Dating a piece of paper
In France in the mid-1700s, "pantins" were all the rage in high society and royal courts.This jointed jumping-jack figure, a cross between puppet and paper doll, was made to satirize nobility.
It shows coiffures and headdresses for sale at the shop of Denis-Antoine on Rue St. In 1791, a London advertisement proclaimed a new invention called the "English Doll." It was a young female figure, eight inches high, with a wardrobe of underclothes, headdresses, corset and six complete outfits. Examples of many beautiful and extremely rare paper dolls can be seen at the John Greene Chandler Memorial Museum in South Lancaster, Massachusetts.It's memories like this that bring many adults back to the subject as collectors seeking the sets they played with as children.There is nothing quite like the feeling of digging in a box of assorted papers and suddenly finding in one's hand an exact replica of a childhood toy.The Balinese have made shadow puppets of leather and of paper since before Christ, although we are aware of no evidence that they made separate costumes for these figures.Many dolls have been made of paper in the Orient, whether folded or otherwise constructed, but these are three-dimensional and not flat.First American manufactured paper doll: The History and Adventures of Little Henry, published by J. In the 1820s, boxed paper doll sets were popularly produced in Europe and exported to America for lucky children.
First celebrity paper doll: A doll portraying the renowned ballerina Marie Taglioni, published in the 1830s.
In 1840, a boxed set was done of another ballerina, Fanny Elssler, as well as of Queen Victoria.
These early paper dolls are rare and priced accordingly.
(Pantin is the French word for a Dancing-Jack Puppet.) Other cultures have had special forms of paper art, including China (Hua Yang), Japan (Kirigami), Poland (Wycinanki), and Germany and Switzerland (Scherenschnitte).
Many more have enjoyed folk art pictorial representations in cut paper, but these also do not have garments to fit the forms.
History of Paper Dolls Copyright 1999 Judy M Johnson Publishing and distribution of this article requires approval from the author. This article first appeared in "The Doll Sourcebook." Updated by Judy M Johnson December 2005.