Here's some general emails about dolls
my name is Tia and I'm doing a report on the restoration of old
dolls. Could you please tell me the first person who did this and how it was
done, when it was done. And by the way I'm a collector myself.
The first one to restore a doll? People have been fixing their children's
toys ever since children have had toys, and dolls were some of the first toys.
Artist's dolls made for wealthy children were probably repaired by the
artists who made them. I'm sure there was no one person that we can credit
for being the first one to restore a doll.
May I suggest you take another tack on your report and research the dolls
of the centuries - like the ones found in the Egyptian tombs, the ones
played with by European royalty, the ones children had during the ancient
Or maybe show how dolls through history reflect the values adults wanted to
pass on to their children. Like the beautiful bisque baby dolls and lady
dolls of the wealthy, the rag dolls of the slave children, the corn cob
dolls of the pioneer, the china heads of the 1800s, the Amish dolls that
even today don't have faces because they might encourage children to vanity.
Another aspect is to show the progress of women's roles in society by the
ways dolls were dressed. The professional female - nurse, teacher, model,
secretary, student, mother before the 30s - and then when the World Wars
broke out there came female dolls in uniform. Then in the 50s women were
returned to poodle skirts and debutantes and brides. One of the first
women's libbers when it comes to dolls was Barbie! Once a bubble headed
teenager, through the years she's progressed to what were traditionally
male roles including everything from an astronaut to a race car driver to
Finally, a lot can be told about a society's progress in technology by the
materials used in making the dolls. Early mothers made dolls for their
children from what was at hand. The first dolls were probably an animal
pelt wrapped with strips of leather. Native Americans made dolls of
corn cobs and carved wood, heads of dried apples, sculpted clay.
Artists made dolls that were really jointed figurines of bisque or carved
wood, baked clay, molded wax. Manufactured dolls of the mid 1800 of
composition was mixture of wood pulp, rags, glue and other secret
ingredients that were painted and sanded to a smooth, hard surface.
Another favorite material was latex rubber which came along with the
tire industry in about the 1920s. In World War II, plastic was invented
and injection molds were used. After the war, the doll manufacturers
found this new plastic material was great for dolls. The first used a
formaldehyde solvent that leached into the air if the piece didn't happen
to cure properly. Another material was vinyl. The first vinyl didn't hold
it's color or shape and in time turned yellow and had a greasy feel. It was more like human skin,
though and easier to mold and finish. When the vinyl problems were solved in the late 50s,
it was the end of hard plastic and real latex rubber dolls. Today, what we see
in the stores as hard plastic or rubber are really variations of vinyl.
Another idea is the economy of the 20th century.
As the economy dropped, the quality of the dolls was higher. The reason
is that when labor was cheap, more man hours were put into the making of the
dolls - the sewing of outfits, the painting of faces, human hair wigs. When the
up and labor became expensive, machines were developed to mass produce dolls
and the clothing. When even this became too expensive to permit a doll to
sell at a price low enough to be a toy for a child, the dolls were no longer
made in this country but imported from countries where labor is still cheap.
There's a lot to be learned from dolls and I think you can do better by telling what
can be known rather than looking for what can't!
Good luck and maybe the library would be a great place to start.
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