Since the beginning of civilization, man has made images of himself from objects from his environment, either as drawing on cave walls or as figurines made of wood or clay. These dolls or idols were used as a religious or magical status. Today, dolls are defined as a three-dimensional figure representing a human being. Added to this definition, is that a doll is a play toy for children.
Dolls have been found throughout the world from the sarcophagi of Ancient Egypt to the Catacombs in Rome to Native American graves of North America. Dolls tell a story about their past. That is why “the world of doll collecting” provides a treasure of information and holds such interest and joy to all peoples.
In Africa, from Ashanti to Zulu, image sculptures called “ancestor figures” are traditional and religious. These wood carved images represent deceased loved ones. The dolls are used to thank the gods for good health, wealth and a rich harvest. Ancestor’s images permeate an African’s day-to-day existence because of strong powers. There is a doll for each cycle of life-birth, initiation, marriage, and death.
With the rise of the German doll industry in the 19th century, black dolls found their way from the marketplace and into the home of the wealthy. The early black dolls from Germany were crudely made from
Although the Germans were the leading doll manufacturers, the French made more black dolls. Both doll makers Emile Jumeau and Casimir Bru were producing black bisque dolls commercially as early as 1880 and some came with the fired in black color. These luxury French
In 1895, the Golliwogg appears as a black character doll in Florence Upton children’s
In America, handmade and
Early black dolls were made from the same composition mold as while dolls and painted black or brown. After the First World War, the use of unbreakable material such as rubber and celluloid was used to make dolls. As for the rubber dolls, they could be bathed, fed, and diaper changed without damage to the doll. The most popular black rubber doll was “Amosandra” produced by CBS Broadcasting Radio Co. Amosandra was the daughter of Amos from the Amos and Andy Show.
Although, in the 40’s there was an increase of black dolls on the American market,
Since the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, many independent black doll manufacturing companies produced black dolls such as Shindana Doll Co., Keisa Dolls Inc., Whitney Doll Inc., Golden Ribbon Inc., and Olmec Inc.
A noted African American doll artist was I. Roberta Bell (1904-1992), an educator. Ms. Bell was the first black to become a member of the National Institute of American Doll Artist. She created a Heritage series of porcelain dolls representing famous and historical African Americans.
The Philadelphia Doll Museum continues to preserve and