18" girl doll by Lenci. Made entirely of felt with a mohair wig. Circa 1920s.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.
Cloth dolls are among the most treasured of vintage collectibles, and no doll collection would be complete without them. There were many different types of cloth dolls made in the twentieth century. Commercially made dolls were produced both in America and abroad. Some of these firms, like those owned by Martha Chase and Edith Flack Ackley, were small home-based companies; other dolls were made by big corporations in large factories. Other American firms include Knickerbocker, Georgene Novelties and Mollye's. Lenci, Deans Rag Book and Raynal were some of the European companies making cloth dolls. The manufactured dolls can have flat, painted, printed or embroidered faces; or molded cloth or felt faces with painted features.
Another type of cloth doll is the homemade doll. Some of these are the maker's own design; most are from purchased or magazine patterns. One type of cloth doll made at home is the cut-and-sew doll. These dolls are printed onto fabric, to be cut out, sewn and stuffed at home. Cut-and-sew dolls may have the clothing printed right on them, or they may have separate clothing pieces.
Many advertising dolls are also made of cloth, and the majority of these are cut-and-sew, although most are assembled at the factory and sold already made up.
Because cloth dolls have been made commercially for over a hundred and fifty years, it is difficult to draw the line between "antique," "vintage" and "modern." Some vintage dolls, like Raggedy Ann and Andy, are still tremendously popular today. It's up to the individual collector to decide which dolls fit in his or her collection.
Other cloth dolls pictured and described on this site:
Thanks to Karen Thorndike for help with this page.
Other sources for this page include:
- "Dolls & Accessories of the 1930s and 1940s" by Dian Zillner
- "More Twentieth Century Dolls" by Johana Gast Anderton
- "Advertising Dolls" by Joleen Ashman Robison & Kay Sellers
Copyright 2006-12 by Zendelle Bouchard.