Wednesday, April 06, 2016

William F. Goodwin Patent Walking Doll - Circa 1870 and Other Autoperipatetikos Walking Dolls

Have you ever heard of the William F. Goodwin Patent Walking Doll - Circa 1870 or seen one of the video's of it walking?  I hadn't and was delighted to not only see pictures of these dolls, but to see a couple of video's. They are totally delightful dolls and I would love to see one.

The Early American Toy Stevens & Brown Goodwin Patent Walking Doll, shown in the video above,  is from the Antique Toys and Automata website.

If you'd like to see how the doll walks please click on the video above.

According to their description:  We are pleased to offer for your consideration a wonderful early American, circa 1872, clockwork toy called "The Improved Automatic Walking Doll" more commonly called the Goodwin's Patent Walking Doll .  

This beautiful toy was by manufactured by The Stevens and Brown Company in Connecticut and appears in their 1872 catalog on page four. The ad displays the wood carriage but the script introduces the "improved" tin carriage version.

The clockwork motor for this toy is hidden under the carriage seat and it drives the rear axle, propelling the toy forward in a circle. As the carriage moves forward, the doll follows and her metal jointed legs move up and down allowing her to walk along as if she is pushing the carriage. Her ankles also flex, making for a very realistic “walking” motion so be sure to watch the video above. A hard or polished surface will not allow the doll to walk, the pins on her feet must catch slightly to cause the mechanism to function (she walked best for us on concrete).

I found them to be totally charming so, of course, I had to find out more. Here's what I found:

The mechanical doll’s legs were patented by William Farr Goodwin Jan 22nd 1867 & Aug25th 1868.

The Stevens & Brown Clockwork Goodwin's Patent Walking Doll circa 1870 shown in the video below is from the Antique Toys and Automata website.

If you'd like to see how this doll walks please click on the video below.

The  Antique Toys and Automata website also had the following Circa 1870 Mechanical Goodwin’s Patent Walking Doll.
If you'd like to see how this doll walks please click on the video below.

Totally charming - aren't they?

William Goodwin didn't just have one patent for a walking doll.  He had several patents, one of which was for a walking mechanism for a horse.

Image Courtesy of 

If you would like to see his patent US 61416 A for the walking horse please CLICK HERE.  If you would like to know more about William F. Goodwin and his horse patent please read the 1867 – Mechanical Horse (pat.) – W. Farr Goodwin (American) post on the blog.

However, William F. Goodwin and Stevens & Brown weren't the only mechanical doll makers. There were many in the 1860's and thereafter.

During the 19th century many American and European manufacturers were keen on creating mechanical dolls that talked and walked. In 1862 Enoch Rice Morrison became the first American to receive a patent for his walking doll which he name Autoperipatetikos (i.e. self-propelled oy walking-about-by-itself in Greek).

The dolls walked by means of a clockwise mechanism which allowed their feet to move back and forth. They had bisque heads which were manufactured in Germany, and moveable hands and legs. The dolls were clothed in fashionable clothes and had hooped skirts that hid their mechanisms. American manufacturers later substituted cloth heads for the bisque heads as the latter made the dolls heavier and they were more likely to topple over.

According to the Toy and Miniatures Museum: Walking dolls existed prior to the 1862 Enoch Rice Morrison doll.  However, they were either supported by string, a wooden baby walker or were guided.

 Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

According to the Autoperipatetikos illustration shown above from the Dolls from the Index of American Design Collection at The National Gallery of ArtIn 1862, Enuch Rice Morrison obtained patents in both England and America for an "Autoperipatetikos," or walking doll. The walking mechanism was operated by a clock spring. The underside of the mechanism is illustrated at the upper left. It is encased in a wooden base attached to the doll with papier-mâché back wheel pivots. The heads of walking dolls were made in a variety of materials; this one is Parian bisque. The arms are of kid. The doll's black moiré dress is trimmed with black lace.

Beverly Chichester (artist), American, active c. 1935, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Edison Institute of Technology (object owner), Walking Doll, c. 1938, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15540

Shown below are some of his actual walking dolls:

Image Courtesy of 

The Martin & Runyun Tin-Automata Patent Autoperipatetikos or Walking Doll shown in the picture above is a key wind doll designed by Enoch Rice Morrison from the website. Manufacturer: Martin & Runyun - Kind of toys:Tin Automata - Item-Nr.:Walking doll - Year: ca. 1862

According to their description: Patent Autoperipatetikos or Walking Doll is a key wind doll that actually walks, she comes in her rare original box top and with her original key and in all original clothes. Autoperipatetikos means the automatic walking one. This clockwork mechanism walking doll was designed by Enoch Rice Morrison in 1862 and made by Martin and Runyon in the United States. Made of composition, brass, wood and leather, the doll's head is composition with molded hair and painted facial features. Arms are of kid leather. The body is a conical shaped cardboard and wood containing a clockwork mechanism. The bodice is of pale blue silk with lace and ribbon trim, overskirt of white lace and net and petticoat of white cotton and lace. The original box lift off lid measures 10.5" x 5.5", pat. 1862.

There is a picture of the Autoperipatetikos or walking doll made in the USA by Martin & Runyon in 1862  on the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum website here.

There is also a picture of the Autoperipatetikos or walking doll made in the USA by Martin & Runyon in 1862 on the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum website here.

According to her description: Composition shoulder head with moulded hair and painted facial features; body containing clockwork mechanism covered with oilcloth and supported by a wooden base; brass lower legs with a caterpillar movement inside; leather arms.

I found an Antique Autoperipatetikos Mechanical Walking Doll C.1870 in Vininghill on the website here.

According to her description she was 11 1/4" Autoperipatetikos with a beautiful Parian doll head.

Image Courtesy of

The American Mechanical Walking Doll shown in the picture above is from the website.

According to their description: 10" Comments: circa 1870,the patented American walking doll was created for nearly a decade with heads made of bisque or paper mache; when key wound,the doll slowly lifts its feet up and down as though walking. Value Points: beautifully preserved doll with well-functioning mechanism,elaborate coiffure.

 Image Courtesy National Gallery of Art,Washington.

According to the Doll On Velocipede illustration shown above from the Dolls from the Index of American Design Collection at The National Gallery of ArtThe 1860's began a golden age for dolls. It was also during this decade that some interesting changes in doll-making occurred and a number of new patents were obtained. Before 1860, for example, dolls were not jointed and therefore usually not able to sit down. This charming mechanical doll of the early 1860s mot only sits on her three-wheeled iron velocipede, but strikes the bell in front of her as the tricycle moves. The rear bell chimes with the forward movement. The doll is dressed in a black velvet jacket, a silk blouse trimmed with white lace at the neck and sleeves, and a pink and white striped skirt. Notice the jaunty til of the satin military-style hat adorned with pink ribbons and braid.

Mina Lowry (artist), American, 1894 - 1942, Anonymous Craftsman (object maker), Elie Nadelman (object owner), Doll on Velocipede, c. 1936, watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paper, Index of American Design, 1943.8.15439

Credits: Iverson, Jane - American, 1910 - 1997, Walking Doll c. 1936, watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paper, overall: 35.5 x 27.3 cm (14 x 10 3/4 in.), Index of American Design, 1943.8.15437

Image Courtesy of The National Archives

Walking dolls weren't the only mechanical dolls being patented.  In 1871 Robert Clay submitted a patent for A Creeping Baby Doll as seen in the illustration above from the digital vault of The National Archives website.

According to their description: Robert Clay submitted this drawing in support of his patent application for a creeping baby doll in 1871. In his application, he claims that this will be “a very amusing toy…produced at small cost.” National Archives, Records of the Patent and Trademark Office

Image Courtesy of

Not all of the dolls walked with the use of mechanics - some of the wooden dolls actually danced when they were bounced up and down.

The Early American Folk Wooden Dancing Doll On Platform shown in the picture above is from the website.

According to their description: 16" One-piece head and torso with sculpted bosom, carved wooden head of black-complexioned woman with highly-defined facial features, glaze-painted black center-parted hair, wooden loose-jointed arms and legs, painted yellow stockings and black shoes, wearing original costume, and attached by a coiled metal rod to a wooden platform which, when bounced up and down, causes the doll to dance loosely about. Condition: generally excellent, left lower arm missing. Comments: American, mid-1800s. Value Points: rare folk art toy with especially fine detail of facial sculpting, original costume.

Image Courtesy of

While the mechanical dolls were all the rage in the late 19th century one of the most interesting walking dolls I found walked, but it wasn't mechanical.  It was the eight-legged wooden walking doll shown above that I found on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things website (Image via Theriault’s Antique Doll Auction.)

According to their description: This very rare doll from the early nineteenth century demonstrates a very innovative design for its day: a spoked wheel of legs which allow the doll to ‘walk’ when it is pushed across the floor. The doll would have originally been costumed in a long dress to hide the leg mechanism, so only two walking feet would have shown at a time. The value of this remarkable hand-carved doll, with its enamel eyes, coiled chignon, jointed arms and delicately painted features, has not been lost on collectors: it sold for $7500 (USD) in auction in July 2012.

Unusual indeed, but I still love it. Don't you?


  1. Fantastic information, great article! Edyth O'Neill

  2. Hi, Edyth. I'm so happy you like it. I would love to see one of these dolls. They're just too adorable - don't you think? Thanks for commenting. Have a great weekend. :) Linda