In January I bought a box full of vintage paper dolls at an auction, and really enjoyed going through and sorting them out so I could list them on eBay. Most of them were from the late 1930s and early 1940s. There were some movie stars, including two different sets of “Gone with the Wind” paper dolls. One of them, pictured below, featured dolls of every major character from the film with multiple outfits for each one. It was put out by Merrill Publishing Co. in 1940.
There was also a Deanna Durbin set, published by Merrill in 1941.
The ’30s and ’40s paper dolls had the most wonderful artwork. Look at this fabulous set of Polly Pepper Paper Dolls, published by Saalfield in 1936.
Military paper dolls were very popular during World War II. This is Navy Scouts, issued by Merrill in 1942.
Lots of newspapers had paper dolls, usually in the Sunday comics section. Many of them were fashionable ladies. This Halloween themed doll is so cool.
In trying to identify my dolls, I consulted several books by Mary Young. I also found Paper Goodies from Judy’s Place, a great website for the vintage paper doll lover. Most of the paper dolls published now are for collectors, not for children, and there are many reproductions of vintage sets available.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s, and although paper dolls were still being produced then (lots of Barbie sets) the golden age was over. I never played with them as a kid, although I appreciate them now. What about you?