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Cloth Dolls

Cloth dolls, also known as rag dolls, are dolls constructed of fabric of any type. Cloth dolls have existed since ancient times and come in all shapes and sizes. Most cloth dolls are homemade creations. Cloth dolls were mass produced, however, beginning in the mid 1800s. Cloth doll manufacturers printed the designs for dolls on flat sheets of fabric, then cut out, stitched, and stuffed the dolls. Sometimes, the face was hand painted with oil paints after the doll was assembled.

In 1873, Izannah Walker patented her fabric-stiffening technique, which gave her Solid Comfort cloth dolls the appearance of German porcelain dolls. Other popular cloth dolls include Philadelphia Baby offered in 1900 by the J.P. Sheppard and Co. department store, and Cole Family Dolls made in 1901 by Roxanna Cole of Conway, Arkansas.

By the 20s, European companies were producing high-quality cloth dolls designed by artists and produced by master crafters. These dolls were called art dolls. The founders of Lenci were among these art doll artists. Cloth dolls were also produced as souvenirs of celebrities, such as the king of England.


Quick Facts

  • In the later 1800s, companies began producing fabric for printed cloth dolls. The buyer had to cut out, sew, and stuff these dolls themselves. The process used to make these prints slowly deteriorated the fabric, so very few of these dolls have survived
  • The most famous American cloth doll is Raggedy Ann, who was the subject of children's stories published by Johnny Gruelle. The original Raggedy Ann doll is a homemade doll that Gruelle found in his mother's attic
  • Cutout dolls enjoyed a revival in the '70s. Reproductions of dolls originally printed in 1916 were reproduced, as well as newer dolls including Little Miss Riding Hood and Miss Liberty Belle

Recommended Items at Auction

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19th Century Oil Cloth Doll
Jan 26, 11:00 AM EST
19th Century Oil Cloth Doll
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
Antique cloth doll with composition face
Jan 31, 11:30 PM EST
Antique cloth doll with composition face
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $50- $65
$250 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Cloth Dolls


Apple Tree Auction Center

Apple Tree Auction Center

Cottone Auctions

Cottone Auctions

Converse Auctions

Converse Auctions