think adults collecting dolls is a recent fad? think again. quite apart from the mid-20th century antique doll shows, with their now-ubiquitous blue ribbons for the grandest attic finds, women have been collecting dolls specifically made for them at least since the 17th century
fashionable Georgian ladies had to have ways to learn the latest fashions from France, the seat of style and taste. but human-sized samples of gowns and accessories were costly to make and difficult to transport. the solution came with a name: Pandora
two Pandoras, actually. for the woman of means, a petite Pandora for everyday clothes and a grand Pandora for formalwear were necessities. with inset glass eyes and real rooted hair (glued to a slit in the head), the wooden dolls weren’t just mannequins, they were art in their own right. gradually the custom of purchasing miniature fashion samples for one’s Pandoras and showing them to the seamstress died out, but Pandoras remained a popular display item for years afterwards
fast forward to the 1920s and you have the boudoir dolls. they were highly stylized, slender dolls with cloth-stuffed bodies and masklike painted faces- and they did not depict children. with thin, arched brows and deep red cupid’s bow lips, these dolls were flappers through and through. they were a fad and a decorative object, but also much more. movie stars were photographed with their boudoir dolls. some women brought them to parties. this trend caused some consternation among the male powers-that-were, who believed caring for dolls cooled women’s desire to care for children. one professor Max Schlapp wrote, “these exaggerated dolls are the temporary whim of abnormal women. I use the word advisedly, because women who are normal have children and have no time to waste on baubles.”
Mr. Schlapp was clearly allergic to fun
so the next time you see someone mocking a collector of ball-jointed dolls or art dolls, remember: “not intended for children” has a long, illustrious history. and grown-ass adults can do what we want
Alchemist: This is a short piece that we made originally for @liliesanthology. Though it wasn’t accepted, we decided to polish it up a bit more and share it here instead. Here’s a look at Effie and Irene, a lesbian couple in the twenties, taking a breather outside while at their friend’s tarot-reading occult party.