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Vintage Paper Dolls of the 1970s

Updated on July 8, 2013

A Brief History of The Paper Doll

Paper dolls have played a role in many a young girl's childhood. I, myself spent many happy hours playing with these charming toys. While paper dolls are still in production, they do not seem as prevelent as they were in the 1970s and 80's. Today there are many free, virtual paper dolls sites, that while I don't think they have quite the charm of the paper dolls of yesteryear, are still lots of fun!

Paper dolls have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. Here in the United States, The Mcloughlin Brothers, were considered the largest producer of paper dolls in the 1800's. Eventually, in the 1920s Mcloughlin Brothers sold to Milton Bradley. At this time, these dolls really began to gain popularity in the United States.

Good Housekeeping and McCalls featured paper dolls,on and off, in their magazines from the early 1900s, clear up until the 1990s. Polly Pratt and Betsy McCall are two of the more well known dolls from these magazines. Paper dolls have also been featured in various children's magazines, newspapers and comic books.

A Look At the Paper Dolls of the 1970s

For myself, being born in 1972, I was enamored with these little dolls and their treasury of clothes. One of the best things about these toys, was in the fact that they were not terribly expensive. I could ask my parents for a new paper doll book at least once a month and they would usually indulge me. This is in contrast to regular Barbie dolls, which I also liked, but would only receive as a birthday or Christmas present. So, as you can imagine, I had quite a collection back then. The paper dolls I have now are not my originals, unfortunately none of my original dolls made it through my childhood!


There were innumerable Barbie paper dolls available when I was child, often they would copy the popular, full size dolls on the market at that time. The first paper doll that I remember having was Boutique Barbie. The value of this doll runs between $10.00 and $20.00 for an uncut doll in good condition. When collecting paper dolls, keep in mind that uncut will generally bring the highest price. Though dolls that have been cut out can still sell for a pretty penny, plus you can play with cut ones a little bit, if you like!

Barbie Boutique
Barbie Boutique
Digging those retro clothes!!
Digging those retro clothes!!

Though, as I mentioned before, uncut is the most desirable condition for collectible paper dolls, the one doll, that is part of my own personal collection worth the most money, is a cut doll. The boxed Quick Curl Barbie paper doll must be getting rather hard to find, as I have seen this doll listed, cut condition, for as much as $35.00 on Ebay. I paid around $15.00 for my doll, though she is not in the best condition.

Quick Curl Barbie Paper Doll
Quick Curl Barbie Paper Doll | Source
Loving the different hair styles!
Loving the different hair styles! | Source


Of course, anything Disney is highly collectible, and paper dolls are no exception. Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Snow White and Alice in Wonderland were all part of the Disney collection in the 1970s. I have a Disney Donald and Daisy paper doll book, that I paid $8.00 for on Ebay, a few years ago. I have seen this one go as high as $13.00. The one doll I would dearly love to have is the 1972 Snow White paper doll, which I have generally seen listed at around $20.00.

Donald and Daisy Paper doll
Donald and Daisy Paper doll | Source

A Few Personal Favorites

Of course, Barbie and Disney brand dolls were not the only paper dolls popular in the 1970s. There were many other types of paper dolls, some fashioned after popular baby dolls, and popular TV shows of the time; think Brady Brunch. A few others that I remember fondly were Demin Deb and Jean Jeans, both sporting their best bell bottoms, as well other vintage '70's styles.

The Ginghams

These dolls, which came onto the scene in 1976, are a personal favorite of mine. Through the later '70's several books and sets featuring The Gingham Girls were published. True to their name, the four little girls featured in this collection were always dressed in old-fashioned, gingham dresses. These dolls are not the easiest to come across, especially in an uncut condition. The two sets I have are quite worn and I paid about $5.00 for each. I am hoping to eventually have the entire collection.

The Gingham's Paper Dolls
The Gingham's Paper Dolls | Source
Katie's play set
Katie's play set | Source
Sarah's play set
Sarah's play set | Source

Being a Wyoming girl it should not be any surprise that this Yellowstone Kelley Paper Doll is my absolute favorite! The doll, published in 1975 was one of my favorites to play with when I was little; it was also the first one I purchased when I decided to start collecting. She is valued between $10.00 and $20.00 in uncut, good condition.

Yellowstone Kelley Paper Doll
Yellowstone Kelley Paper Doll | Source
Note the awesome camping stove, and frying pan.
Note the awesome camping stove, and frying pan. | Source

A Final Note on Collecting

By no means, is this a definative guide to paper dolls of the 1970s, I just wanted to highlight a few of the more popular ones in my collection. When collecting or selling, be sure to comparision shop, both Ebay and Etsy are good sources, but there are other websites that should looked into, as well.

I keep my uncut dolls in sealed plastice bags, which I guess, in a way is rather sad. But occasionally, in a fit of nostagia, I will bring them out, look through them and smile.


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