ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Doll Collecting

Updated on July 8, 2019
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen and her family have enjoyed collecting many things, including fans, clocks, books and shells.

History of Dolls

Dolls are one of the first toys that were made, way back in antiquity. They have even been found in Egyptian tombs from over 4,000 years ago. As well as being toys for children, dolls have been used in magic rites in many parts of the world.

Materials that dolls have been made of vary greatly, ranging from basic shapes made from rags, wood or clay, to very sophisticated models of teenagers and adults with movable limbs and beautiful clothes, or to baby dolls that blink, cry, talk, drink and wet their nappies.

At first, simple dolls were made individually, but as time went on they began to be mass-produced, usually using fabric, porcelain or plastic, or a combination of materials. Dolls that are now collected and most highly prized are usually ones that were made in Germany, where doll manufacturing began in the 1400s.

Daisy-Daisy, Home-made Wooden Doll
Daisy-Daisy, Home-made Wooden Doll | Source

My Collection: Daisy-Daisy

I did not intentionally set out to collect dolls, and I still don't. My collection just happened over the years and they became part of the family. Some survived, some I gave away, and some were discarded as I grew.

Although I had a teddy bear and a rabbit, the only remaining doll from my early years is Daisy-Daisy, named after a popular song at the time. During the Great Depression, my Grandfather, who began his working life as a carpenter and later became an architect, made me a wooden doll to teethe on. She looks a little scary, but I loved her, she was easy to grip and to chew on - and also made a good weapon at times for hitting relatives who tried to smother me with sloppy kisses and pinched my cheeks - quite painfully at times. Good old Gramps!

Little Black Princess
Little Black Princess | Source

The Little Black Princess

As I grew older, there was a range of rag dolls that both my Mother and her Mother made for me. They were usually bought ready printed onto calico, then cut out, sewn up and stuffed, usually with worn-out knitted woollen garments that had been cut into very small pieces. This meant that they would dry easily when washed. I remember that my sister had Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, two popular story-book characters that were made this way.

Tarlton Rayment, the very talented writer and traveller lived not far from us, and Mother was keen for us to learn about the original inhabitants of our land, so I was given his book, ' Prince of the Totem,' one year, and another year, 'The Little Black Princess.' At the same time I received a new doll that I named after the book. She still wears the dress Mother knitted for her, although it's a little moth-eaten now, and she's actually made of wood and moves at the shoulders and hips, so can sit.

An Older Version of the Ever Popular Baby Doll
An Older Version of the Ever Popular Baby Doll | Source

Baby Dolls

Over the years, my sister and I both received life-sized baby dolls that had eyes that opened and shut. They were mostly made of fabric and stuffed, but from the neck, elbows and knees were made of a composition that was solid and washable. Dad made me a cot for her and Grandma made a velvet pillow and bedding. We spent hours playing with our dolls and sewing and knitting new clothes for them. Mine went to my daughter when she had her first child.

Some of our friends had 'Wettums' dolls. They had tiny bottles that they fed to the dolls and the fluid came out the other end, so nappies needed changing.

Above is a baby doll that somehow did not get given away. She came in at time when dolls were being made with 'natural' expressions on their faces.

Tiny Welsh Souvenir
Tiny Welsh Souvenir | Source

Dolls as Souvenirs

When we lived overseas with our children, dolls in the national costume of the different countries made lovely souvenirs and were great for discussing the various places we visited together. I once had a whole cabinet of them, but most have been given away, although I still have the tiny Welsh doll (above) from our years living in the United Kingdom.

Some elegant dancers (below) are a memento of a holiday in Thailand and they remain, too.

Thai Souvenirs
Thai Souvenirs | Source

Taiwanese Funeral Dolls

During our years of living and working in Taiwan, we saw many funerals. They were quite grand occasions and could last for days. Tents were even set up across lesser streets where the mourners could gather, so we often needed to find a different route. At these funerals, a variety of gift were brought for the use of the deceased person in the after-life, including paper money, cardboard copies of TVs and cars, and even attractive dolls to amuse them.

Taiwanese Funeral Dolls
Taiwanese Funeral Dolls | Source

Knitted Dolls

Once, in an English magazine, I found knitting patterns for dolls and thought it would be fun to make one for each of us. The children were given theirs long ago, but I still have the ones I made of my husband and myself. I saw myself as a lady with grey hair and a bun, and knitting. However, I was hopeful with the grey hair - years later it's short and remains at the pepper-and-salt stage!

Well, I still knit - a 26 year-old granddaughter came visiting the other day; she crotchets beautifully, but wanted me to teach her to knit, so we had a lovely afternoon together.

Knitted Dolls
Knitted Dolls | Source

German Dolls

The German dolls are definitely the upper class of my collection.

Firstly, there is Matilda. I don't know what her original name was, as Dad brought her home when he was clearing out his old home after his parents had died.

She's lovely now, but was a bit sorry for herself when she arrived and had no clothes and no hair. During a visit to a Doll's Hospital, she was repaired and given a wig of real hair. Then I set to work making her clothes. She even has a corset with bone set into it and pants edged with lace that goes down to her knees. Her dress is made from a piece of my very first ball-gown and the lace was in my Grandmother's collection and may have been made by her on her lace pillow.

Matilda - From the late 1800s
Matilda - From the late 1800s | Source

Letitia Jane

Letitia Jane was my Grandmother's name and when I was given her doll I named her for Grandma. She, too, comes from the 1800s and was made in Germany.

I don't know exactly when my Grandma was given her, but Grandma was born in 1862 and married in 1889, so probably in the 1870s. Letitia has her original clothes, including her knee-length panties that tie at the waist (as my Grandmother's did, too, as elastic had not been invented then), her shoes and laces, the summer dress she is wearing, her maroon velvet bonnet and a matching draw-string bag, and some other clothes as well. However, she only has one petticoat, and my Grandma wore four in the winter; the bottom one was grey flannel.

So, you see, my collection is not very large when compared with some I have seen, but it is much loved. The only problem now is who to give them to as most of my thirteen grandchildren are girls!

Letita - from the Late 1800s; Original Summer Dress and Bonnet
Letita - from the Late 1800s; Original Summer Dress and Bonnet | Source

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)