Vintage Dolls

Hello Hello, hope you are all well and having a wonderful summer.

Today I want to share something that caught my eye at a county historical museum. For those of you who have visited these small museums, you know they usually contain lots of farm implements, old cars and trucks, antique furniture and housewares. Harland and I joke that the three items that will also be found are barbed wire collections, two-headed calves or pigs, and hair wreaths. Not sure exactly why, but we almost always see these items when we visit a county museum.

Anywho, on a recent road trip we stopped at the Barton County Historical Society Museum in Great Bend, Kansas.

While purusing the antique furniture, old dental and doctor implements, and wedding dress collection, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks:   An entire room dedicated to vintage dolls.

Whoa….

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Endless cases full of old dolls of every size from tiny frozen charlottes only a few inches high,

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to this enormous bisque doll about 3 feet tall,

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Most of the dolls were a foot to 18 inches high.

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This one below needs to go to the orthodontist, poor thing:

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This one in the light blue dress (below) is my favorite.

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The doll below is wearing my favorite outfit. Looks like she’s ready for a trip in her suit and straw hat:

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Most of the dolls were bisque (late 1800s) like the ones above, and a few were china heads (1850-1860s), below:

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And then there was this sad one, below:

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Her body and clothing appeared to be made entirely of felt. I have no idea how old she is,but she sure is cute.

My mom collects dolls and has a few bisques and china heads. I remember I used to love looking at them when I was a child, but we weren’t allowed to touch them, of course. As delicate as these are, it’s pretty amazing that any of them survived to make it into a museum.

Give a shout out if you or your ancestors have any dolls like these. Share your memories of them with us!

Have a great day!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxo

11 comments to Vintage Dolls

  • Glenda

    There was an old doll that Mom kept in a box that for a short time was allowed to drape across our made bed propped up against the pillows with her skirt flared out all around. She had a cloth body and her dress was silky with lace trim. Her hair was dark red or brown and long. I don’t remember what happened to the doll or anything else about it.
    I think if you look at those doll faces long enough it gets a bit spooky.
    Glad you enjoyed.

  • My Grandma had two antique dolls with China heads/faces that were fun to play with when I was a little girl. They were sold at her sale for quite a lot of money. I wish I knew who bought them!

  • My great-grandmother had several dolls like these. The one I remember most was one with a china head that her mother had made for her in the mid-1880s. When I was a little girl she didn’t have enough money to pay her real estate taxes and so had to sell them so she wouldn’t lose her house. I thought that was really sad. I wish I still had the china doll.

  • I remember getting one of those tiny bisque dolls at a carnival once. My dad bought it for me. It was the year I got a string of green glass beads, and my very own cone of cotton candy.

    What stopped me was the third picture, of the very large doll. It’s the dress. My mother made my clothes, and my dollies’ clothes, and often made matching outfits for us. I had a dress made of that very fabric, and a Terry Lee doll clothed to match. I can’t even tell you what it felt like to see that photo! It’s hard to say if it’s the same kind of fabric, but the pattern’s exactly right. And the fabric does look like the crisp cotton that I remember.

    I was in Great Bend on my last trip, but my camera had died, so I only made a panic-stricken trip into Walmart to see if I could find an inexpensive replacement. If I get there again, I’ll visit!

  • Jeanne

    WOWZA!! Those are simply amazing! Someone must have had a huge collection. Funny isn’t it, how so many old dolls had such oddly shaped faces. I rather like the little sad faced one, but your favorite is very pretty. Thanks for sharing!!
    My “old” doll only dates to the early 1940s. Poor girl isn’t in very good shape from spending time in the hot attic, where my mother stored her.

  • Devona

    Hi Suzanne … I always look forward to your posts! I love dolls and find the felt doll quite interesting … Indeed, there is tremendous skill involved in crafting any of these vintage dolls. Thanks for sharing!

  • JMart

    What a fabulous collection of dolls and a great topic for comments, Suzanne!! Actually, I do have a bisque doll that belonged to a great aunt. We call her Miss Baird. None of my granddaughters is interested in this doll at all and the youngest is downright scared of it.

    I love those county museums and historical societies. When my daughter was living in Kansas as a new Army wife, we visited the Geary County Museum. It’s always good to know a little bit of history even if you are only there for a short time. The Custer House at Ft. Riley was interesting as well.

    Back to the dolls: I’m partial to the gal with the pearls. She has spunk!!

    Janet

  • JB

    My favorite is the “sad” doll. A lot of the faces on the old dolls were just scary! My sister still has my dad’s boy doll from 1914-1915. We have not known what to do with it but maybe it should be donated to a museum like this.

  • Lorraine

    The older I get the more the dolls creep me out. I do like the bisque ones and that sad little doll is adorable. I admire the clothing. All that work someone put into for a doll. The clothing is very pretty especially the hats. Its just those eyes….. Now I had dolls as a girl but nothing like that. I gave away my dolls when we moved to our first home. I have to be serious for a moment, I wish I had my first dolls back though.

    Thanks for sharing and as always it’s nice to hear from you.

  • rebecca

    This post has awakened in me, a love for vintage dolls. Love the little ones that are only “inches” tall! I’ll start with them. Then I’ll want one or two doll babies!
    Thanks Suzanne!
    Florida hugs,
    Becca

  • Dear Suzanne,
    I loved seeing those old dolls. If you go to the Theriault’s auction website you can learn a lot about dolls from their old catalogues. That sad felt doll was probably made by an Italian company called Lenci. Each doll is like the Velveteen rabbit. She has had a long life . Lots of those dolls were made in Germany or France and were very expensive in their day. Girls treasured their one special doll and took special care to clothe and care for them. A breakable doll traveling by coach, wagon, or railroad and riverboat could tell a story!
    Hugs from south central Los Angeles, Ellen

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