Op Shop Dolls: Costume Dolls


A couple of times a week Naomi goes to the Don River Railway near Devonport to do volunteer work. If you read “Our Other Blog” you will know that we are lifelong railfans and we both worked for the railways in South Australia.

Anyway, one of the other volunteers asked her if she would like to go Op Shopping with her so they went to a couple in East Devonport. Naomi has promised to look out for fixer upper dolls for me whenever she goes to an Op Shop. There were no fashion dolls in the ones she visited but she brought me home these four costume dolls which were only a dollar each.

I have a collection of costume dolls who currently live on a shelf in my bedroom so that’s where these will be going.

Three of the dolls are hard plastic. Two of them are the same type that I already have several of. Most of the ones I have are made either by Rexard of Essex or Faun, an Australian manufacturer. I also have a couple marked “Genius”. After I photographed these two an arm came off one of them. Her costume is already damaged so I will probably try to take it off so I can fix both the arm and the outfit. Hopefully I will discover a doll mark when I do this. if anyone can identify these costumes, I’d appreciate that too.

The other two are different. One has plaits in black mohair. I don’t recognise her costume but she is a pretty and well-made doll. Her arms and legs move although not much because of her costume. The dolls costumes are either glued or sewn on so I don’t want to wreck them looking for a doll mark that probably isn’t there. If someone can tell me more about this doll or this costume, I’ll add it to the post.

The final doll I want to show you is a very interesting one. She/He is made of porcelain and is attached to a plastic base which is marked EROS on the bottom and has the label Siena Italy, Contrada Della Lupa. She/He has blonde hair in a page boy cut, blue eyes and a high colour face. The face looks familiar to me for some reason but perhaps it’s just that the eyes and tiny mouth remind me of other Italian dolls I’ve seen. His/Her arms and head move but the legs do not. Even though this is obviously a souvenir doll it is very well made.

I do know a little bit about Siena, it is a medieval town which is famous for its “Palio”, a horse race around the town square in which the seventeen local districts (Contrada) compete. Each Contrada has its own livery and symbols. Della Lupa if I understood correctly means “She Wolf” I have added a couple of links at the end of this post for anyone who would like to know more about this unusual tradition.

I also looked up Eros and found several references to “Eros Florence” but most were on sale sites and not very helpful with information about the company. Eros seems to have made cloth dolls from about the 1920s onwards. They were making Italian and International costume dolls well into the 1970s. I also found a doll with the same face as this one dressed as a Dutch boy so I wonder if this doll is meant to be a boy. The Palio jockeys would have been boys of course. I just took this one to be a girl at first because of the long eyelashes and red lips.

If any readers are familiar with the Eros dolls which seem to be numerous, I’d love to know a bit about the company. Who started it and what else they made?

Further Reading:

https://manonkats.wixsite.com/costume-dolls

9 comments

  1. I can’t really help you on the dolls as the ones I know are probably a decade older than these, but I think the one with the mohair black hair and costume is probably a Sami, or Lapland doll. The costume looks right. The Page Boy from Italy has the right length hair for a renaissance page boy, maybe he had a trumpet at one time? The costume is right too and Italian men have lovely eyelashes 😁 so I wouldn’t read too much into that. I’ve just googled Palio minstrel doll and similar ones came up ( and your photo too).Good luck with the mending and costume revival. One thing I find irritating is the way costume dolls have their costumes glued on, and often the glue discoloured – did they not realise that collectors might want to take them off. I suppose they were cheaper dolls at the time. All the best. Trish S

    Liked by 1 person

    • I discovered that quite a lot of the Palio and other dolls had page boy hair styles. I didn’t know that Italian men had lovely eyelashes :-).
      It is annoying the way that souvenir dolls have glued on clothing but as you say nobody expected them to be around 40 or 50 years later. The worst case I have had is two Scottish dolls that formerly belonged to my two sisters in law. They had their clothes stapled to them!

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      • Staples – eek! I know I was a frustrated child as my family decided I liked costume dolls. In reality I would just have preferred dolls like Sindy ( which I never got) whose clothes could be taken on and off.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know I felt so sorry for the poor things but I managed to get them out and sew their clothing back together. It is disappointing when other people decide that they know what you like instead of actually asking you.

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      • Yes it was a bit of a constant disappointment. I have no interest in the costume dolls and would love to give them to someone who does. I suppose I should get them out as they’re somewhere in my loft and I’m trying to downsize my belongings.

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  2. What a thoughtful sister! And she has got you a lovely little bundle. Interesting as I have a few Rexard, Faun but not familiar with the others mentioned so will read up on that. I do love the pageboy? and the gorgeous one with black hair.

    Liked by 1 person

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