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doll head 1922.190
doll 1922.424
doll 1955.21
doll 1922.566

Dolls have been treasured and much loved toys of young girls from the seventeenth century, if not earlier, often stylishly dressed to represent a fashionable ideal. They were also made as a publicity vehicle for dress makers and milliners, hawking around the latest styles and fabrics. The Gallery has a collection of about a hundred fashionable dolls, the earliest, like the doll in the salmon pink dress below, date from the eighteenth century. However, most date from the nineteenth century, like the doll in the main picture from the 1840s, with a papier mache head and cotton print dress. Apart from papier mache, heads might also be made from carved and painted wood, porcelain or moulded wax, with little carved hands and feet, and stuffed fabric limbs under the clothing.

It was also popular to create souvenir dolls as representations of the celebrities of the day, usually actresses or royalty. The head and shoulders of the doll shown below is from a doll dressed as Queen Adelaide, the consort of William IV in the 1830s. More usually, dolls depicted occupational characters, such as pedlars, fortune-sellers or nurses, sometimes even as whole tableaux, as with the Charity School Group also pictured here.

Full item descriptions:

"doll" [1922.424]
"doll" [1955.21]
"doll (Queen Adelaide)" [1922.190]
"doll (pedlar - Sarah Thrifty)" [1922.566]
"doll (charity school group)" [1948.23]