Member Betty Birdsong did a program on paper dolls. She said that antique and vintage paper dolls are less expensive than their three-dimensional counterparts, are easy to store and transport, and illustrate both the history of fashion and printing. Bette told the club that prior to the 1800, paper were handmade or engraved and hand colored. Such dolls were sold precut, as scissors were costly. In the 1800's, less expensive printing technology allowed paper dolls to be sold in uncut sheets. In 1863 McLoughlin Brothers, followed by Raphael Tuck and Sons in 1866, began to mass produce paper dolls with a wide variety of colorful costumes, including foreign and and fairytale dolls. By the end of the 1800's, paper dolls were showing up in newspapers and as promotional items on products such as cereal boxes and coffee cans. Children also created their own paper dolls by cutting people out of magazines and drawing their own wardrobes.
McLoughlin and Tuck offered dolls on thicker pasteboard with beautifully printed outfits and accessories.
Bette has this terrific trousseau of early doll dresses, but is still looking for the paper doll that wore them.
This book by famed illustrator Frances Brundage dates from 1920.
Many women's magazines included pages of paper dolls to encourage sales. Betty Bonnet appeared in Ladies Home Journal in the 1910s.
McCall's first offered Betsy McCall in 1951.
The Dennison Manufacturing Company prompted its crepe and tissue paper products by selling jointed paper dolls with three-dimensional crepe paper clothing. This little girl comes with pre-printed outfits, but the dolls were also offered sheets of colorful crepe paper and patterns so that children could create their own costumes.
New printing technology made paper dolls even more affordable. Stores like F. W. Woolworth offered inexpensive paper dolls books. Companies such as Saalfield Publishing Company, the Werner Publishing Company, and Whitman Publishing created a wide variety of paper dolls.
By the 1920's, paper doll books began to feature movie stars such as Shirley Temple, as well as celebrities like the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. In the 1940's paper dolls of Claudette Colbert, July Garland, Ava Gardner, Betty Gable, Rita Hayworth, and Elizabeth Taylor were popular. However, with the introduction of inexpensive hard plastic dolls in the 1950s and Barbie in 1959, little girls began to lose interest in paper dolls. Paper dolls were still produced in the 1960s, typically based on television shows such as Dr. Kildare and the Beverly Hillbillies. A nostalgia craze in the 1970s resulted in reproductions of antique paper dolls, but these copies could not reproduce the high quality of the original printing process.
Member Elaine Jackson supplemented her March program on Schoenhut dolls. The standing doll is by Schoenhut, but although the seated doll at first glance also appears to be from this company, it was in fact made in 1919 by Giebeler-Falk Doll Corporation in the United States and has an aluminum head. Like Schoenhut, Giebeler-Falk advertised its dolls as the unbreakable alternative to fragile bisque doll heads.