Posts Tagged "Paper Dolls"

I was intrigued by this set of Elsie Dinsmore paper dolls when I spotted it on an online British antique store! It is not your average paper doll set but was used to advertise actual dresses for sale at a General Store in Belgrade, Montana. The back of each of the paper doll dresses specifies the style number of the dress that could be purchased.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Elsie Dinsmore, she is a fictional character created by Martha Finley and whose story was told through a series of books written between 1867 and 1905. In the beginning of the series, Elsie is living with her wealthy paternal grandfather because her mother died during childbirth. She encounters many trials and tribulations along her journey but her strong faith in God carries her through. The series encompasses her whole life – beginning when she’s a child and following her through adulthood.

I found an image from a 1916 newspaper that advertises this set of paper dolls at a Missouri store called “Rogers Dry Goods.” It seems like these paper dolls, and the dresses they advertised, were carried in a number of stores across the country.

I love the small details of this set! One dress includes a Kewpie Doll and another, a Teddy Bear. I wish that today’s print advertising was as irresistibly charming!

Two sets of adorable paper dolls by the renowned artist, Betty Campbell.  Campbell was known for her illustrations of angelic-looking children with rosy faces and she designed many paper doll sets in the first half of the 20th century.

The sets are an interesting illustration of how different copyrights laws were 80 or so years ago.  The boxed set is by Milton Bradley and the book set is by McLoughlin.  I believe that the Milton Bradley set is from the 1940s while the McLoughlin set dates from a decade earlier.  I find it fascinating that the same illustrations were used for both sets.  If anyone has any further information about this, please contact me!

The boxed set is currently for sale on EBay!  Please click on my auctions link at the top of the page!



“Winsome Winnie” is a lovely paper doll from Raphael Tuck’s 1894 Artistic Series. She has three dresses with matching hats and a patented neck design that enables her clothes to have a perfect fit!

This set of “Winsome Winnie” paper dolls is especially special because it includes nearly 40 handmade crepe paper outfits. The set once belonged to a child named Miss Martha Levan Mussina who lived in Williamsport, PA during its golden age. At one time this small city, nestled in the hills of central Pennsylvania, had more millionaires per capita than any other place in the world due to its booming lumber business. Mussina would later become an artist of note in the area. One can tell by the detail she put into the crepe paper doll clothes that even as a child she showed great talent.

The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild offers this brief history of the Raphael Tuck company’s paper dolls:

Beginning in 1866, Raphael Tuck is perhaps the best known manufacturer of antique paper dolls. The company began “by appointment to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Fine Art Publishers, London,” and soon opened branch offices in New York and Paris. Their first paper doll was a baby with a nursing bottle, patented in 1893. Tuck’s German manufacturing facilities were destroyed by bombing in December 1940 and all records, plates and documents were lost. Tuck dolls are easily identified by the trademark and series name and number on the back of each piece. A trademark style of this company is a set of paper dolls with many costumes and interchangeable heads. Tuck also made “regular” paper dolls. Some of their titles include Sweet Abigail, Winsome Winnie, Bridal Party, My Lady Betty, Prince Charming, the popular Fairy Tale series and many more. Tuck made paper dolls several years into the twentieth century.

I sold this one-of-a-kind set to a buyer in France.  I hope you enjoy the photos!

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” has been an American classic for over 150 years. It is a story of suspense and adventure; of love and hope. It’s no surprise that The Boston Sunday Globe chose characters from the novel as the subject of one of its paper doll supplements in 1896!

Paper toys as newspaper supplements have an interesting history!  The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild describes this history in the following passage:

The Boston Herald began printing paper dolls in the 1890s. Two lady fashion dolls –one blonde, one brunette- were issued in the paper, and others could be ordered. Costumes in subsequent issues fit the dolls first shown. The Boston Globe soon followed with their own unusual paper dolls to put together. In 1907 and 1908, a Teddy Bear series was published, and in 1910, a family. After 1900, the Boston Post printed a series about Little Polly and Her Paper Playmates with the popular addition of Polly’s older sister Prue, all in full color. The Sunshine Paper Dolls series appeared in The Boston American and The Buffalo Express in 1916.

Paper dolls enjoyed a huge resurgence in newspapers during the Great Depression, when much entertainment could be had for a nickel from the comics and the paper dolls that often appeared in them. Some paper doll characters sprang directly from the comics: the Katzenjammer Kids, Dick Tracy, Brenda Starr, Daisy Mae and Li’l Abner, Fritzy Ritz and Jane Arden. Other newspapers had their own paper doll features, such as Mopsy, Boots and Millie.

I love newspaper paper dolls!  I’m sure Victorian boys and girls looked forward to getting the Sunday paper so they could engage in playtime with their new toy!  Such simple fun!

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!