This is the first paper doll post I wrote for the blog back in 2013. I thought that I would enlarge the photos and run it again “for those who came in late” as they say in the Phantom comics.
If you would like to read some of our more recent posts you can find links to them here.
When I was a child paper dolls were one of my favourite playthings. The earliest one I can remember was in a Bunty Annual that my father brought home for Naomi and I. There was only one doll but she had a large wardrobe of outfits. As she was in a book it was some years before we were actually allowed to have her cut out. I recall that we agreed to share Bunty and we divided the clothing between us. We had a lot of fun with Bunty and her older sisters from the back of Bunty comics, they were probably our favourite paper dolls and we had several years of entertainment from them. Sad to say some years later Bunty slipped through a crack in the floorboards in my bedroom and was not seen again until Naomi discovered the identical Bunty Annual for sale on eBay a couple of years ago.
However, we did have a lot of other paper dolls to play with. Paper doll books were on sale in our local newsagent and were cheap enough to be bought with our own pocket money although I think mum bought most of them for us. I don’t remember all the ones we had in England, the ones I do recall were little girls with pretty wardrobes but were on fairly thin card which made them rather fragile. We hadn’t yet thought of sticking them on to heavier cardboard. Later we discovered that the cardboard inserts that came in socks and shirts was ideal for paper dolls and we always saved it. Even today I find it hard to throw away a good bit of cardboard.
Around 1965 mum bought us each a mother and daughter set called “Mary and her Mummy” they had matching outfits and were on much heavier card. I really wanted to play with them but mum said she was saving them for us to play with on the ship coming to Australia. At this time we were waiting to hear when we would be emigrating. Eventually I must have worn her down because by the time we did sail Mary and her Mummy were already being played with. I also remember Naomi having a really large paper doll, a baby or toddler which was called Honeybunch. I’m not sure if that was really her name or another doll christened by mum who liked to name things. We had a few others, cut outs from Naomi’s “Teddy” and “Twinkle” comic books and a Sindy paper doll who had copies of the real Sindy outfits but we really increased our collections once we arrived in Australia.
One of our older cousins who was already in her teens gave Naomi, a cousin and me her discarded paper dolls to share. These were paper dolls from American companies like Saalfield although we didn’t know that then of course. There was a wedding party, bride and groom, best man, bridesmaid and flower girl, a little old lady with lots of children, airline stewardesses, ballet dancers, little girls with pretty dresses. Some were a bit the worse for wear but they kept us happy for hours.
I also started to read the Bunty comic every week and soon we had an enormous pile of paper dolls to play with. We did get a bit tired of them all being blonde and blue eyed though and many of mine received a Texta Colour makeover so that I could have brunettes with brown eyes or redheads with green eyes.
There were also some paper dolls with gimmicks. I recall being given one as a small child that came with three different faces with different hair and makeup. I think that there was a transparent pocket to slot the neck into and there were dolls whose clothes were attached by magnets like “Magic Mary Jane”. I had a game called “I Wish I Were” too which featured four paper dolls which you moved around the board. They had outfits for different occasions and careers. One of these outfits was also lost through the notorious bedroom floor crack, it just fell straight off the doll. We didn’t know whether to laugh or be mad.
Recently we have discovered that many of the vintage paper dolls sets are available as reproductions and we have spent hours going through the website looking at different sets and trying to find the ones we used to have. Naomi did most of the research and often she would send me links to different sets she’d seen online. The wedding party was particularly elusive “Is this the one, is this the one?” she would ask me. As she is a bit younger than I am she wasn’t sure she remembered it but I knew I would know it when I saw it. Eventually she did find it and I now have a copy along with several other childhood favourites. Sadly the English ones seem a bit harder to find. I still haven’t spotted “Mary and her Mummy”.
Links to Paper Doll sites:
If you would like to see and maybe buy some reproduction paper dolls this is where we got ours.