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Guide to the Paper Doll Collection
ca. 1850-1953
  PR 161

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on December 27, 2019
Description is in English.

Historical Note

The precursor to paper dolls were the French pantins, human figures printed with detached limbs meant to be re-attached with string. Paper dolls as we know them today, human figures with changeable costumes, were first manufactured in England in the late 18th century. The earliest paper dolls printed in America were made in the early 19th century. By the 1870s, paper dolls had become quite popular in the United States; production of sets of dolls increased as their popularity grew and as chromolithography made color printing more cost effective. Paper dolls were made and sold by commercial firms both for children to play with and for adults to observe current fashion trends. Women's magazines and newspaper supplements often included cutouts of paper dolls and/or their clothes.