Porcelain Dolls

Many historians have traced the origins of the doll have back by to the religious rites of many primitive societies. Evidence of the link between the doll and religious rites found in ancient Greek literature, girls were observed making clothes for their dolls and then offering their valued playthings to the nymphs or to Artemis at the time of their engagement for marriage. Further evidence noted by another historian, who found that the Hopi Indians when at the conclusion of any ceremonial rites gave, their dolls to their children to play with. However historians found that as these primitive beliefs faded, the importance of the doll decline in importance and the result of this being, dolls were more and more handed down to children as playthings.

All these early dolls were probably made from very primitive materials such as clay, fur, or wood. Unfortunately no dolls have survived from prehistoric times, although a fragment of an alabaster doll with movable arms from the Babylonian period has been recovered. Ancient dolls have been found in children's graves from Egypt, Greece. Dolls that had been constructed of flat pieces of wood, painted with various designs and with strings of clay or wooden beads to depict hair, have been found in Egyptian graves dating back to 2000 BC. This leads us to believe that because Dolls were placed in the graves of these ancient people they were indeed cherished possessions.

Early European Doll History

Following the era of the ancient dolls. Europe became a major hub for doll production. These dolls were made of wood. Primitive wooden stump dolls from 16th and 17th century England have been found. The Grodnertal area of Germany produced many peg wooden dolls, a type of doll that has very simple peg joints and resembles a clothespin. Eventually an alternative to wood was developed. This was called Composition it is a collective term for mixtures of pulped wood or paper that was used to make doll heads and bodies. These mixtures were molded under pressure, creating a durable doll that could be mass-produced.

Manufacturers closely guarded the recipes for their mixtures, sometimes using strange ingredients like ash or eggshells. Papier-m?ch?, a type of composition, was one of the most popular mixtures. Doll heads were also made of wood, terra cotta, alabaster, and wax.
Wax dolls were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Munich was a major manufacturing center for wax dolls, but some of the most distinctive wax dolls were created in England between 1850 and 1930. Wax modelers would model a doll head in wax or clay, and then use plaster to create a mold from the head. Then they would pour melted wax into the cast. The wax for the head would be very thin, no more than 3 mm. One of the first dolls that portrayed a baby was made in England from wax at the beginning of the 19th century.

Around 1820, glazed porcelain doll heads and unglazed bisque (ceramic) heads became much more popular. A bisque doll made by the French Jumeau family in the 1860s had a swivel neck; the body was made of kid-covered wood or wire or of kid leather, which was stuffed with sawdust. This type of doll manufacture remained common until it was replaced with molded plastics in the 20th century. Porcelain is used generically to refer to both china and bisque dolls. Germany, France, and Denmark started creating china heads for dolls in the 1840s. Heads made of bisque in the 1860s replaced China heads. Bisque, which is fired twice with color added to it after the first firing, looked more like skin than china did.

The French “bebe”

The French “bebe” was made popular in the 1850s, and it has become a highly sought after doll today. The bebe, first made in the 1850s, was unique from its predecessors because it depicted the form of a younger girl. Until this time most dolls were representations of adults.

German Bisque

Although the French dolls became unrivaled in their artistry, German bisque dolls became quite as popular because they were not as expensive as the French dolls. Kammer & Reinhardt revolutionized doll making in the 1900’s by introducing a bisque character doll, starting a trend of creating realistic dolls.

The American doll industry

Doll making did not become a intense industry in the United States until after the Civil War in the 1860s. Doll production became mainly concentrated in New England, with dolls that were made from a variety of materials such as leather, rubber, papier-m?ch?, and cloth.

Celluloid Dolls

Celluloid was developed in New Jersey in the late 1860s It provided a cheap way to manufacture and mass produce dolls. It was popular in New Jersey until the mid-1950s. German, French, American, and Japanese factories churned out cheaply produced celluloid dolls in mass quantities. However, celluloid fell out of favor because of its extreme flammability and propensity to fade in bright light.

Porcelain Dolls Today

Porcelain dolls provide great pleasure for many collectors. The modern doll provides great variation in type, from baby dolls to youngsters to adult form dolls.