Antique Cloth Dolls



2015-06-26 11:15:47

Antique Cloth Dolls, also known as Rag Dolls, are dolls with bodies made from fabric.

Brief history and description

Although cloth dolls were mass-produced in England and America during the early 1900s, the origins of the cloth doll could date back to the Roman Empire.

Cloth dolls are generally made out of rags and scraps of fabric, however, high-end cloth dolls were made out of cotton, felt, silk or velvet. Many antique cloth dolls have oil-painted faces, and are sometimes clothed with various articles of clothing such as a hat, leggings, panties, garters or shoes.

One popular style of doll (the "Columbian Doll") was designed by Emma E. Adams and sister Marietta, who first introduced the doll at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. (It is said that the "Columbia" doll was a "female personification" of America at the time).

Guide for collectors

"Maggie Bessie" dolls that were produced by the Pfohl sisters in North Carolina during the early 1900s are considered to be the most rare and valuable among antique cloth doll collectors. Male dolls as well as dolls that are still wearing their original clothing and/or accessories are also considered to be rare.

Restoration of an antique cloth doll is recommended, but only if there is noticeable damage. (However, restoring an antique cloth doll will decrease its value).

For more information regarding antique cloth dolls, visit Antique Doll Collectors.


Antique cloth dolls

Bertoia Auctions in Vineland, New Jersey sold an oil-painted cloth doll (circa 1910) wearing an antique brown plaid dress, undergarments and black shoes for $950 in November of 2006.

Maggie Bessie dolls

Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania sold:

  • A male and female cloth "Maggie Bessie" doll (circa 1910; Salem, North Carolina), with oil-painted faces and still in their original clothing for $27,500 in October of 2010.
  • A cloth "Maggie Bessie" doll with an oil painted face and her original pink cotton dress for $13,000 in August of 2009.
  • Another cloth "Maggie Bessie" doll (circa 1910; Salem, North Carolina) with an oil-painted face and her original white slip, panties, stockings and garters for $8,500 in October of 2010.
  • Another cloth "Maggie Bessie" doll (circa 1900 to 1918) with vintage cotton panties and a "replaced" dress for $5,500 in February of 2010.
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