oudoir, Bed, Flapper, Smoker, Sofa, Salon, Parlor Dolls! All terms used to describe the ornate long limbed dolls popular from the 1910’s well into the 1940’s. The dolls were made throughout Europe and America in different variations. These dolls were constructed from various media; cloth, felt, suede, knit or silk overlay mask face or heads, composition (sawdust mixed with a staying agent such as sugar water or starch placed in a mold) heads with sometimes composition hands and/or arms and feet or celluloid hands. The French dollies sometimes had plaster legs and arms. A few had composition bodies and even twist heads or waists. In later years, the dolls transitioned to hard plastic and vinyl.
arlier dolls had cloth bodies with elongated arms and legs stuffed with anything from what looks like lint out of your dryer to excelsior (wood shavings resembling straw) to cotton batting. They average in size from 24" - 32" with smaller dolls averaging 14" - 18". Some had inset human hair or camel hair eyelashes, glass eyes and sleep eyes. Hair was made from mohair, human hair or silk strands tightly braided in buns that resemble "Princess Leia" from Star Wars. They were beautifully painted with blush, dark eye shadow, bee sting lips in with bright red lipstick and the infamous "beauty mark". They donned lavish satin gowns with lace and ruffles or silk pajamas with cigarettes (smokers) mimicking flappers. Dolls were made to reflect famous people of the times (mostly females actresses) and also historical figures such as Martha Washington and Annabel Lee (Edgar Allan Poe’s wife) and were given out as special promotion free gifts and carnival prizes. In the movie "Chicago" you can see display of "Roxie Hart" dolls.
oudoir dolls were "adult" dolls and not meant to be played with by small children but rather to be displayed as decoration. Some were made from patterns and many times, the owner added some of their own hair as a look alike doll. Older dolls were sometimes sold naked and there were "bucilla" kits that provided everything for the owner to make a lovely dress. The satin shoes and composition hands were also available through mail order if you wanted to upgrade your dollie.
here are stories of the dolls as status symbols. Lobby dolls were sold in the lobbies of hotels for traveling salesmen to purchase as a gift to their wife or daughter when they returned home. They were given as gifts by wealthy suitors to eligible young ladies and then dressed to match the attire of the young ladies when carried as escorts for "protection" on their social engagements. Later, using leftover remnants, they were then dressed in a wedding gown to match that of the bride. It was thought that the dolls were fashioned after poplar actresses of the time as portrait dolls and it is a favorite past time of many to match the dolls up with photographs.
ictures of some boudoir dolls are shown on my doll type web page.
Doll Information Links
Mother Xmas - Boudoir Doll Salon
Denise Van Pattens ~ About Dolls ~ Boudoir dolls