Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Paper Dolls

I got out these Curious George paper dolls to play with E and Z this weekend.

I had bought them last winter, after my sister sent me this paper doll, because it reminded her of the paper dolls we used to play when we were little.

Of course she was referring to The Ginghams.  We used to get these (and other) paper dolls at the drug store (Skaggs, I think it was called, of all things).  I had willed all my paper dolls to my youngest sister when I moved away from home, but I demanded their return and she sent them back to me.

Quite a few of The Ginghams have survived the years (though Grandma is missing her head).

And they still have quite a substantial wardrobe.  I wasted quite a bit of time noodling around on the internet, looking to see if you can still get these nowadays.  There are a few available on Etsy and Ebay (at hefty prices, some) and some websites where you can download some of the sets and print them out yourself (our printer is not very good and I'd be a little embarrassed to take them to the print shop!)

I wish Golden Books would reissue them, but like other revivals (e.g. Strawberry Shortcake), they would probably get tarted up, and we'd have Becky's Boudoir and Sarah's Saloon.  Probably better to leave well enough alone.

In the stash were also these Dolly Dingle Around the World paper dolls.  I both love the costumes and am a little appalled by the cultural stereotypes.  Some of the friends and dolls and pets have pretty offensive names.  I'm kind of glad I don't have to worry about whether I'd let my kids play with these due to gender stereotypes--the boys showed little interest in Dolly Dingle.

Even through Dolly looks EXACTLY like Z (other than the ringlets and the silly hat):  the brown eyes, round rosy cheeks and mischievous grin, exactly like his, though he's beginning to outgrow this look a bit.

There were also these:  Fanny May and Betsy Rose (in an envelope marked "Scary Dolls" in my sister's handwriting).  I got them at a store called The Rambling Rose in the Cinder Alley section of Cinderella City (the local mall in Englewood).  I loved that store.  It was full of girly goodness.  The only part I remember really clearly was a jeweler's case with revolving shelves completely full of dollhouse furniture.  The rest is just a dim, flowery, cozy memory (except these paper dolls, of course).  I thought there was a baby too, but it did not make it back to me with the other two.

And then there were the catalog paper dolls.  My grandma always had past-season pattern catalogs for some reason, and when we were at her house, my sister and my two youngest aunts and I would cut out paper dolls from their pages.  E and Z are lucky they're not girls, or I'd get busy making them some of these rockin' retro short-short dresses.

There were even paperdolls cut out from wrapping paper.

And a whole bunch of miscellaneous pieces and parts form Barbie, Malibu Skipper, Jean Jeans, Strawberry Sue, The Sunshine Family, Best Friends, Colonial Paper Dolls and two others I didn't even recognize or remember who also have international costumes.  I can't bring myself to recycle the stray pieces.

After reliving my paper doll history, I had to get some for my boys.  I found Curious George and some knights (which I haven't presented to them yet) from Dover, one of the few places that paper dolls can even be found these days (and they have some cool ones--but they all require cutting; no pop-out ones).  When I first introduced George to the boys last year they were a little young for them--they wanted to cut them out themselves but did not have the dexterity.  I've been waiting for a snow day to bring them out again, but they're usually so busy playing Lego's when it's not nice out, and when it is nice, I like to throw them outside.  I finally gave up on the perfect conditions and just sat down and started cutting.  They joined right in.  This time, they did not insist on cutting the dolls, but just cut around them to make it easier for me to cut the details.  Then they dressed up George (luckily, the set came with two dolls).  

That's about as far as they got.  They lost interest after a while, but I plan on bringing them out more often than once a year, and will eventually bring out the knights too.  It's not quite the same as The Ginghams, but sitting and cutting paper and dressing up dolls is still a lot of fun.


  1. I am absolutely gasping at the paper doll collection! I had a few, but nothing like that. They are so freaking darling. Where can one get good paper dolls these days? I know Dover publications makes some, and I'm always tempted to put in an order with them since they have so much fun stuff. We do have one set of historical "every day" people put out by a Canadian history museum (that I got for 50 cents at the thrift store, uncut.) This post has me super inspired. Have you seen The Black Apple's paper doll book? I've thought about getting that too.

  2. Dolly Dingle!?! What a hoot. And what a good bunch of sons you have that appear to be just as happy spending an afternoon playing with dolls as they are sledding. Hats (and shirts and pants and shoes!) off to their mama!

  3. Where in the world you bought these? I am dying to have these for my kids.

  4. Jaimie--The Black Apple book looks interesting. Dover has some neat paper dolls, but they generally seem more arty and realistic than fun for little kids. There is a big selection, though.

    I also got these flower fairie paper dolls ( for some little friends of ours. They're cool because they're two-sided (and punch-out!).

    And these Little House on the Prairie paper dolls look fun

    Sopheea--The Curious George and Little Pioneer Girl are both from Dover. The rest are from the '70s, but Dolly Dingle is still in print (itself a reprint from the 30s or 40s)

    And if you google "the ginghams paper dolls" you can find some sites where you can download and print off some of the original gingham paper doll designs.

  5. Oh no, you are killing me with the suggestions! I love Cicely Mary Barker's fairies. I'm going to have to get those for the girls for Christmas. And Little House paper dolls! Those are going on the list too.

  6. Wow. What a trip down memory lane (Skaggs, Cinderella City). And what a paper doll collection! I wish I had kept my paper dolls. I had a Victorian set with all the fancy gowns that I loved.


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