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My Vintage International Doll Collection

Updated on February 14, 2018
LiteraryMind profile image

I love the look and feel of vintage and antique items. My collections contain quite a few beautiful items that I enjoy sharing.

Vintage Doll Collection
Vintage Doll Collection | Source

Sharing My Vintage Doll Collection

My vintage doll collection is comprised mostly of dolls I was given as a child.

It started when my aunts travelled; they would bring back a souvenir doll. When I started to travel, I purchased dolls on my trips.

Many of these vintage dolls are different and I hope to let everyone see and share in something not commonly seen.

What good is having a doll collection is everyone can't see it and enjoy it?

Can Can Dancer Doll From Paris

Parisian Can-Can Doll - 1950's
Parisian Can-Can Doll - 1950's | Source

This doll was purchased in the early 1950s in Paris.

Her left foot is fixed to a pedestal and her right foot and arms swing freely. Of course as a child, I would kick up her leg and make her do the can-can. I am surprised she is in as good condition as she appears.

Her dress is made of pink satin ribbons separated by black lace. She has black lace stockings.

The French Word for Doll is.....


A Vintage Souvenir Doll From Italy - One Of My Aunts Brought This Back From Italy In The 1950's

Italian Doll From Sorrento
Italian Doll From Sorrento | Source

It's a souvenir doll from Sorrento.

What amazed me about this doll is that a lot of her accessories, including her earring are stuck on with straight (common) pins. Probably, not the safest toy for a child. I wonder if today, this is still done with souvenir dolls.

The Italian word for doll is....


Vintage German Souvenir Doll - My mother bought this at a tag sale

German-Doll | Source

I read an article that indicated these dolls were produced during the 1940s for soldiers to bring back to America as souvenirs.

This vintage doll is made of a composite material. She has a straw hat with red pompoms.

The German word for doll is...........


Skookum Dolls

Skookum Doll
Skookum Doll | Source

These were purchased by my parents on their honeymoon in 1942 in upstate New York.

Skookum dolls were dressed in Native American type dress, however, they were not made by Native Americans

Earlier Skookum dolls have dried apple faces, these have composition or plastic faces.


Here's a little bit different Native American Dolls - Purchased in Arizona in the 1980s

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View through the loom at a woman weavingA close up through the loomA view from behind the woman weaving.A view of her papoose.
View through the loom at a woman weaving
View through the loom at a woman weaving
A close up through the loom
A close up through the loom
A view from behind the woman weaving.
A view from behind the woman weaving.
A view of her papoose.
A view of her papoose.

The Skookum dolls were from Upstate New York -- this is home to Onandaga, Huron, Cuyuga, Seneca and Iroquois.

The Weaving Dolls was purchased in Arizona, home to Pueblos, Acama, Suna Navajo and Apache.

If you know the translation, please let me know. I like to provide my readers with as much information as possible.

The Native American Word for "Doll"

I searched for information on the what the Native American's would call a doll. A reader offered that the Navajo word for doll is "awééshchíín".

I believe languages vary between Native American tribes, other tribes may have other words for doll.

Vintage Banana Leaf Doll - From Bermuda?

Banana Leaf Doll
Banana Leaf Doll | Source

Banana Leaf Doll

This is probably the doll that I have the owned longest; early 1950s. One of my aunts brought it back from her travels and it was in my mother's china cabinet when I was a toddler. From time to time, my mother would let me hold her.

She is made of banana leaves and has a nut for a head. She used to have a purse.

When this article was first published, I asked for information on my banana leaf doll.

Here are some of my reader's comments which are so very helpful

From an anonymous reader 1:

My friend Ronnie Chameau in Bermuda makes banana leaf dolls...Oprah Winfrey owns one,and i think one is in the White House! She makes exquisite Christmas angels out of banana leaf as well.I don't think this is one of hers,or the older lady Mrs Gleeson who has passed away now from Bermuda.You could look up Ronnie on the web and find out more about her.Maybe the people in the west indies do these dolls as well.

From anonymous reader 2:

Hi. My great aunt, Marie Gleeson made dolls like these. She had a little shop in St.George's and I'd go there sometimes with my mom and watch her braid the little hats and baskets. i have one that looks a little more sophisticated than yours , with basket and umbrella. She'd dye little dried flowers and seeds and decorate the doll with them. The tag on mine says "I come from Bermuda, the Isles of Sunshine. I'm dressed in banana and native screw pine." I have a Ronnie Chameau doll also, they're lovely.

A response to anonymous reader 2 from anonymous reader 3:

I have one of Marie Gleeson's banana dolls, and she has a small pale green label attached with the words "I come from Bermuda, the Isles of Sunshine. I'm dressed in banana and native screw pine". She is almost 13" tall, dressed in a long skirt with a cape-like shawl that has a lovely woven border and a colourful corsage. She is wearing a lovely lacy straw hat decorated with flowers, and has dark brown palm fibre hair and a pretty face painted on a walnut. She is carrying a beautiful woven basket that contains small coloured seeds. She belonged to my mother Muriel "Bubbles" Gauntlett (1908-2009).

A Video on Banana Leaf Dolls

Thanks to John McGill, I believe we have solved the mystery of the origin of the banana leaf doll.

His friend Ronnie in Bermuda makes them now.

Mom and Pop Dolls from Pennsylvania, USA - Lancaster, PA. - Pennsylvania Dutch

Pennsylvania-Dutch-Dolls | Source

These are from the Lancaster/Pennsylvania Dutch area of Pennsylvania.

My family took a trip there when I was a child and we picked these up. This was in the late 1950s.

We were told that the woman makes the dolls and and their costumes and her husband makes the rocking chairs. Originally, she made them with dried apple faces, however, so many people complained that they did not last, that she changed her method. Instead, she made a mold of the dried apple faces and cast these faces.

Their arms are pipe cleaners and their hair is cotton balls.

Boy and Girl Sakura Dolls from Japan - These are my favorite vintage dolls

Sakura Dolls
Sakura Dolls | Source

My Mom took me to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, during the 1950s. The girl doll was purchased in their gift shop.

A few years later, my school class took a trip to the Museum of Natural History and I was lucky enough to find the little boy dolls.

I love their costumes and the colors and when you press their chest, they squeak. Their heads are bisque and their bodies are plastic or composite.

Protect and preserve the beauty of your dolls by keeping them in and enclosed cabinet, out of direct sunlight.

Chinese Lady Doll


This is a newer doll from China. This was a gift from friends of mine who visited Epcot Center in Florida. There was a display there from China. She is from the 1990s.

Mexican Flower Vendor Doll - Cheerful and bright

Mexican Doll Made of Paper
Mexican Doll Made of Paper | Source

I bought this on a trip to Mexico in the 1980s. She is made of heavy paper and the flowers are a light weight paper, maybe tissue paper.

I love her bright colors.

The Spanish word for doll is...........


Which doll is your favorite and why?

See results

© 2011 Ellen Gregory

Comments Are So Very Welcome

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    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      I love your collection of dolls. My collection is still in boxes. My dad traveled around the world and during the 1960s and 1970, he would bring me home a doll. I have about 75 dolls, all from different countries. Thank you for sharing! Awesome!

    • rainykua profile image

      rainykua 4 years ago

      Wow, you've got a nice collection of dolls! The German doll is cute. I like her straw hat with red pom poms. :) It's so unique. I have a few Chinese dolls at home that I kept inside a bookshelf. My friends love to look at them when they visit my home. My mom also used to collect dolls (they were the size of Barbie dolls). Unfortunately, my twin and I destroyed them when we were toddlers. :( I don't even remember them.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 5 years ago

      Amazing collection of vintage international doll and Chinese Lady Doll is cute.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What an adorable collection of dolls. This lens is blessed by Squid Angel Tipi. --- Very sweet! :)

    • nickybutler profile image

      nickybutler 5 years ago

      My word! Beautiful dolls, it's interesting to see how fashions change :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful dolls!

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 5 years ago from Slovakia

      This remindedme ofmy own doll collection. My uncle was in the British army and brought me dolls back when he was posted abroad.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Very nice work on this lens! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      I have a small doll collection. It is being kept by a family member since I moved.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Nice collections of dolls! Great job!

    • Oneshotvariety LM profile image

      Oneshotvariety LM 5 years ago

      Nice variety of unique-looking dolls! :]

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 6 years ago

      Interesting collection. Thanks for sharing.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 6 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      This lens has brought back lots of memories for me! I had quite a large collection of dolls mostly from European countries brought back as souvenirs by relatives after holidays abroad. Thinking about it I must have had about 30 of them and I remember regularly getting them all out on a table and playing with them (they'd have conversations with each other usually based around their clothes!). I loved them, but the stupid thing is that I have absolutely no idea what happened to them after I left home in my early 20s! My Mum is dead now and we weren't on particularly friendly terms before her death, so I can only assume someone else took them, or they got thrown away. I hope it's the former and someone else has them and loves them now...I actually feel quite sad and nostalgic thinking about my dolls. Isn't it strange how life gets in the way of things that you once found important - but in all honesty I hadn't thought about those dolls for years until I came across this lens...I'm glad you still have and enjoy your dolls :) Lovely lens blessed by a passing Squid Angel :)

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      I ADORE dolls too.. even though I don't have any I have always loved them. Beautiful lens that I could not help but bless.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      This reminds me of all the dolls I used to receive as presents from my parents, who were great travellers, and other people who, seeing my collection, thought it good to add to it the collection.

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago from Redcar

      A nice collection.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Nice lens

    • CozyKitty profile image

      CozyKitty 6 years ago

      I just love these international dolls! It's so exciting to get souvenirs from all over the world. Beautiful lens ...

      ;-) Karin

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Absolutely a darling doll collection...

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      @NicoleLynn711: Thanks, but I am at the stage in life where I am cleaning out and giving away. I just can't bear to part with the doll collection as it is a part of my childhood that gave me joy.

    • NicoleLynn711 profile image

      Nicole 6 years ago from Bethel, CT

      you would love the collection my mom has at her house!!! My great grandmother collected many things and dolls was one of her favorites! I might sell some of the less sentimental ones on my Etsy shop so I will have to keep you updated if your interested :) Great lens

    • profile image

      tnsurge 6 years ago

      I'm not a doll fan but even I enjoyed your lens. Check Google keywords if you haven't done so yet and maybe get some backlinks from related sites. Good Luck

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Beautiful collection. I enjoyed your photos and the information you shared about each one. Nicely done.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 6 years ago

      Really cool dolls. I used to travel a lot with my dad when I was a child and I would bring back a doll from each country I visited. Your lens made me wonder if I still have them stored away somewhere. Thanks for sharing! :)