Wooden Dolls

Every suitable material you can imagine has gone into doll making. But from earliest times wood has been the favorite material from which to carve or whittle a toy baby or a small figure of a boy, a girl , a man, or a woman. The first wooden dolls to be made from a pattern so that they all looked alike came from Germany. Records show that a dollmaker named Ott worked in Nuremberg as early as 1413. Later the peasants of the Thuringian Forest made wooden dolls in the quantity. During the long winter months, the foresters occupied themselves by carving dolls. It was not long before traveling merchants discovered the dolls and began to sell them all over Europe. In time they were also sold in the United States. These dolls became known as peg dolls or Pennywoodens.

Hand-carved wooden dolls still are made in almost every country. Germany and Switzerland are especially noted for them. Among the most famous wooden dolls made in the United States were the Springfield dolls introduced by Joel Ellis in 1873. They were named after the little town in Vermont where Mr. Ellis started his factory. The heads of these dolls were made of hardwood that was steamed and pressed into shape. The bodies were molded on a lathe, and the arms and legs were joined to them with steel pins. The Springfield dolls set the pattern for other dollmakers to follow.

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