COMING SOON... Dolls to Victorian Bazaar

The history of Victorian dolls is a record of civilization.  Few of us realize that a doll has not always been a plaything, but in ancient times were objects of religious cults, ideals, and magic images. In every era, the doll has been an expression and symbol of the times and trends. It is the oldest toy known to the world, and they served many different purposes during thousands of years. Actually, for only about a hundred years dolls have been considered the special domain of children. But, let us concentrate on the history of dolls from their value as elegant and beautiful toys.

The origin of the word “doll” has never been completely established. Some linguists believe that it might stem from the Greek eidolon (idol). And, other experts are of the opinion that doll is a diminutive of the Christian name “Dorothea” which is also derived from the Greek. Its meaning is “gift of God”. No better name could have been found for a plaything which, the world over, has made millions very happy!

The material from which dolls have been made represents the technical development of mankind. It leads from stone, wood, clay over metal, cloth, and paper, china (porcelain) to rubber and plastic. Many centuries passed until a new material for the making of dolls came into use: china. Beginning with the fifteenth century, dolls were mostly manufactured from this porcelain.

Greek and Roman girls used dolls as toys until they married at the age of twelve or thirteen. Early temple dolls have also been found in Persia, Babylon, India and Tibet and among many of the primitive African tribes. The Inca dolls and the little figures discovered in South America remind how old the “doll” is. Each generation has its favorite dolls.

During the late Middle Ages, they served as royal luxuries, ornamental gifts and fashion representatives. While the courts dominated the cultural life of Europe, dolls belonged to the favorite presents made by or to royalty. Dressed up as elaborately and richly as possible, they were representative of the fashion-conscious spirit of epochs such as baroque, rococo and empire. Also, they had the important task that is now fulfilled by our modern fashion magazines. A lady of nobility, eager to know about the latest trends and newest styles, would order a doll dressed by a famous fashion designer. Those splendid little “ladies of fashion” are probably the most instructive tools for anyone interested in the history of costumes. So, we understand that the “fashion dolls” were not meant to be playthings for little girls. Possibly some mothers gave them to their children after their dress was no longer considered dernier cri (latest style). It is said that most of them became ornamental exhibits in salons and reception halls.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the preferred dolls were miniature royalties-- princes and princesses in glamorous outfits. These were followed by those of all types of professions; ballet dancers in tulle and lace, brides and nuns, judges, doctors and nurses, kitchen chefs, chimney cleaners with a pail, and later sportsmen, soldiers, sailors, famous people, etc. In addition, one favorite doll has outlived all the others: the baby doll.

Not so many decades ago almost all dolls had to be imported from European countries, such as France, Germany and Switzerland that specialized in doll making. And, when doll manufacturing began in the United States around 1860, the stuffed bodies were a domestic product, while the heads were still purchased abroad. An important aim of manufacturers is to impart a lifelike appearance to dolls. Dolls able to move their eyes, close their eyelids, have glued on hair and clothing and mimic talking were considered a sensational innovation not so long ago. Modern dolls have real hair, formerly made of wool, now of human hair. It can be brushed, combed, braided and adjusted to the latest style. The garments are easily removed and washable. Dolls wear bras, panties, and nylons; they possess several outfits to be worn for special occasions. In addition, they have movable parts, can sit as well as walk, talk, drink, weep and wet!

With all of this interest and beauty attained by the doll phenomenon, no wonder that many grown-up ladies also like to own a decorative doll. You can find dolls seated on couches, in living rooms or bedrooms and many ladies have lovely collections of dolls of all kinds. It is a most unique hobby the world over. In summary, we of Victorian Bazaar are also fond of dolls, and soon will be offering several beautiful Victoriana dolls to give as gifts, add to your home decor and perhaps add to your prized doll collection. We can’t wait to see how you adore them!

 Let the romance of roses fill your life.  Victorian Bazaar has inspired ideas for your home- from elegant fabriques to breathtaking arrangements to the historic saga of this most beloved flower.

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