The Trouble with Paper Dolls

In Isabella’s book Ester Ried, Ester’s youngest sister Julia found herself in trouble, all because of paper dolls.

Ester had charged Julia with taking an important letter to the post-office. Julia obediently started out, immaculate in white apron and white stockings, but then she met temptation in the form of a little girl playing with her paper dolls.

Mascot Bread_Many Lands ed

While Julia was admiring them, the letter “had the meanness to slip out of her hand into the mud!”

Horrified, Julia and the little girl put their wise young heads together, and decided to give the muddy letter a thorough washing in the creek. But no sooner were they standing ankle deep in the mud, vigorously carrying their idea into effect, than “the vicious little letter hopped out of Julia’s hand, and sailed merrily away, downstream!”

Baby in Rocking Cradle

It’s understandable that Julia was a little bewitched by her friend’s paper dolls. Paper dolls were colorful and beautifully detailed little works of art, usually depicting handsome men, beautiful women, and charming children. Paper dolls of fairy tale characters were popular, too, like this set of Tom the Piper’s Son:

Tom Tom the Pipers Son

And this fanciful set from 1912 depicts characters from the story of Aladdin.

Aladdin fairy tale 1912

Because every respectable paper doll needed a suitable paper home in which to live, children could collect paper doll furniture pieces, too. Here’s a cabinet suitable for a paper doll’s fashionable drawing room:

Drawing room cabinet

Paper dolls even had lovely chairs and settees on which to sit.

Drawing room chairs


Drawing room settee
No paper doll drawing room would be complete without a grandfather clock and a decorative screen to block out cold drafts.

Grandfather clock

Drawing room screen

Here’s a paper doll house accessory that Isabella might have liked for herself: a pot of colorful pansies.


Pansies instructions

You can click on any of the paper doll images in this post to open a larger version to print and assemble for yourself.

And click here to see a previous post about paper dolls

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