimental value. Paper dolls fall into the dolls I love category.

I have always enjoyed paper dolls and now that I have a granddaughter I have someone to play paper dolls with once again. I subscribe to a current magazine ... for the paper dolls even though I do read the articles too.

Recently I can across an amazing find, both of which are for sale. A 1963 Tammy Little Golden Book ($60.00 + shipping) with the paper dolls and clothes intact. Actually this book looks never read. I also have an early McCalls magazine with the Betsy McCall paper doll page intact. If you are interested in either of these please email me. They will go quickly once I get them in the shop so jump now if you want them.

There have been a number of companies throughout the years who have made paper dolls. Their commercial beginnings can be traced back to the early 1800's, but paper dolls have been around for as long as there has been creative people and paper to create dolls with.

Until the development of chroma-lithography printing, paper dolls were colored by hand. In America, Civil War widows often earned money by embellishing the printed paper dolls. For instance, they would create a series of beautiful brides--"the Belle Of the South, "The Belle Of the West, " and "The Belle of Saratoga." 

An interesting fact about early printed doll clothes was that they did not include tabs for dressing the dolls. Instead, children attached the clothes with tiny drops of sealing wax.

Pre-1900 Paper Dolls:

McLoughlin Brothers, founded in 1828, became the largest manufacturer of paper dolls and children's books in the United States. They printed their paper dolls from wood blocks engraved in the same way as metal plates. Some of the most popular dolls, selling for five and ten cents a set, were Dottie Dimple, Lottie Love and Jenney June. McLoughlin Brothers was sold to Milton Bradley in 1920.

A smaller publishing company, Peter G. Thompson, published paper dolls in the 1880s. Similar to the McLoughlin style, some of their titles were Pansy Blossom, Jessie Jingle, Lillie Lane, Bessie Bright and Nellie Bly, selling for eight to fifteen cents per set. Also in the 1880s, Dennison Manufacturing Company (est. 1843) crafted jointed paper dolls, other than their very early and post 1950 dolls. Their paper dolls could be purchased individually or in a deluxe boxed set complete with furniture and a doll house. Dennison brought out the creative streak in children by providing cloth in the doll sets so that the kids could create clothing for the paper dolls. In the 1890s, Frederick A. Stokes and Co. published several sets of paper dolls including likenesses of European royalty and Martha Washington.

There of course were several European companies that created wonderful paper dolls. Most of their creations depicted royalty or stage actors. The best known company was that of Raphael Tuck. Their first paper doll was a baby with a nursing bottle, patented in 1893. Tuck dolls are easily identified by the trademark, series name and number on the back of each piece. Tuck dolls have a large number of clothes and interchangeable heads. Tuck also made "regular" paper dolls. Some of their titles include Sweet Abigail, Winsome Winnie, Bridal Party, My Lady Betty, Prince Charming, the popular Fairy Tale series and many more. Tuck made paper dolls several years into the twentieth century.

Post 1900 Paper Dolls and Magazine Paper Dolls:

Among the companies publishing paper dolls at the turn of the century and beyond was Selchow and Righter, who printed the famous Teddy Bear now reproduced by B. Shackman/Merrimack and Co. of New York.
The Kaufmann and Strauss Company of New York produced what they called Embroidery Dolls in 1915. They produced 4 sets - Sister Ruth, Sister Mary, Sister Helen and Brother Jack. They each came in an envelope which included one doll with four outfits, four hats, embroidery needle and embroidery silk. Fish-Lyman Company produced Margaret Evans Price paper dolls in 1922 and 1923. These dolls were sold through the Child Life magazine.

McLoughlin and Raphael Tuck continued manufacturing paper dolls into the twentieth century. McLoughlin kept making paper dolls, along with children's books even after its sale to Milton Bradley in 1920. Saalfield Publishing of Akron, Ohio, began making children's books, dictionaries and bibles in 1900. Their first paper dolls created in 1918, were "Dollies to Cut and Paint", which combined full-color pages with black-and-white. Milton Bradley's first set of paper dolls was produced in 1914 and they were called Bradley's Tru-Life Paper Dolls. A lesser known paper doll of MB was set number 4279, their "Jointed Doll with Embossed Dresses." Milton Bradley also had a paper doll set named, "Dollies Dresses to Color and Cut Out."

In November 1859, Godey's Lady's Book was the first magazine to print a paper doll in black and white followed by a page of costumes for children to color. This was the only paper doll Godey's ever published, but it set the trend that many women's magazines followed in years to come.

The 1900s saw an explosion of paper dolls in many lady's and children's magazines. Lettie Lane, painted by Sheila Young, made her entrance in Ladies' Home Journal in October 1908 and ran until July 1915. The pages included Lettie, her friends, her family, their servants and accompanying stories. Ladies' Home Journal continued printing paper dolls through 1948 by a variety of artists including Lucy Fitch Perkins and Gertrude Kay.

Good Housekeeping gave us Polly Pratt and her family and friends, also painted by Sheila Young, from 1919 to 1921. Grace Drayton's immensely popular Dolly Dingle appeared in Pictorial Review in March 1913, then again from 1916 to 1933, interrupted in 1926 by Peggy Pryde and friends and in 1925 and 1926 by the flappers Bonnie and Betty Bobbs. After Dolly came the lovely Polly and Peter Perkins series by Gertrude Kay in 1934.

Rose O'Neill coined the word "Kewpish," meaning "cute," and created her dear little cherubs called Kewpies, first as story pages and then as paper dolls. Introduced in Woman's Home Companion in 1912, they enjoyed huge popularity, remaining perhaps the most widely recognized of the antique paper dolls today. Throughout the 1920s other paper dolls and toys followed in Woman's Home Companion; Henry Anson Bart created his paper toys, dolls by fashion illustrator Emma Musselman, Frances Tipton Hunters' precious children paper dolls, and Katherine Share's paper dolls.

The fashion magazine The Delineator featured Carolyn Chester's charming series of three-dimensional wrap around dolls in 1912 and 1913. Paper dolls accompanied by toys, theaters and stories remained a regular feature through 1922 with interesting paper dolls and toys to inspire patriotism during World War 1.

Who doesn't know Betsy McCall, perhaps the best known magazine paper doll in America She came along after a long tradition of paper dolls in McCalls from 1904 to 1926, featuring the art of Jeremiah Crowley (animals and paper toys); Margaret Peckham, A.Z. Baker and Barbara Hale (Jack and Jill Twins); Mel Cummins (Teeny Town); Corrine Pauli; Percy Pierce (villages); the Haders (dolls and furniture); Norman Jacobsen (the Nipper series); and Nandor Hanti's (McCall Family series).

A sweet-faced Betsy McCall by Kay Morrissey debuted in 1951. Morrissey was followed by an unknown artist in 1955, then by Ginnie Hoffman in 1958. Betsy McCall modeled fashions that could be made with McCall's patterns while she enjoyed travels and activities all over the United States and beyond. Betsy has come and gone over the years from the 1960s to the 1990s with various changes in style, from the 1970s "mod" look to today's attractive, modern Betsy by Sue Shanahan.

There were a great number of other publications that produced paper dolls in one form or another; comic books, religious publications, children's magazines, etc.

Paper dolls are still plentiful even though the new paper dolls lack the feel, beautiful color and splendor and the vintage and antique paper dolls. If you are a vigilant shopper you can still find the vintage and antique paper dolls for a reasonable price. And remember... always keep a shoe box full of paper dolls and their clothes on hand to play with and admire with the young girls and boys in your life.

Are you ready to play with some paper dolls? Here is a link to print out some pretty dolls and play away -

I have some vintage and antique paper dolls that I will be putting in the shop soon too.



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