Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Paper Dolls

When I was a youngun', well we didn't have a lot of money, but I do remember my Chatty Cathy doll... that my little brother broke, thank you very much.... and my 1960's bubble head Barbie doll that I still have. She came with about three outfits, the rest I made... yeah, way back then, by hand, before my first sewing machine! So needless to say, the rest of my dolls resorted to paper dolls. I begged my ma for my first paper doll book and spent endless hours meticulously cutting out the dolls and outfits, making sure not to mess up those fold over tabs! Even back then I just knew I could make more outfits, so being resourceful, I started drawing my own paper dolls, outfits and accessories. For nostalgic purposes, I wish I still had those simple little dolls that gave me hours of joy.

So just how far back do paper dolls go? Well, in Europe, the production of paper dolls began as far back as the 1790's! The dolls were illustrated with their underclothes and pasted on cardboard to strengthen them and came with hats and dresses. The joints were connected by threads to the body so the limbs could move in different positions by manipulating a thread attached in the back.


Between 1810 and 1816, the London toy novelty firm, S & J Fuller, produced a series of books that came with a paper doll and hand-colored outfits. The early paper doll clothes didn't come with folding tabs like they have today, but were attached with tiny drops of non-greasy beeswax. The Fuller design was different than the dolls of the 1790's, having only a head and neck instead of a full body. The neck served as a tab that slid into slots in the back of the outfits. The small books told stories in verse, centered on a character represented by the paper doll. The character wore a specific outfit in each episode of the verse and as the book was read, the doll would be dressed in the appropriate outfit. The books would often tell morality tales aimed at children. Little Fanny was the first of these dolls.

In the mid-19th century, America entered the paper doll manufacturing arena. Crosby, Nichols & Company of Boston printed the first paper doll in the United States in 1854 titled “Fanny Gray: A History of Her Life. She was packaged in an elegant lithographed box with six figures, a wooden base to stand the figures and a booklet of moral verses. Included was The Cottage where Fanny Lived, Fanny Selling Matches, Fanny a Flower Girl,Fanny Her Uncle’s Pet, Fanny with Her Kitten, and Fanny Feeding Chickens.

The first American book on paper doll making, Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, A Book for Little Girls, was published by Anson D. F. Randolph in 1856. It included hand-colored plates of dolls and clothing for children to cut out and play.

During the Victorian era, the November 1859 issue of Godey's Lady's Book, was the first magazine publishing a series of paper dolls, six boys and six girls, each with a set of fashions. Below are copies of pages from that book.




Prior to the 1880's, the paper dolls and outfits were colored by hand and because paper was so expensive, not in everyone's budget. But after paper became more affordable, and hand coloring was replaced by the less expensive color printed paper, just about every child would have access to these coveted toys.

Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine also published pages of dolls with hand-colored costumes in 1866, and this collection included the front and back of the dolls with their outfits. By the end of the 19th century, advertisers used paper doll popularity to help sell their crackers, thread, coffee, etc. They also did front and back printing of the dolls and outfits which were slipped over their heads.

By the beginning of the 20th century, department stores realized paper dolls were the ideal fashion advertisement. They featured specially designed dolls promoting the latest fashions. They appeared in such magazines as Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, and Good Housekeeping, to name a few.

Paper dolls have featured fictional characters from books and newspaper comics, animals, well known and famous people. They have advertised anything and everything from coffee to fashions; there are paper doll clubs and organizations; but most of all, the enjoyment of children across time with these simple creations is priceless.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

* 12 Days of Christmas Ornie Winners *

Santa's been digging in his big 'ol sack and picking winners for the wonderful ornies donated by WSOAPP artisans. Here they are!

Rabbit Hollow Prims -
Gollywobbles - Nancy from NY
Sweet Magnolias Farm - Cathy from ILL
Aunt Manny's Creations - Joyce
My Raggedy Dollhouse - Doris from TX
Ro's Cluttered Attic - Lea from TN
Barefoot Primitives -
Cedar Hill Rustics -
My Tiny Studio -
Vintage Keepsake Trunk -
Love You Cherishables - De from WA
Cre8ors Touch -
Oak Hollow Primitives - Karla from Florida


Now, there are a few winners that have not contacted the artists yet, so check your email!