I loved playing with my cousin’s china dolls (which she did not love me doing) because I didn’t have any unique dolls of my own. So, on my fifth birthday, she gave me a set of paper dolls with oodles of bright and colorful clothing that she made herself – it was the perfect present. I was very careful as i played with my new dolls, but the unthinkable happened and I ripped one of the dresses (it was truly traumatic until I found out I could just make more clothing)! Now, I spend hours in my favorite craft store searching for the perfect colors and patterns to make a personalized paper doll set for the little ones in my family.
Whether you’re a fan of the classic era paper dolls or love the look of the new and improved styles, here’s some background about this very historic toy from Wikipedia:
While paper dolls have been around since the invention of paper, they weren’t always used as toys. Centuries ago, Asian cultures applied faces and objects to paper for use during religious rituals and ceremonies. Japanese also used origami to fold paper figurines in the shape of the classic Kimono as part of their customs.
The first paper dolls (known as pantins) appeared in France in the mid 1700s as adult entertainment that spread throughout high society. These dolls featured joints that allowed their arms and legs to move freely and were handmade and hand painted.
McLoughlin Brothers, the largest American producer of paper dolls, was sold to Milton Bradley in the 1920s when paper doll popularity began to grow in the US. Getting away from the handmade process of making paper dolls, book publishing companies began mass producing paper doll cut-outs of movie stars and celebrities to turn a profit on this up-and-coming toy.
Lucky for those of us who never really gave up on the classic paper doll toys, they’ve moved into the 21st century with great no cut dolls and clothes that feature adhesive dots, which make dressing dolls even easier. While I love that these dolls have been made better than ever, I will never abandon the positively perfect (and always entertaining) cut and tab style that I grew up loving!