Saturday, July 7, 2012

First Post: The Vintage Paper Dolls

I love to go to estate sales and yard sales.  I usually find interesting things; sometimes I buy them.  I usually meet nice people, although some folks at these sales are...well, I can't quite put my finger on it, but they're Different.

For my first post, I want to share some pictures of vintage paper dolls that I found at an estate sale....

These paper dolls were in a large flat cardboard box.  Most of them appear to date from the 1930s and '40s.  Whoever the previous owner was, she must have cherished them because she had saved the dolls and their outfits very carefully.   This girl had Shirley Temple paper dolls in two sizes, a set of three Deanna Durbins (each with an extensive wardrobe), a very large Jane Withers doll, and a number of little paper dolls that she must have cut from children's magazines. 

Not content with regular paper dolls, the previous owner had also cut pictures from fashion magazines or catalogs and played with them too. Each one had a name written on the back in pencil. I can just imagine a little girl, maybe 75 years ago, making up stories to go with the characters' names. For example, the pink-dressed doll at the bottom of the above photo is "Emily Watson." The one in the black dress is "Lena Shade." (I wonder if Lena was the villainess?) 

Come to think of it, the outfits on these dolls appear to be from a time earlier than the 1930s.  I wonder if the previous owner had inherited someone older's paper doll collection, or if she was given a stack of old magazines to cut up? 

(Do little girls play with paper dolls anymore?)

Garrison Keillor famously said, "Nothing you do for children is ever wasted."  Whoever gave this little girl the gift of imagination, gave her many hours of inexpensive, creative entertainment.  I was pleased to have the chance to peek into her childhood and see what she valued enough to keep for more than half a century.

What happened to the paper dolls?  Well, I can't keep everything I find at estate sales; if I did, I'd either need a 15,000 square foot house to store stuff in, or someone would nominate me to be featured in a "reality" TV show about people with the inability to Let Things Go.  I sold most of the paper dolls on eBay, but I kept the smaller of the two Shirley Temple dolls and her outfits.  I may need something to play with, on a rainy day.  :)

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