The History Of Peg Wooden Dolls

Most dolls today are made of vinyl and polyurethane resin which make these dolls appear to have smooth and almost human skin like texture. Yet the earliest models were made of natural materials and one of the most valuable dolls to collect is vintage wooden dolls.

Although wood had been the first known material that were used by craftsmen to create dolls in ancient times in Egypt, the earliest collectible dolls made of wood were first handcrafted in England around the 1680s. Dolls in this period were referred to as the William or the Mary dolls.
Artisans had been creatively carving wooden figures for religious purposes and especially for children. This is also the time that many of the early European traders have found the value of trading in the early 1700s. The proliferation of peg wooden dolls have expanded around this year when artists were handcrafting creations that manifest the features of people in that century. These dolls have jointed legs and their body and head are usually carved together. Models made in the 1700s to 1750 were the Queen Anne dolls and were referred as such since they wear stylish dresses of that era. These dolls were mostly made with pine wood and were lavishly designed with exquisite ornaments and embroidered clothing. The dolls were mostly intended for adults rather than for children.
A Queen Anne had a head and body that were carved together from one piece while their arms and legs are jointed. The doll’s dress was not removable and was secured onto the body of the doll unlike the typical removable dresses of today’s dolls. From the 1750 to the 1800, dolls made in this period were called Gregorian and the dolls were distinct from the previous period. The dolls’ wooden heads are now covered with gesso and were painted while the eyes were made of glass and are typically colored blue. The end of the torso is now pointed while the hair wigs are made of flax.

In the early 1800s, there were already several wooden doll makers who started a series of doll creation especially in Grodner Tal of Bavaria Germany. The dolls created in the town had tuck comb hairs with curls and the makers usually make dolls with pine wood. Some wooden dolls of Grodner Tal measure around 3 inches to 5 inches and yet most are within the range of 10 inches to 18 inches. The creation of peg wooden dolls had then become a cottage industry during this era.
By the late 1800s, people saw more artists who have contributed masterpieces that are now considered collectible today. The craft continue until the early 1900s with some well known craftsmen such as Joel Ellis, Henry Mason and Luke Taylor. Mason and Taylor’s dolls were characterized by a doll head with a neck joint. They even hold the patent for this doll characteristic. However by the mid 1900s, the peg wooden doll craft has declined with the rise of vinyl made dolls and the use of other materials such as resin.