Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vogue Dolls

The Vogue Doll Company started in the house of Jennie H. Graves, the company's founder. Ginny is the most well-known of the Vogue dolls. Ginny was designed to resemble a young girl of about five. The first Vogue dolls were composition (glue mixed with sawdust) and had painted-on eyes. In 1948, Mrs. Graves created Ginny and Vogue Dolls began making plastic dolls with sleep eyes, or eyes that open and close. Mrs. Graves also designed the clothing and accessories for the Vogue dolls.

The Vogue Doll Company and the Ginny line changed hands a few times over the years and Ginny lost her classic look for a while when designers attempted to make her more like a fashion doll than a toddler doll. The Ginny line was sold to Vogue again in 1995 and Ginny returned to her old self. Vogue also made Jill, a pre-Barbie fashion doll. We can't wait to feature a Ginny doll in our Modern Dolls exhibit!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tonner Dolls

Robert Tonner worked for Bill Blass for 18 years before starting the Tonner Doll Company in 1991, with an eye towards making a fashion doll that would rival Barbie. His first fashion dolls were jointed porcelain dolls. The Tonner Doll Company also made porcelain child dolls and then vinyl child dolls while Robert Tonner worked on his idea for a fashion doll. His first fashion dolls were the vinyl American Models, followed by Zoe, and then Julia. Tonner felt that there were problems with the lengths of various limbs in the American Model Dolls, Zoe, and Julia. He finally achieved his vision of his ideal fashion doll with Tyler Wentworth, whose backstory is that of a fashion designer.

Tyler Wentworth

In addition to fashion dolls, the Tonner Doll Company makes vinyl recreations of Betsy McCall, the famous paper doll from the 1950s. The Tonner Doll Company has also designed dolls based on characters from movies such as Titanic, the Harry Potter movies, and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as dolls based on characters from DC Comics. Tonner has also created doll versions of Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, and Joan Crawford.

We are very excited to be able to feature a Tonner doll in the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum and will post pictures here and on Facebook when we receive it.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paper Dolls

Paper dolls have been around in some form or fashion as far back as 800 A.D. The first manufactured paper doll was made in 1810. Paper dolls became popular in the 18th century, where they were amusing toys for the members of the French royal court. English manufacturers used paper dolls to tell morality tales by including printed stories with the dolls. Mothers made paper dolls for their children by cutting pictures out of fashion magazines, such as Godey's Ladies Book, and gluing them to heavyweight paper. Laura Ingalls Wilder had paper dolls made by her mother, and, later, herself and her sisters. When I was a child, my mother made paper dolls for me by cutting out the pictures of the babies on the cardboard boxes of laundry detergent.

I had many paper dolls and enjoyed playing with them more than my Barbie dolls. I loved making up stories for them in my head. Some of the dolls, such as the Ginghams (pictured above) came in boxes that, when set up, contained little dioramas of an old-fashioned bedroom, kitchen, country stores, Christmas parlor, or beach scene. While the Ginghams were by far my favorites, I also had Star Princess, who came with a large diorama, Barbie and various other fashion paper dolls, Alice in Wonderland (whom I never really liked, for some reason) and even Trixie Belden and her friend Honey Wheeler. Of course all my original paper dolls disappeared over the years but from time to time I'm lucky enough to find vintage paper dolls such as the Ginghams and Star Princess on websites such as Etsy. I also have a few modern paper dolls, including Queen Amidala from the first Star Wars prequel. Like the Ginghams, Star Princess, and many of those original paper dolls that found their way into the hands of French nobility, Princess Amidala came with a variety of dioramas. Many of the original French paper dolls were intended to be used to act out plays, and came with little stages.  Paper dolls have been stimulating the imaginations of generations of little girls for hundreds of years. We plan to feature a paper doll exhibit in the Spencer Doll and Toy Museum and to have classes on the history of paper dolls and how to make them.