When I was a little kid, I didn’t declare to the world: “Some day I am going to grow up and sell dolls on the internet.” Consequently, when I founded The Pattycake Doll Company with my wife, although I knew about small business formation and retailing, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about dolls. So I started studying my new ‘field.’
I learned some interesting uses for dolls historically. Like:
Some of the oldest dolls were made as fertility dolls. Like the Venus of Willendorf – almost 30,000 years old.
Dolls were also used to cast curses… it was pretty powerful stuff for those folks, make an effigy or a doll of your enemy, and then burn it up.
Most of the early dolls in 1700’s America came from Britain and France as Fashion Dolls. The dolls were dressed in the latest European Fashions, and then sent to America for the gentry to copy. The original knock-off trade!
Speaking of fashion dolls, another ‘traditional’ American use for a doll was to teach little girls sewing. Before they were trusted with hard to get and expensive patterned cloth, they practiced their skills on doll clothes.
Finally the most common use for dolls… as a lovey or security objects or for cuddling and comfort. Traditionally families had lots of children, and it was common for the older ones to help with the younger… there wasn’t much playing with dolls. But that didn’t mean that they didn’t have cloth dolls and rag dolls to love and cherish. But the porcelain and bisque headed baby dolls that we are all so familiar with now? They are fairly recent as a toy for children. Baby dolls for children didn’t really gain traction until the late 1800’s… first in Europe and then later in the US.
Recap: 5 Traditional uses for Dolls
Voodoo and Hexes
Snuggle and Sleep