As the 19th-century drew to a close, many companies saw the value in using paper toys to market their products. Companies understood that because paper toy ads weren’t discarded until the children of the house tired of playing with them, this form of advertising had more longevity than the usual flyer. Not only were they effective marketing tools, but paper toys were also cheap to produce. Many companies including J&P Coates, New England Mince Meat Company, Enameline, Boraxine, Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, and Pillsbury, used paper dolls to advertise during the Victorian age.
The adorable set of paper dolls shown on this page was produced by Lion Coffee during the Victorian era. Lion Coffee used paper dolls extensively in their marketing during the late 1890s and early 1900s. The company produced many series of dolls including an occupation series, doll house series, and nursery rhyme series.
Lion Coffee has been around since 1864 and is America’s oldest coffee manufacturer. Some people credit the company with running the first great advertising campaign in American History – a campaign that included an iconic image of a lion drinking coffee and text that boasted “8,000 lbs. of coffee roasted every day.” This advertising also mentioned that Lion Coffee was sold in 1lb papers; a pioneering effort to establish a brand name packaged coffee. For more information about Lion Coffee’s advertising campaign, visit the link at the bottom of the page.
This particular set of Lion Coffee Advertising Dolls is based on the the well-known fairy tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” – a story which most likely dates back to the middle ages. The set is made of a heavier-stock paper with advertising text on the back of every piece. I love reading the sayings on the back of the pieces! “In weather cold, and weather hot, Lion Coffee “Hits the spot.”
I think that children can sometimes have the most fun with unexpected, inexpensive toys like this set. I remember cutting out Alvin and the Chipmunks paper dolls from a Dixie Cup box when I was a child. The little dolls kept me entertained for the entire day! I built a home for them out of a shoebox and decorated it with crayons. I wonder what tales this set has to tell!
If you like Advertising Paper Dolls, the book below if full of wonderful reproductions from various Victorian companies! Follow the link to purchase or find out more!