18th Century Dolls, Dollhouses, and Doll Clothing

Last updated: March 4, 2024

Wooden dolls

The 1733 trial of Joseph Phips and Jane Tinsley provides an interesting glimpse into the industry of making and dressing dolls in the London workshop of William Higgs.

  • V&A T.847-1974 (“Lord Clapham”) and V&A T.846-1974 (“Lady Clapham”), London, c. 1690-1700
  • Letitia Penn doll, 1699
  • Bonhams auction 16877, lot 397, c. 1700
  • MoL 37.33/1, c. 1701-1710; “Child doll with a painted wood head with the remnants of a brown wig. She is dressed in a gown of Indian silk, striped satin blue and white with a narrow red border, embroidered with red tulips, with attached leading strings. Her other clothes include a linen muslin apron and white suede mittens. This doll was for admiring, not playing with. The gown is made from Indian silk embroidered with small flowers.”
  • V&A MISC.264-1978, England, c. 1700-1720
  • Manchester 1922.169, c. 1700-1725; “Wood with rag upper arms, painted fatures. Dressed in wrapper; cream trimmed dress held on with pins; linen/lace cap held on with pins.”
  • KCI AC1774 78-41-178, England, early 18th century
  • MFA 43.1768, England
  • Wallington National Trust 585204, a black wood doll, 1710
  • Skinner Auction 2476, Lot 40, a large Queen Anne lady doll in a mahogany and walnut veneered display case, England, c. 1720
  • RIHS 1985.28.1, a Queen Anne doll, c. 1725
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1958-241, a doll with a leading string on her printed gown; England; doll from early 18th century, gown probably 1770-1780
  • MFA 43.1769, a male doll, England, c. 1730-1740
  • Manchester 1961.250, c. 1730-1740; “Wood and linen, face and neck covered with gesso and painted, glass eyes, remains of fair hair nailed to head. Chemise: linen, cuffs with narrow lace edging tied with pink ribbon. Ribbed cotton petticoat with two rows of pink ribbon round edge. Petticoat: linen, quilted, lined with wool. Ribbed cotton pocket, bound with linen tape. Dress, pink and yellow striped silk, bodice fastening at CF, skirt with front fall; blue silk cuffs and binding round neck and opening; lace edging round neck and opening. Stockings: white woven silk with pink embroidered clocks; shoes, pink figured silk. Necklace: white beads tied with black chenille.”
  • Skinner Auction 2196, Lot 36, an early Queen Anne wooden lady doll, England, c. 1735
  • Skinner Auction 2476, Lot 270, a Queen Anne memorial doll in a giltwood shadow box case, continental Europe, c. 1735
  • V&A MISC.271-1981, England, c. 1740-1750
  • Nordiska museet NM.0151866, a male doll holding a platter of chicken, c. 1740-1759
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1971-1738, doll and original clothing, Great Britain or Europe, 1740-1760
  • Skinner Auction 2476, Lot 70, a Queen Anne lady doll holding a miniature rag doll, England, c. 1750
  • Christie’s Lot 608 / Sale 5746, a very rare George II turned wood baby doll
  • Doll at St. Fagan’s Museum
  • Manchester 1955.21, England, c. 1740-1760
  • National Trust Museum of Childhood 664798, c. 1745-1765
  • A doll “given to Mariana Davis in Paris in 1747, when she was three years old and had just recovered from a dangerous illness … The doll is two feet high, and made of wood. The dress, which is lifted to shew the pincushion on the petticoat, is of red, white, and green striped silk, with a Watteau back. The petticoat is wide and hooped, and has two pockets suspended from the waist; one has a monogram embroidered on it, and the other a coat of arms. The pincushion is also suspended from the waist by a ribbon strap, and hangs quite low on the edge of the petticoat. It is covered with satin, of a salmon-pink shade, with a yellowish ground, but the satin is so faded it is impossble say what the original colours were.” (Pins and Pincushions)
  • Withington auction October 18, 2012, wooden doll c. 1750
  • Mary Merritt Lot 15, England, mid-18th century; a doll with “wooden shoulder head with long neck and graceful features, brown pupilless glass eyes, platinum curled wig, kid body with wooden limbs”
  • Skinner 4005M, Lot 21, “18th Century Doll with Gown and Stays, England, mid-18th century, the figure with carved and painted head, jointed arms, and jointed legs, blue glass eyes, wig, silk gown with floral trim, quilted petticoat, linen/cotton underclothes, and a linen/silk set of stays with baleen boning; with a framed 18th century letter regarding the doll, doll ht. 27 in.”
  • V&A MISC.49&:1 to 3-1963 (“Sophie”), England, c. 1750-1770
  • Nederlands Openluchtmuseum P.1-26, a doll dressed like an unmarried woman from Hindeloopen, c. 1750-1800
  • Nederlands Openluchtmuseum P.1-44, doll dressed like an 18th century baby from Hindeloopen
  • V&A T.90 to V-1980, a fashion doll, England, c. 1755-1760
  • MFA 43.1770, England
  • Centraal Museum 10752, with a papier-mâché head and wooden limbs, and dressed in the fashion of c. 1760
  • Rijksmuseum BK-NM-3396, c. 1760
  • Miss Barwick of the Ilkley Toy Museum, c. 1760
  • Dudmaston National Trust 815064, Jane, 1760
  • National Trust Museum of Childhood 664799, c. 1765-1775; “A jointed wood and fabric doll with a painted wooden head, torso, forearms and hands, and fabric upper arms. Her face has painted features, glass eyes, real dark brown hair in a plait, and earrings - one resin drop missing. The doll is wearing a gold silk dress, with a white muslin bodice trim and layered cuffs. Underneath she has a green-blue quilted petticoat overlaid with net, two white cotton under petticoats, and cotton stockings (one with a hole in it) tied with cream ribbon. She has green silk shoes, tied with cream silk bows, with leather soles. On her head is a white lace bonnet. The doll has a silk leading rein sewn into the back of her dress.”
  • MoL 46.13/1, c. 1770; “This 'Queen Anne' doll was made by an anonymous craftsman, probably in London. Dolls were often purchased at fairs, such as the Bartholomew Fair at Smithfield. The doll making industry thrived in the capital for most of the eighteenth century. It was protected by the government which levied heavy import duties on toys from abroad. This tax regime was relaxed in the 1780s leading to an influx of cheaper imported dolls. The quality of English-made dolls declined as a result.”
  • Christie’s Lot 978, Sale 8004, a carved and painted limewood doll, c. 1770
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1966-169, doll with fashionable clothing, England, 1770-1775
  • V&A MISC.41-1968, England, c. 1770-1775
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1971-1739,A-E, painted wood doll in a silk gown with leading strings, England or Germany, 1775-1785
  • Fries Museum T1959-057, doll dressed in a complete 18-piece costume from Hindeloopen, c. 1775-1799
  • Nederlands Openluchtmuseum P.21-53, a miniature doll dressed like an adult woman from Zaanstreek, c. 1775-1800
  • Nederlands Openluchtmuseum P.34-53, a miniature doll dressed like an adult woman from Zaandam, c. 1775-1800
  • Amsterdam Museum KA 1225.1/5, c. 1776-1799
  • Fries Museum T1941-012, c. 1775-1784
  • Nordiska museet NM.0107718, 1780
  • Bonhams Auction 20914, Lot 62, pair of painted wooden dolls, c. 1780
  • Christie’s Lot 588 / Sale 9494, a turned and carved wood doll, for a baby house
  • Nordiska museet NM.0112941A-H, an 18th century doll in early 19th century clothing
  • Bowes 1970.187.2B/TOY.302, England, c. 1775
  • Christie’s Lot 1179 / Sale 9853, c. 1775
  • V&A MISC.15-1952, England, c. 1770-1785
  • LACMA M.85.229a-c, a male court doll, France, c. 1780
  • Manchester 2013.106 (“Emmaline”), c. 1780-1790; “Wood and cloth body. Wooden head with face and neck covered with gesso and painted, glass eyes, original brown hair nailed to head. Carved wooden hands and feet with jointed cloth arms and legs; olive silk dress, with pink ribbon sash at waist; 2 white cotton petticoats; white linen cap; large brimmed bonnet covered in cream silk.”
  • Ann Proctor's doll, c. 1785
  • DAR 72.33, “Wooden doll with a gesso covered body and head. The face has handpainted features and enameled glass eyes. She is wearing a reproduction costume made from 18th century fabrics consisting of a blue silk robe, a red quilted petticoat and stomacher, an underpetticoat, a pocket and a white cap trimmed with lace. The head and torso are one piece and are jointed at the hip and knees. Arms are strings that terminate in whittled lower arms and hands,” England, late 18th century
  • Rufford Old Hall National Trust 784611, Priscilla, 1790
  • Skinner Auction 2447, Lot 538, a Queen Anne type wooden doll with a turned head, England, late 18th/early 19th century, in early 19th century checked cotton clothes
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2005-102,1, wooden doll with wardrobe, probably England, c. 1790; see also A Well-Loved Georgian Doll and Her Wardrobe, c.1790
  • Christie’s Lot 270 / Sale 4105, an English turned and carved painted wooden doll, late 18th century
  • Christie’s Lot 770 and 768 / Sale 9724, a fine English turned wood doll late 18th century
  • MFA 43.1607, sewing kit in the form of a doll, England, late 18th century
  • Bonham’s Sale 17971, Lot 159, a German doll, late 18th century
  • May Merritt Lot 28, a male doll and a female doll, late 18th century
  • Late 18th century Russian dolls at the Met: 2009.300.1718 and 2009.300.1719
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1958-242, a doll named Hagar Tyler, wooden with a molded plaster head, England, late 18th or early 19th century

Wax dolls

  • Nordiska museet NM.0151865, made in the first half of the 18th century; the black velvet dress is probably a later addition
  • Historic New England 1924.918 and 1924.919, c. 1720-1725; “These extraordinary objects, made by the teen-aged daughter of a well-to-do Boston, Massachusetts, family, are the only American-made free-standing figures known to have survived from the eighteenth century. Wax work, like fancy needlework, was among the artistic skills considered important in the education of young girls during this period. Sarah Gee supported these figures on armatures and used colored beeswax and real fabric trimmed with lace dipped in wax for their bodies. They are protected by their original English bell jars and mounted on turned wooden pedestals made to fit the jars.”
  • V&A W.183:7-1919; petticoat had a note pinned to it saying “Mrs Powell Wedding Suit 1761”
  • Nordiska museet NM.0025851, a doll dressed in a Norwegian bridal gown from Telemark, made c. 1770-1779
  • National Trust Museum of Childhood 668426, c. 1780; “A wax head and shoulder doll with moulded and painted facial features and brown hair. Her lower arms and boots are wax. The body is made of stuffed fabric. On her head she wears a red skull cap with tinsel decoration. Her short sleeved dress of cream fabric has silver coloured spots. Both the hem and skirt are decorated with tinsel. Underneath is a cream cotton petticoat with a serrated hem. A long red train, which has a plain backing, is attached to her shoulders and is again decorated with tinsel. The fabric is badly worn. She stands on a round wooden base to which she is held by wire. A red and cream fabric decoration (possibly flowers) is at her waist.”

Other dolls

  • Paper cutout dolls made by Susanna Duncombe (née Highmore): Tate T04306, Tate T04307, Tate T04308, Tate T04309, Tate T04310
  • PVMA 1885.40.07, a rag doll (named “Bangwell Putt”) made for a blind girl (Clarissa Field of Northfield, Massachusetts), c. 1770
  • Nordiska museet 0022622A-B, a pair of dolls made of silk wrapped over wire, c. 1770-1779
  • National Trust Museum of Childhood 665109,England, 1785; “A small, stuffed, calico doll with painted facial features and blonde hair. She has paper or card hands with only one remaining finger. She is wearing a cream muslin dress with pin tucks in the skirt and bodice, a muslin cap with ribbon trim and red ribbon shoes. Beside the doll, on a stand, is a cream silk hooded cape, a cream muslin dress with pin tucks and a twisted wire cane.”

Doll clothes

Dolls’ houses and “baby houses”

There are a lot of detailed photos of dollhouse furniture and related miniatures on Bildindex.

Doll furniture

Depictions of 18th century children with dolls