Thank-you Tom Tierney

Tom Tierney © Dover Publications

Tom Tierney © Dover Publications

In our many years in the doll business, we have often heard stories – or memories – of ‘my first dolls.’

For many, their first dolls were paper dolls. And the most famous paper doll artist of our times is Tom Tierney.

Tom Tierney died in July of 2014 at the age of 85. He had been creating paper dolls for over forty years, mostly for Dover Publications.

If you had store bought paper dolls, the odds are you had some of Tom’s. A search on Amazon reveals 732 ‘results’ for Tom’s Doll books. There are over 1600 results on Ebay (mid August 2014).

I’m a huge fan of Tom as an artist. His research was meticulous, and his drawing as well.

Paper dolls started the same way fashion dolls did… as a way to get the word out on fashions of the day. Paper dolls ‘dressed’ in Paris could be easily carried to America to show what the best dressed were wearing.

Today’s paper dolls are ‘lessons;’ in period costume, in literature, in fashion, in history, in geography, in culture.

One of my favorite Tom Tierney books is Brides From Around The World.

Brides BookIt contains four ‘dolls’ and 28 wedding gowns from around the world. Each gown is not only accurately drawn, but described in detail.

Here’s a typical example of what children can learn from a Tom Tierney paper doll book: Plate #4 Indian Sari: “An Indian wedding is typically a riot of color. The bride’s apparel generally consists of three items: The choli (blouse) the ghagra (skirt) and the sari (shawl.)”

Tom didn’t invent Paper Dolls – they were around as early as the 18th century. And Tom didn’t re-invent paper dolls, there has been a continuous stream of paper doll artists ever since then. But what Tom did do, is when the popularity  of paper dolls had become the merest glow of the remaining coals, Tom blew the flame of popularity back into the field – in my eyes his greatest legacy. Thank you Tom Tierney.

Doll Book Review: The Tale of Two Bad Mice

©Frederick Warne & Company illustration from Beatrix Potter's Then Two Bad Mice

©Frederick Warne & Company illustration from Beatrix Potter’s Two Bad Mice

Obviously if we are going to review a book on the Doll Blog, it should have dolls in it, right?

Alas, although there are two dolls in “The Tale of Two Bad Mice,” by Beatrix Potter; (Lucinda and Jane), they are peripheral to the tale, as they are only the owners of the doll’s house where the action takes place.  The main characters in this story are the titular ‘Two Bad Mice,’ and the action takes place while the dolls are away from home.

It is hard to not have spoilers when the tale is only 20 or so sentences long. So what to review instead?

I feel that the charm of Beatrix Potter’s ‘tales’ have always been the illustrations, and for the young toddlers who will enjoy these ‘tales,’ those illustrations are intricate and interesting enough to hold their attention, to tell the tale, and to encourage them to come back to the story time and time again. There are 27 of those illustrations in this ‘tale.’

The Tale of Two Bad Mice was the fifth ‘Tale’ that Beatrix Potter had published. (The tale of Peter Rabbit being the first and most famous.) The two mice were modeled after her own pet mice Tom Thumb and Hunca Munka, and the doll house belonged to the niece of her publisher.

It might be a stretch to insist that any serious doll book collection must include this book, but on the other hand, why not? It’s a charming tale, with the classic beautiful illustrations by Miss Potter, and it is one of her few books that will give children a smile… most of her stories are a little dark and sometimes downright cautionary and or sad!

Anatomically Correct Dolls – 7 Good Reasons

1: So that prudes and reactionaries can have something to complain about.

Anatomically Correct Boy and Girl Dolls

Award Winning Anatomically Correct Soft Sculpt Dolls

2: So that social service agencies can help traumatized children deal with good touch – bad touch issues more comfortably, by moving them from the child to the doll.

Aquini Boy Doll on doll's potty

3: So that boys can be more easily be potty trained. (Try explaining to a two year old boy how to tinkle without one.)

4: So that parents can prepare a ‘new’ big sister for the difference, so that they don’t fixate on ‘that’ part when their new baby brother comes home.

A Princess Boy Doll

Our Jacob doll dressed as a girl

5: So that Princess Boys can have dolls that are just like them.

6: So that the blogosphere can have something to post about.

7: So that pregnant mothers can have an anatomically correct boy doll for their ‘Gender Reveal’ party.

The Pattycake Doll company sells thousands of Boy Dolls every year, and we have had anatomically correct boy dolls with a penis since 2003. Girl dolls with a vulva too. Soft Sculpt Cloth anatomically correct dolls, and molded plastic anatomically correct dolls. So far we have never had an anatomically correct doll come back because it was anatomically correct. Maybe it’s because we’ve always been up front on our product pages – with both the words and the pictures. It would be pretty hard to claim you didn’t know what you were buying.

So yes, this posting is a little tongue-in-cheek, because we were a little surprised that people were making a big deal about it. About five or six years ago we got a few ‘comments’ about our down syndrome dolls. That passed, and this  tempest in a teapot will too. And if not? Good! We always sell more dolls when people are talking about them!

Dressing Dolls is Home Schooling

18 in doll's Chef Outfit

18 Inch doll in 18″ Doll’s Chef Outfit

What is a Chef’s Hat called?¹

An 18" Doll's Hanbok

An 18″ Doll’s Hanbok

In what country do women wear Hanboks?²

When I was young child in the decade after World War II, Europeans were still coming to America from the Displaced Persons camps, and one such girl was placed in my kindergarten class in NYC. She had a little doll dressed as a Dutch Girl wearing wooden shoes.

I didn’t know that there were children in the world who wore wooden shoes.

What other lessons can you teach your children with doll’s clothing? What possibilities might they explore?

I never saw a ‘chef’ until I was an adult. Now they’re on 15 different cooking and variety shows. Chefs make a great living, and many travel the world to study foods and cultures. Would you consider letting your daughter become a chef? Do you think buying her a chef’s outfit for her 18″ doll might be a great way to gently expose her to this fabulous career choice?

And finally, the point of this post… do you think they teach this in your children’s schools?

¹ Toque
² South Korea