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I can’t remember precisely when Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote , but the little girl in that classic childrens book had a wax doll.
The Pierottis were still making dolls in the early 20th century, but I think in general by then most manufacturers were principally producing ceramic dolls rather than wax ones. Although every manufacturer had its own recipe, the composition was made principally from wood pulp and mixed with things like plaster, egg shell, and other materials to give it a certain amount of shine.
She was given by King James II or his son to a family who were loyal to the Stuart cause.
That doll would probably never have been a plaything—it was preserved and revered because it came from the King. That’s when dolls really took off because of mass-production.
They would put sticks together and make a doll-like thing.
The poorer children would have to be more ingenious.
It was lying in a box on the table and someone said, “Take it away from me.
I can’t bear dolls, and I certainly can’t bear wax dolls.” Oh, dear. When I was a child, I collected dolls with costumes from different countries. If you knew somebody who was going to Spain, they’d bring you back a Spanish doll in a Spanish costume.
We have a very small team here at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, so we all have to do lots of different things.
Dolls were often the main plaything for children, but there were also dolls that were kept as family relics.
There’s a doll in this museum called the Old Pretender Doll.
All sorts of people like different kinds of dolls, and I think it’s just terrific that there are so many collections and collectors around.
There have been so many different dolls in the last 50 years and so much marketing has gone into them, it’s almost impossible to keep up.