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Collecting Old Dolls
The collecting of old dolls is one of the most delightful of modern hobbies, not only because of the beauty and variety of the dolls themselves, but because of the bypaths of history, biography, literature, manners and customs, superstitions and folklore, sentiment and memory down which collecting leads. Dolls are almost as old as the human race. In Japan, they appear in pictures that were doubtless painted more than two thousand years ago. They have been found in the tombs of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Dolls have been made of many materials: ivory, bone, wood, canvas stuffed with papyrus, rags, papier-mache, china, Parian,which is a soft, white china, unglazed and resembling marble, bisque, composition, clay, shells, sponges, wax, apples, nuts, beads, rubber, rawhide not to mention a few. Through the ages, dolls have served man in many ways. Among primitive peoples they may first have been idols or household gods; wax dolls were sold outside Christian churches in Italy for votive offerings; wooden dolls clustered around the Christmas creche of the infant Jesus to portray the story of the Nativity.
In very early Japan the puppet show supplied entertainment. In the courts of medieval Europe, dolls were messengers of fashion and before there were such things as colored fashion plates, Milliners' Models were sent from France to England and America to show the new styles. French fashion dolls were used in the same way in the latter half of the nineteenth century. How many centuries they also served as the beloved toys of children is a matter of conjecture.
The ancient dolls of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are in museums, where they should be, as are most of the wooden and wax dolls of the eighteenth century. A very few dolls of the time of Queen Anne are still to be had, but the collector generally must look for dolls of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.