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Volume 6  Issue 3

Dolls date back almost to the beginning of time and the existence of little girls. None have been found from prehistoric times, but they have been found in Egyptian tombs as far back as 2000 B.C. and a fragment of an alabaster doll with movable arms from the Babylonian period was found. They were quite simple, usually made of wood, clay, bone, or fur. Some were found to be made of ivory or wax. Dolls made with moveable limbs and removeable clothes can be dated to 600 B.C., making them to appear as life-like as possible.Dolls from Egyptian graves were found to be made of flat pieces of wood decorated with various designs and strings of clay or wooden beads for the hair. Dolls made of pottery were found in Egyptian tombs indicating they were prized possessions. Dolls were also found in Greek and Roman children's graves. Once the Greek and Roman girls were too grownup to play with dolls, they were dedicated to goddesses. Europe became a major producer of dolls. They were primarily made of wood. Less than 30 stump dolls have been found from the 16th and 17th century from England. Wooden peg dolls from the Grodnertal area of Germany were produced with peg joints resembling a clothespin. In the 1800s a composition of pulped wood or paper was used to make doll heads and bodies. The mixtures were molded under pressure, making a doll that could be mass produced. The makers were highly secretive of the recipes for their mixtures. Sometimes they used ingredients such as ash or eggshells. Papier-mache was one of the most popular uses for making dolls. Wax dolls were produced in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although Munich was a major producer of wax dolls, some of the wax dolls were made in England between 1850 and 1930. A doll head would be modeled in wax or clay. Then plaster would be used to create a mold from the head. Melted wax would be poured into the cast. In the early 18th century, in England, a baby doll was made from wax. It was one of the first known dolls that portrayed a baby. The beginning of the 19th century began the use of porcelain. Germany, France, and Denmark began making china heads for dolls in the 1840s. In the 1860's, heads made of china were replaced with those made of bisque. Bisque, appeared to have more life-like skin than china did. The French "bebe" doll was first made in the 1850s. It is highly sought after today. It was unique because it depicted a young girl instead of an adult, which was a common representation at the time. The French doll artistry was much better than the German bisque doll. But the German doll became more popular because they were not as expensive. In the 1900s's, Kammer & Reinhardt produced a bisque doll which began creating realistic dolls. A much loved doll that has been produced by mothers for their children is the rag doll. It is sometimes a child's first doll. They were made from any type of fabric, but usually from cotton or linen. They were first mass produced by English and American manufacturers in the 1850's. After the Civil War doll production began in New England. They were made from leather, rubber, papier-mache, or cloth. Celluloid was used in the manufacture of dolls until the mid-1950s. German, French, American, and Japanese factories were able to produce inexpensive celluloid dolls in great quantities until celluloid was found to be highly flammable. By the 1940's hard plastic dolls began to be manufactured. They resembled composition dolls, but were much more durable. During the 1950's and 1960's, rubber, foam rubber, and vinyl was used. The use of vinyl allowed makers to root hair into the head, instead of using wigs or painting the hair. Human hair and mohair have been used in the past for the doll's hair and the facial features were handpainted. Doll collecting has become one of the most popular hobbies in the United States. Since the antique dolls are so very expensive, even the newer modern dolls are now becoming popular as collectibles. Condition is the main factor of doll collecting. For a doll to be considered in "excellent condition", it must have all the original parts, a wig that is not soiled, restyled, or matted. The skin should not be soiled; no marks or blemishes. All mechanical parts should be in working condition(sleepy eyes, etc.). It should have the original clothing. The shoes, socks, dress, and under- pants should be in excellent condition and clean. If it is a bisque or porcelain doll, there should be no chips, cracks, or hairlines. The marks of the manufacturers can be found at the back of the head or neck or on the doll's back. The marks will help in identifying the doll and the date of manufacture. To view some examples of French and German antique dolls: Antique Dolls For collectible modern dolls: Modern Dolls RESOURCES: The Connecticut Doll Artists Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide - 8th Edition Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide - 32nd Edition Garage Sale & Flea Market Annual-3rd Edition Schroeder's Antiques Price Guide-18th edition

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