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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Early 19th Century

Papier Mache soon joined wood and other materials in doll making, again, because the Industrial Revolution made paper a mass produced item. Before, and even after for many, paper was a precious commodity, saved, and written on over and over again. Now, it was more plentiful, and could be used for many small items, including dolls and toys, and soon, Paper Dolls! The first of these as we know them were probably Pantins, from France, late 18th c., later forbidden to expectant mothers lest the mania for them lead to deformed children! Excerpt from a site on Sonneberg: History of toys: In the 19th century southern Thuringia - just like Nuremberg, Oberammergau, Berchtesgaden and the Ore Mountains - developed into one of the most significant centres of German toy manufacturing. In the course of the 19th century doll production grew to be the main element in toy manufacture and in 1840 dolls made up 70 % of the entire sales in Sonneberg. In addition to the production of wooden dolls, more and more dolls made of papier-mâché. Then in 1830 porcelain was used. The porcelain doll from Sonneberg became a world famous product made by porcelain manufacturers like Armand Marseille and Ernst Heubach. In the early decades of the 20th century the small town reached its peak in sales and international reputation. After the recovery from World War II toy factories began to produce again in 1945/46. From 1948 on craftsmen in the toy industry were forced to join cooperatives specifically established for purchase and distribution of goods, following the expropriation and nationalisation of the large-scale enterprises. By the end of the 50s private companies were more or less compelled to accept state interference. The foundation of combined collectives represented the next step of the economic centralisation and the entire toy industry with its 27,000 employees, 10,000 of which working in Sonneberg, was coordinated from there. The large-scale enterprises did not survive the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Today about 1,000 employees are still working for small and medium size companies within the toy industry. Some of the local toy factories were able to make a name for themselves so that Sonneberg nowa is called Toy Town to display the international significance which it still has.

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