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What Were The First Dolls?


Dolls have been about for many centuries' in different shapes and forms, sometimes as a companion, sometimes for fun and sometimes for more sinister and evil uses. We can trace their origins back to about 2000 BC in ancient Egypt where the early forms have been found in tombs and if we move further back in time to the pre-Egyptian period it seems they had a sacred significance attached to them.

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They normally had a feminine semblance and were considered to be holy among the people who lived then as they symbolized fertility, like the ancient Roman god Venus.

However their religious significance soon replaced by their popularity as play things. In these prehistoric times, they were made of various materials like bones, ragged cloth and more durable wood, others were made of bisque, china or paper Mache.

The next significant event in the evolution of doll didn't occur until the 16th and 17th Century in Europe.

During this time the first European dolls were made and were mostly create from wood and had peg joints, but these looked more like cloth pegs than actual dolls.

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The next step was the fashion doll. These had more time spent on them and reflected the women's fashion of the time. These were aptly named Queen Anne dolls. They became very popular but they weren't really for child's play but more for adults and served as decorative items.

Then there was the wax doll, which was a much more delicate material than wood to work with. These were introduced into Europe in the early 17th century and were around till late the late 18th century when they gave way to porcelain dolls.

Compared to wood, wax was much better to work with since you could curve the human features into the wax and create finer details. The wax dolls were more clustered around Germany than any other part of Europe.

In the 19th century, porcelain dolls came on the scene. The material used was bisque and china and Germany once again dominated the market for manufacturing these together with Denmark and France.

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Carvers had a softer spot for porcelain than the wax because they could produce more dolls at a cheaper rate than using bisque and china. Bisque being a harder material than china it was more ideal for making the doll heads. Once color was added on the bisque surface it made the doll faces look more human in comparison to the china made doll heads.

The concept of making baby looking dolls was first introduced in the 19th century after a long reign of the adult dolls from the 16th to the 18th century.

The French were the pioneers of the baby dolls and sold them at a rather expensive price as they were more suited for collectors than children.

Then in the mid 19th century, ragged dolls became popular. Initially they were made by mothers for their children but some enterprising Americans and the English decided to try selling them commercially. The English were more serious about them than the Americans until the end of the civil war, then America came back to the business.

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Compared to the previous dolls made of porcelain and wood, these did not look very attractive but this didn't seem to bother the kids who cherish them and played with them often.

After the ragged dolls manufacturers experimented with celluloid, which started in New Jersey. Countries like America, Germany and France invested huge sums of money into celluloid dolls but the fad was short lived didn't last long, especially when the material was discovered to be highly flammable.

In the early 1940's makers began using plastic. It was amazing how durable dolls made of plastic were. Vinyl was particularly popular and dolls like 'Tiny Tears' were born.

Tiny Tears open up a whole new era because she could gracefully suck on a feeding bottle and you could change her diapers, which were an added accessory also thanks to plastic kids could now swim with their dolls and bathe them without ruining them.

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Thomas Edison, who is credited for inventing the light bulb, also invented the first plastic talking dolls and sold most of them in New York. But the talking aspect didn't work well and as a result only 500 dolls were successfully sold and have become hugely collectible dolls.

The baby doll era slowly ended with the new age dolls that resembled young women and teenagers came onto the market. These were mainly fashion dolls that and came about in the 1960's. The first of these was the glamorous Sindy who had her roots in Britian.

Her popularity spread through Europe and even found a large fan base in America, but the Americans hit back with Barbie, a fashion doll invented by Ruth Handler.

Barbie came to the scene and was immediately loved by both young and teenage girls. Barbie crushed Sindy's reign and even came with a boyfriend named Ken. Some additional characters were added to the Barbie family to increase the popularity.

Sindy's popularity hasn't died out completely though and to date, both Barbie and Sindy are the most popular dolls among young girls.

More accessories like fashion clothes and model houses have been added to make the Barbie world more fun to be in and used in fashion expos to model designers clothes.



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