It’s nice to see that paper dolls seem to be making a bit of a comeback these days.
Collecting vintage paper dolls is not easy as due to their fragile nature they are hard to come by in good condition which of course means that they are expensive.
However, it is now possible to find many classic paper doll books from the mid twentieth century as reproductions which is really great news as they don’t cost all that much.
I received two new paper doll books as part of my Christmas present from my sister. They are reproductions of two paper doll books originally published by Merrill Co. Publishers; Paper Doll Wedding No. 4581 from 1944 and Big’n’Little Sister No. 1549 from 1951.
I was so pleased with them that of course I wanted to share them here on the blog but as I try to be a good citizen of the blogosphere I felt that I ought to seek the publisher’s permission before reproducing any pages as they are copyright.
The reproduction books are published by Paper Studio Press. paperstudiopress.com so I headed online to take a look at the site. The company is owned by Jenny Taliadoros and they have a huge range of paper doll books for sale on the site. I learned that Ms Taliadoros has had a passion for paper dolls all her life and that as well as reproducing vintage paper doll books her company also employs artists to create new ones in the traditional style.
I sent off an email to Ms Taliadoros explaining who I was and what I wanted to do and to my surprise I received a reply within a day or so which was very nice considering it was during the holiday season. She very kindly agreed to let me use scans of my paper doll books as part of this post.
I really like the way that these books are made. They are on good quality low acid or acid free paper and have illustrated cardboard covers just like the ones I had as a child. Each page is blank on one side so you can actually cut out and play with the dolls and believe me I was very tempted to do just that. They even have the dolls names on the tags just like many of mine used to. The books are a little bit large for my scanner at 9 1/2 x11 1/2 inches ( approx 24x29cm) so some of the illustrations are partly missing.
On the website the dolls are divided into categories such as Couture Fashion, Classic Movie Stars and Hollywood, Brides and Weddings, and of course by decades.
My Merrill Wedding book is one of six offered including a modern one, “Kate Middleton Paper Dolls” featuring the Duchess of Cambridge. Movie Stars includes Debbie Reynolds, Doris Day, two of my mum’s favourites Deanna Durbin and Jeanette McDonald and lots of others. Some are reproductions and some are modern. These dolls have been created by artists such as David Wolfe and Marilyn Henry but they are done in the vintage style of the originals. Biographies of the stars are usually included.
My favourite paper dolls are the ones from the 1950s and 60s because of course these were the kind that I played with as a child. However, as an adult I do appreciate the fashions of earlier eras. I remember watching old movies from the 1940s with my mum and thinking how smart the clothes were and admiring the hair-do’s of the stars although I prefer more simple, natural styles to wear myself. Big’n’Little Sister pictured here are from 1951.
In the back of my books and I assume most of the others is a very interesting article on paper doll history by David Wolfe. I asked if I could reproduce or share a link to this article and Ms Taliadoros told me that Mr Wolfe has a website of his own.
He will be posting the piece there in the near future and I encourage you to visit the site as there is a lot of interesting reading on it.
Here are some more pictures of the paper doll fashions.
If you are now desperate to buy some paper dolls yourself they are available online but also by mail order and in various bricks and mortar stores in the USA which are listed on the Paper Studio Press website. My sister got mine from Amazon. Most are priced at around $USD12 plus shipping.