Most little girls hope to receive a doll for Christmas at least once in their lives. These days, they are increasingly human-like and could, in some extreme cases, be taken for a real baby. In fact, they were originally known as toy babies, and the word doll was used as a diminutive form of the name Dorothy. Although dolls have been around for centuries, many of them seemed more like ornaments than cuddly toys, with fancy dresses and lifeless eyes. I thought it might be fun to look at some of the dolls through history.
At first, dolls were often modelled on adults, with fancy wigs, glass eyes, and eyelashes made from human hair and were initially made from wood, clay, wax, or even ivory. During the 15th century, Germany was one of the most famous countries for toys, and dolls started to become quite popular as playthings. Usually made of wood, some even had moveable limbs. In 17th century Germany, the most popular dolls had wax heads attached to wooden or cloth bodies. During this period, many dolls were dressed in elaborate copies of the day’s fashion.
|By permission of Deutsche Fotothek|
Even today, some of the highest priced, and most sought after toys, are German bisque character dolls from the early 1900s, produced by Kammer and Reinhardt of Watterhausen. Using a very advanced design, their baby and toddler dolls were modeled on real children, with varying facial expressions. Bisque made dolls tended to look more realistic than glazed china porcelain.
It’s no wonder that dolls are often the subject of creepy films and stories, and I’m not overly surprised that my own daughter (who is now an imaginative writer), was never very fond of dolls as a child. Sometimes, they look a bit too realistic!