Vintage Paper Dolls

Vintage Paper Dolls

I am sure the older readers will remember the frustration of having a gift of a paper doll and her accessories which, after being played with only three or four times, found the tabs fixing the clothing to the doll had broken off, leaving the doll useless. 

We are, therefore, fortunate to have a number of these paper dolls, and other paper and card figures, etc. in museums because their 'life' span must have been usually short lived.

It is surprising to find that, not only were some of these paper dolls made as early as the late seventeen and early eighteen hundreds, but were popular in many countries of the world, including the U.S.A., Japan, Britain, France and Germany.

Vintage Paper Dolls

They were manufactured in many thousands and covered an enormous range of qualities and sizes from quite inexpensive sets to many elaborate ones.

Their design also varies from the aforementioned, where the paper on card doll was usually presented in her underwear and her dresses, etc., had paper tabs which bent over her shoulders, to others where the front and back of the outfit was joined at the shoulders then bent to stand up. Interchangeable heads had a long neck which would be pushed up through a slot between the shoulders.

The quality of the French paper doll sets was very high, as was that of most of their toys, whilst the German and some British paper doll sets were often printed in Bavaria, presumably to save cost. Frequently, paper sets were included in womens magazines, to be removed for play by cutting around a dotted line and these were either issued as a free gift - to help sell the magazine - or to advertise the product.

Vintage Paper Dolls

The British firm of Raphael Tuck was well-known for its prolific output of paper doll sets and other printed paper items.

These companies brought out endless sets of paper dolls and clothing, such as British Royalty, Christmas and Pantomime figures, stage and film personalities to name but a few.

Raphael Tuck also brought out a lovely calendar where the doll holds out her flared skirt, each section representing a month of the year.

 Another well-known British firm was J.W. Spear and Sons, whose products were excellent and very varied and again, used a Bavarian printers.

Vintage Paper Dolls

The Americans were also very enthusiastic about paper and card dolls, though the bigger surge seems to have been |a little later, in the early to late nineteen hundreds.

A quite different style was brought out by the 'Pittsburg Sunday  Leader, Paper Doll Fashions.' Printed instructions told one to cut along the dotted line with sharp scissors and fold.

As some readers will know, there are many paper doll sets available today. Some reproductions of the early issues and others of much later and up- to-date characters.

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