Wednesday, May 04, 2016

17th, 18th, and 19th Century Wooden Dolls

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

I can't help falling in love the the beauty of the Queen Anne Doll, shown in the picture above, from The Strong National Museum of Play.  She is an exceptional wooden doll circa 1750-1800.

Credits: Queen Anne Doll, 1750-1800, Material wood, Origin England, Style Queen Anne, Object ID 79.451

I would love to see this doll.

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The unbelievable Earliest Queen Anne Doll c. 1690, is also from the Strong National Museum of Play.   How amazing is she?  Just incredible.

Credits: Doll ca. 1690, Material wood, Origin England, Style Queen Anne, Object ID 73.1447

According to their description: A simple, jointed body and carved face decorated with stylized eyebrows and brightly rouged cheeks characterize this "Queen Anne" style doll made in around 1700. Manufacture of these wooden dolls originally predated their namesake, Queen Anne, who reigned only from 1702 to 1714. English woodcarvers and craftsmen began making these dolls in the 1600s, and the craft continued through the 1840s. Affordable only to affluent families, the vast majority of Queen Anne dolls were owned by women, who dressed them in the fashions of the time. Because the clothing obscured the plain wooden bodies, carvers focused their artistic attention on the faces. The dolls' painted, almond-shaped eyes, though distinctly conventionalized, changed to glass or porcelain in later years, and limbs came to be made of fabric or leather. Dolls made prior to the mid-19th century are scarce: some reports note that fewer than thirty seventeenth-century Queen Anne dolls have survived.

Only thirty 17th century Queen Anne dolls have survived.  What a shame.

Online Collections (The Strong) / CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The beautiful Queen Anne doll, shown in the picture above, is also from the Strong National Museum of Play.   How beautiful is she?

Credits: Early Queen Anne doll 1700-1799, Material wood, Origin England, Object ID 75.3093

My understanding was that various types of wooden dolls were being made from 1300 on. Prior to this ancient figures or dolls were made from bone, ivory, clay, leather, and carved from wood.

Wooden French dolls date from 1300 on. Some of the earliest English and German handmade wooden dolls date from 1600 on. William and Mary English wooden dolls date from 1680 - 1720. Queen Anne English Wooden dolls date from 1700 - 1750.German wooden dolls date from the 1700's.

Many wooden dolls from the 18th century on have been family treasures for years and passed down through families from generation to generation.

Supposedly there is a Marie Antoinette wooden doll in a museum in Salisbury, England that still has her entire ensemble, which was made by Marie Antoinette while she was in prison awaiting her execution in 1793.  I would LOVE to see this doll and her wardrobe.

The following is according to the 200 Years of Dolls: Identification and Price Guide By Dawn HerlocherAuthentic antique wooden dolls were typically manufactured in England sometime between the late 1600s and the early 1800s. (However, a large number of antique wooden dolls were manufactured in Germany during the 19th century as well). The majority of antique wooden dolls are generally female, however, a small number of wooden male dolls were manufactured during this period as well. Antique wooden dolls typically come with traditional folk art-style clothing and/or accessories, and usually feature glass eyes and facial expressions.

I decided I wanted to see more of the gorgeous 17th century, 18th century, and 19th century wooden dolls - especially the Queen Anne's. Here's what I found:

 Image Courtesy  National Gallery of Art,Washington.

The Wooden Doll, shown in the illustration above, is from the Index of American Design at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Credits: Wooden Doll c. 1936, Iverson, Jane, American, 1910 - 1997 watercolor, graphite, gouache, and pen and ink on paper, overall: 34.6 x 27.2 cm (13 5/8 x 10 11/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 12 1/4" high, Index of American Design 1943.8.15570

 Image Courtesy  National Gallery of Art,Washington.

The Wooden Jointed Dollshown in the illustration above, is from the Index of American Design at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Credits: Wooden Jointed Doll c. 1936, Iverson, Jane, American, 1910 - 1997, watercolor, graphite, gouache, and pen and ink on paper, overall: 35.4 x 27.8 cm (13 15/16 x 10 15/16 in.) Original IAD, Object: 12" long, Index of American Design 1943.8.8144

A Doll c. 1790 was on the Historic New England Museum website here.

There was another Doll c. 1750 - 1800 on the Historic New England Museum website here.

I found two old wooden dolls in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum Of Art website.  The first Doll c. 1800 - 1815 was here.  The second Doll c. 1800 - 1815 was here.

The website of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation had a Wooden Doll, c. 1770–1775 here.

I found 3 beautiful wooden dolls in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  A beautiful 18th Century Doll in  a red damask dress was here.  Another beautiful 18th Century Doll in a yellow taffeta dress was here. An amazing male Doll c. 1730 - 1740 in a blue satin waistcoat and breeches was here.

I thought I might find more example of Queen Anne type dolls in some of the museums in England. Here's what I found:

Images Courtesy of Hampshire Cultural Trust

The WOODEN DOLL, UNKNOWN ENGLISH MAKER, C. 1740–50, shown in the pictures above, are from the Hampshire Cultural Trust website.

According to her description; This particularly fine and well-preserved doll was donated to the Curtis Museum, Alton in 1949.... She is certainly an example of the so-called ‘Queen Anne’ dolls, but these were made throughout the late 17th and 18th century and not just in the reign of Queen Anne. English doll makers of this period were renowned for their fine and delicate work, although most remain anonymous. By the end of the 18th century, the quality of work in England had deteriorated, due to competition from cheaper wooden dolls made in Germany.

Also: The doll’s detailed and complete set of clothing reveals the work of either a very accomplished amateur (possibly a lady from a wealthy family indulging her passion for needlework) or that of a professional dressmaker showing off the latest fashions on her ‘pandora’ or fashion doll. What is certain is that the doll has not been played with much, if at all, by a child. It would have been very much a case of ‘Look, but don’t touch!’. Nevertheless, she has a broken finger.

For more information on this doll please click here.

There were five exceptional wooden dolls on the  Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, London.  A  gorgeous Doll c. 1740 - 1750 in a gold dress was here.  An amazing Fashion Doll With Accessories c. 1755 - 1760 in a gold embroidered dress was here.  Doll  c. 1770 - 1775 in a red dress was here.  An incredible couple of wooden dolls, one known as Lord Clapham c. 1690-1700 was here.  His spouse, Lady Chapman c. 1690-1700 was here.  These dolls were named 'Lord and Lady' of the family home in Clapham, London by their owners, the Cockerell family.

An exquisite doll known as The Old Pretender c. 1680 was here.  According to the V&A: The Old Pretender is one of the oldest dolls in the museum's collection. It was carved from wood and covered with gesso (a mixture of plaster and glue) before being painted. The doll is fashionably dressed with a wig made of human hair and beauty spots painted on the face. It is associated with the court of King James VII (of Scotland) and II (of England and Wales) at the palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. It is said to have been given to a family of loyal supporters by James II's son James Edward (acknowledged James VII in Scotland but not James III in England and Wales who was subsequently known as 'The Old Pretender').

Image Courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation 

The  large wooden doll named Miss Chalkley, shown in the picture above, was pictured in an article entitled “Miss Chalkley,”  A Georgian Wooden Doll, Acquired for Yorktown Victory Center By David B. Voelkel, Curator on the Jamestown-Yorktown  Foundation website.

According to the article: A large wooden doll recently added to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection was made by an unknown English toymaker around the time of the American Revolution.

Also, according to the article: Though the American colonies broke with Great Britain, the trade links between consumers and suppliers were quickly re-established following the decisive American victory at Yorktown.  Luxury goods such as English wooden dolls continued to cross the Atlantic, as can be seen in many portraits of the 1780s.

For more information and to read this article please click here.

It seems there are quite a few 17th and 18th century wooden dolls in several of the museum collections.  So, I decided to see if there were any for sale on the various auction and doll shop websites.  Here's what I found:

Image Courtesy of

The beautiful 18TH CENTURY WOODEN DOLL WITH DISTINCTIVE PROFILE, as shown in the picture above, was on the website.

According to their description: 16" All-wooden doll with so-called "bulging" enamel eyes,dot-painted brows and lashes,closed mouth with extended center line,blush spots on cheeks,has artistically carved head having shaped cheek bones,distinctive chin,nicely shaped shortened nose with aquiline shape,elongated throat,modeled bosom,shapely waist,block-shaped lower torso,wooden arms with cloth attachments,dowel-jointed hips and knees,wearing lovely authentically styled costume of antique fabrics..... Comments: English,late 17th/early 18th century. Value Points: highly characterized doll with beautifully carved features,from the collection of the late Madeline Merrill,and featured in her book, The Art of Dolls 1700-1940,pp 4 & 71. Realized Price: $18,000.

Image Courtesy of

The beautiful ENGLISH WOODEN DOLL OF THE MID-18TH CENTURY, as shown in the picture above, was on the website.  How beautiful is she?

According to their description: 20" All-wooden doll with oval egg-shaped head,elongated throat,shapely torso,wooden arms with cloth shoulder attachments,carved claw-like fingers,block-shaped lower torso,simplistically carved arms and legs with dowel-jointing at hips and knees,enamel inset eyes,dot-painted lashes and thin brows,blush spots on cheeks,closed mouth with thin line between tiny lips,human hair wig,wearing authentically styled dress and undergarments of antique fabrics.... Comments: English,mid-18th century,the doll is being sold from the private estate collection of the late Madeline Merrill,and is shown in her book,The Art of Dolls 1700-1940,pp 6 & 71. 

Image Courtesy of

The amazing FRENCH CARVED WOODEN COURT DOLLS IN ORIGINAL COSTUMES, as shown in the picture above, was on the website.

According to their description: 14" Depicting persons of the 18th century French court,the pair of wooden dolls include a gentleman and lady,each with elaborate carved hair,facial features,highly characterized anatomical features,and wooden lower limbs with carved and painted shoes. The lady has pompadour style coiffure with four horizontal rows of curls at either side of the face,long looped curl at the back and a rolled coronet curl,strong facial features with painted details; the man has carved brown/grey hair with rolled curls at the sides and an extended carved ponytail behind. Each has hemp-wrapped upper torso and upper limbs,carved wooden lower limbs,and each is wearing its original silk and cotton transfer print costume with rich detail (see detail photographs),and the woman with tiniest pearl necklace and bracelets..... Comments: from a remarkable series of dolls created during the mid-late 18th century representing figures of the French court,and used by members of the aristocracy to story-tell innuendoes and social scandals of the day,being sold from the collection of the late Claude Detave,noted Parisian antiquarian and collector. Value Points: rare dolls,uniquely one-of-a-kind,in original condition and having original costumes. Realized Price: $11,000.

Image Courtesy of

The gorgeous EARLY ENGLISH WOODEN DOLL WITH HIGHLY-CHARACTERIZED EXPRESSION AND ORIGINAL COSTUME c. mid-1700's, as shown in the picture above, was on the website.

According to their description: 18" One-piece carved wooden head and torso, shapely bosom and waist, oval-shaped face with unusual puffy fullness to cheeks and well-defined chin tip, elongated throat, enamel inset eyes, painted upper and lower lashes, single-stroke brows with dot accents on upper edge, aquiline nose, closed mouth with full lips and piquant smile, original brunette human hair wig, cloth upper arms, wooden lower arms with individually-carved spatula-shaped hands, wooden legs with dowel-jointing at hips and knees.....Comments: English, mid-1700s, very rare early model with distinctive sculpting of facial shape...... Realized Price: $22,000

Image Courtesy of Carmel Doll Shop

The beautiful Georgian Wooden Doll, shown in the picture above, was on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for the Carmel Doll Shop.

According to their description: Georgian wooden's have sometimes seen refreshing to their paint over the years, but we prefer to offer those that have remained just as the day they were made, like this tiny wooden lady. Standing 15-1/2" tall (overall) details include a turned wood head and torso with original paint, plus rosy cheeks, inset black glass pupil-less eyes and a wonderful mohair wig. The body features carved wooden legs that are jointed at the hips and knees, with forked hands (losses). Eighteenth century silk in various shades forms the basis of her elegant dress. A marvelous wooden that will help bring your early dollhouses or vignettes to life. Measures: 15" in height.

Image Courtesy of Carmel Doll Shop

The exquisite Georgian Wooden Doll c. 1780 - 1790, shown in the picture above, was from the Carmel Doll Shop website.

According to their description: 15 1/2" overall, is a Georgian Wooden in a desirable cabinet size - one who is small enough to reside in an early dollhouse or vignette, but large enough to play "mother" to your more child-like examples. Circa 1780-90, Lady Gwendolen's features include original paint in excellent condition that offers a glowing patina, painted eyes, rouged cheeks and what appears to be her original deep blonde wig. In addition, she is exquisitely costumed in period silk brocades, fine lace and silk ribbons - especially charming are her original leather "gloves" that she wears upon her simply carved wooden hands. A treasure, to be sure.

Image Courtesy of

The unique Pair of Queen Anne Wooden Dolls, shown in the picture above, is from the website.  I just love their outfits.  Don't you?
According to their description: English, late 18th century, bedpost style all wood carved Queen Anne man and woman with pupil less brown glass eyes, painted features, mohair wigs, appropriately redressed in vintage brocade with metallic trim.  Size: tallest 28".

Nowadays many renowned art doll artists are making reproductions of wooden dolls from the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. Some are so good it would be hard to tell them from the real ones. I would love to make one of them but can't decide which century to choose. 17th, 18th, and 19th? Maybe I'll make one for each!

No comments:

Post a Comment