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Saturday, March 3, 2012

18th Century Dolls

During this time, dolls as fashion dolls and toys began to grown in number. There were some walking dolls, and many of the famous automatons were being made. In France, Pantin or jumping jacks were all the rage, and were supposedly so wildly popular that they were banned, less expectant mothers playing with them have abnormally shaped children!

So-called court dolls are attributed to this era; carved of wood, they represent 18th C. courtiers from the court of Louis XVI, but some stories claim they are really made in the early 2oth c. They are anatomically correct, generally. For more information and photos, review Jean Lotz's wooden doll pages, key words.

Puppets are also very popular at this time, especially marionettes. Doll houses are being made, both for children and adults. Dolls are often called "poppets." Queen Anne, and actually, later Georgian dolls of wood are popular.

Wax dolls are being made, espcially as religious and devotional figures, and some of these move. There is an exquisite example in Mary Hillier's dolls and Dollmakers of a wax mechanical. A little girl lies with eyes open on a flower covered bier. She has blonde hair, and a white silk dress. She is wax with inset eyes, and her lovely face and hands lift upwards. When she is wound, she moves. I also have a still example in the museum, formerly in the Mary Merrit museum.

Toy soldiers are very popular, and soon, Maezel, inventer of the metronome, will devise the first Mamma dolls. There have been shops for toys in London since at least the 17th Century, too. Baby dolls first make their appearance, and more and more dolls appear in art. George Washington left recoreds of dolls and toys bought for his step-children, including dolls.

Earlier, in the 17th Century colonies, William Penn is said to have brought the doll Letitia Penn, a doll celebrity, as a gift for his daughter's friend. The story has since been questioned. 17th c. cornhusk dolls or poppets played sinister roles in the 1692 Salem Witch trials, where dolls were more or less forbidden and seen as instruments of the devil.

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