During the Victorian period in England, peddlers and street vendors carrying an array of goods and notions in a basket or displayed on a tray traveled the city streets and rural roads offering bolts of lace and ribbon, sewing articles, costume jewelry, toys, and a wide of small inexpensive goods. It became a popular pastime for women and girls to dress a small doll as a peddler, typically a woman, and fill her little basket or tray with all sorts of marvelous miniature goods, some ingeniously homemade and others commercially created. The dolls were made from a wide variety of materials, such as wood, papier mache, china, or bisque and generally wore a cloak, a bonnet, a simple calico dress, and a white apron. When completed, the peddler doll or "notion nanny" often was displayed in a glass dome. Creating a notion nanny is still a popular theme for doll artists or a pastime for collectors, as it is a wonderful way to display a collection of miniatures. This wood peddler doll from the collection of Elaine Jackson was carved by doll artist Helen Bullard.
This is an antique notion nanny with a tray overflowing with tiny trinkets, many homemade from beads, paper, and bits of lace or ribbon. She typically sits under a hand blown glass dome. Her character head is papier mache and she has a crude jointed wooden body.
Many of her goods are still labeled with tiny homemade signs, such as this offering of "dressed dolls."