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.
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.