Children’s Christmas > Victorian Dolls

Posted On October 21, 2006

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VICTORIAN DOLLS > from Harper’s Bazar, December 31, 1881.

“The eating doll is the novelty with which girls are delighted this year. A bit of candy is put in her open mouth, disappears, and comes out at the sole of her foot. Another new doll has music within herself, so that when wound she raises her hands and seems to sing. A third novelty, more valued for its durability than beauty, has the doll head cut from a solid piece of wood, and this wooden head can he banged about without breaking. The head moves, and the body, which is also of wood, is painted as the fine French dolls are ; and some of these wooden dolls say “Mamma” and “Papa.” In small sizes, such dolls, without the speaking attachment, are $1.25, and these are chosen for children whose bump of destructiveness is large. The well-known indestructible heads, with short hair of sheep’s wool that will wash and comb, are made with prettier faces than when first introduced.”

“Brown-eyed dolls are in great favor this season, especially among the bisque dolls, that were formerly all blue in eyed. The tiny doll entirely of bisque, with natural long blonde hair, eyes that open and close, and jointed limbs, is a favorite with little girls who do not think size everything; and these cost from 65 cents upward.”

“Mothers who want to teach their children correct ideas select each part of the doll with care, and have each article of clothing well made, so that it can be taken off and put on. First, the doll’s head is selected. This may be of the composition said to be indestructible, and with short blonde curly hair of wool that is easily cleansed, and will cost from 30 cents to $2, according to size; or else it may be of French bisque, with eyes that are fixed or with movable eyes, and hair of wool, but most natural-looking. These range from 70 cents upward, and among the more expensive heads are those with Titian red hair and brown eyes, or else golden yellow hair with a bang on the forehead and flowing behind. The wax heads are most varied of all and most natural-looking, but most perishable. They are shown as infants with bald heads or a scant bang, to wear caps; as short-haired boys, with Charles II flowing locks; and as ladies with elaborate coiffures.”

“The body is then chosen of either muslin or kid, and must be made up without wires, and stuffed with cotton to make it light, instead of the heavy sawdust that sifts through the cover. They can also be bought with the crying arrangement inside. The muslin bodies cost from 30 cents upward; those of kid are more expensive.”

“Mother Hubbard dolls are favorites this season, and as this consists in dressing them in a shirred cloak of cashmere or satin, with a poke bonnet or steeple-crowned hat of the same, they are easily gotten up at home. The imported dolls come elaborately arrayed in plush and satin costumes, but tasteful little girls prefer instead a doll dressed in the first short clothes with white muslin yoke dresses, skirts, and petticoats that may be taken off and put on, and over this a Mother Hubbard hard cloak, with hat to match. Every article of clothing may be bought separately for the doll, including rubber overshoes and hair-pins, and there are boxes with three or four different sets of clothing for the doll inmate.”

“Infant dolls in long clothes are accompanied by a furnished basket, and are completely dressed in white muslin, with a sash, and a cloak of white cashmere with double cape and quilted silk border. A colored nurse or a French bonnet with a cap can also be supplied.”

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