Vintage Paper Dolls

In case anyone doesn't know what they are, paper dolls are stiff cardboard figures, usually dressed in underwear, which children have fun dressing (attaching the clothes with paper tabs or magnets) from a selected wardrobe that comes with the doll.  Paper dolls have been around in various guises for hundreds of years and surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, they seem to be gaining a resurgance in popularity in recent times. 

Antique paper doll..Image from wiki Commons
The precursor to the paper dolls that came with a wardrobe and tabs first appeared in 18th centuryEurope and were chiefly designed to entertain adults. Called jumping jacks or in French, patins, they had jointed limbs so they could form poses and came with a wardrobe of elaborate clothes. However, it was in the 20th century that paper dolls really took off, when they were mass produced for the children's market and sometimes women's magazines and periodicals would include a paper doll section for the kids to enjoy..

Reproduction Shirley Temple paper doll book from Bear Flag Republic

Paper Doll Fun
Old paper dolls, still in tact, are of course rare and highly collectable to boot. Few children would have received a paper doll present and not ripped it apart through wear and tear. I used to love them myself as a kid and often played at being a mini-designer - I would conceive and make my own clothes for the dolls from the colours and patterns in magazines. It was hours of fun! 'Specially on a rainy day.

My new discovery, the website Paper Dolls Review,  has some really great paper doll books, including vintage-themed ones, such as the happy Ken and Barbie-like 50s couple in the one below...

Image from Paperdoll Review

Or....High Fashions, by Jim Howard, which recreates the glamorous styles of 1947. I think they'd make a good gift for the gal who has everything.

Image from Paperdoll Review