What is a Doll?

How long have we had this love affair with Dolls?

Pearls of Wisdom:

New World Dictionary describes a doll as - "a child's toy, puppet, marionette, etc. made to resemble a human being."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Georgian Period 1714-1830

This transition time embraces the Napoleonic Wars, the madness of King George III, the War of 1812 (1812-1814) and the Regency (1811-1820). This period, from the beginning of the war with France in 1793 to George IV's ascension to the throne in 1820 shows vividly the vast change in England's economic and social face.
The richly decorated gowns worn by wealthy Georgian women were often adorned with an "eschelle stomacher" (a fancy corset designed to be worn in public and adorned with bows of decreasing size) above the waistline and an embroidered and trimmed petticoat below. Ladies' skirts were supported by wide hoops made of cane or rattan, and sometimes laid over quilted under-petticoats. Under the hoops and corset, ladies wore "shifts" (knee-length undergarments with elbow-length sleeves adorned with a froth of lace).

Men suits were made from rich velvets, silks and satins, and decorated with braid, embroidery, and buttons of gold, silver, and jewels. A gentleman's suit consisted of a long and flared coat, sleeveless waistcoast, shirt adorned with lace ruffles at the wrists and neck, and knee breeches. Men also wore silk stockings with embroidered designs at the ankles and high-heeled shoes.
Men also wore wigs for formal occasions. In addition to powdering hair, fashionable men of the period applied makeup (pale powder, rouge, and lip color), as well as carried fans and embroidered silk handkerchiefs drenched with perfume.

Georgian Doll House Reproduction

Early Georgian Period Doll

Wearing of shawls in early 19th century Charles Auguste Racinet's Le Costume Historique (1888)
Empire/Regency and into Victorian period fashions; Notice emergence of the Poke Bonnet
A time for transition in fashion styles.

Both Georgian dolls are hand made Georgina Ritson Original Dolls.

Early 19th century Georgian Period Doll

Georgian Pearl and Rubies pendant, encasing an exquisite child's miniature portrait.

The loss of some of the American Colonies in the American War of Independence was regarded as a national disaster and was seen by some foreign observers as heralding the end of Britain as a great power. In Europe, the Napoleonic Wars dragged on for nearly a quarter of a century, bringing statesmen and national heroes like the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord Nelson home to huge public acclaim.
England moved swiftly from the artisan/cottage industry firmly into the industrial revolution and the fringes of the Victorian age and Edwardian eras that were to follow.

Georgian Children

During the Georgian period children were no longer dressed like miniature adults...

It was the custom for country children to help their parents in the fields, spinning or farming. They might have been bought an occasional toy at the hiring fair when their parents went to obtain new work, where at times gingerbread dolls and crude wooden toys were sold.

Constance Eileen King
Learning to play the girls' game of "Graces" in an elegant manner took practice. In this game, each girl used a pair of wooden rods to toss a beribboned hoop to her partner.

Georgian children of wealthy parents were encouraged to mature quickly, and were expected to do much for themselves. Boys helped to look after the horses, while
young girls waited upon their elders on picnics and other functions. They were taught how to starch their own decorative linens, draw and press flowers and even wash the fine drawing-room china.

Another popular mean of teaching adult graces were at children’s balls that were held regularly.. A foreign visitor in England at the time commented on how “early they cease to be children ”they are as unjoyous and occupied with themselves as the grown ups around them. Though no longer dresses as miniature adults, the early 19th century child was now expected to behave like one.

House of Hanover

The Georgian era is a period of British history, normally defined as including the reigns of the Kings of the United Kingdom of the House of Hanover “The Georges” from George I to George IV who was briefly succeeded by Prince William the Duke of Clarence.

House of Hanover Code of Arms

Queen Charlotte and Queen Marie Antoinette of France kept a close relationship. Never meeting face to face they kept corresponding in pen and paper. Marie Antoinette confided in the Queen of Great Britain of her worries upon the outbreak of the French Revolution. After the execution of Marie Antoinette and the bloody events that followed, Queen Charlotte was said to be shocked and overwhelmed that such a thing could happen to a kingdom, and right on Britain's doorstep.
George III's long reign was marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India. However, many of its American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary Wars, which led to the establishment of the United States of America.
"George III and Queen Charlotte and fourteen of their children parading before the public at Windsor Castle in 1781."
Three of the daughters of King George III

King George III, Queen Charlotte and six of their fifteen children.

After the onset of his madness, George III was placed in the care of his wife, Charlotte and she remained supportive of her husband as his illness worsened. She was his legal guardian until her death in 1818.
Good evening Mr. King; Good evening Mrs. King.... "The Madness of King George"
Helen Mirren and Nigel Hawthorne

In the later part of his life, George III succumbed to the throes of a terrible mental illness baffling doctors of the time. Since then it has since been suggested that he suffered from the blood disease porphyria. George III was succeeded by his son George IV, who years later was succeeded by is brother, William IV. After William’s short seven year reign, Queen Victoria, his niece, assumed the British throne thus ending the Georgian Era. Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Endearing Cranford Ladies

The Bygone Days of The Poke Bonnet and Pantaloons
During the late 1820’s, the hourglass Victorian styles gradually became more popular.

Miss Matty Jenkyns, Mary Smith and Miss Deborah
The fashionable shade was often white to denote a high social status (especially in its earlier years); only women solidly belonging to what in England was known as the "genteel" classes could afford to wear the pale, easily soiled garments of the era.

French Fashion Doll mid to late 19th century

The Poke Bonnet is modeled by one of my poured wax dolls.

Exquisite French Fashion Doll mid to late 19th century

Courtesy of Nancy Gerber...Poke Bonnet

Fashion of this time gradually changed to lowered waistlines with wide sleeves such as leg-o-mutton sleeves, ruffled or wide collars covering the upper arms.
As the waistline descended, the corset reappeared. Skirts were gathered at the natural waistline and supported with petticoats or crinolines. Pantaloons were worn and often showed beneath little girls dresses, and the classic Poke Bonnet made its appearance
Poke Bonnet description...

Hood-shaped hat tied under the chin, with a small crown at the back and a wide projecting front brim that shaded the face. It became fashionable at the beginning of the 19th century and was worn by women and children of all ages. The size of the poke bonnet increased until, in 1830, a woman’s face could not be seen except from directly in front. The fashion for small hats, which began in the 1860s, brought the era of the poke bonnet to an end.

A Time of Sense and Sensibility

Between the 1830’s an 50’s a prosperous middle class had been growing in Europe fused with old poor aristocracy relations and young industrialists.
This era was noted for its architecture, social history and cultural vibrancy. The novels of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and Mary Shelley portrayed romantic, gothic and pastoral Georgian
life. This was the time of Keats, Lord Byron and William Blake. It was the era of colorful, evocative poetry.

In the 19th century families were much larger than today. That was partly because infant mortality was high. People had many children and accepted that not all of them would survive.

Kate Greenaway 19th century Children

Schoolmarm ...In the early 19th century the churches provided schools for poor children.
French Fashion Bru Doll...
French Fashion Dolls were dolls made in the 19th century to help educate young ladies how to dress properly for adulthood.

Girls from upper class families were taught by a governess and boys were often sent to public schools like Eaton. Middle class boys went to grammar schools, while middle class girls went to private schools. There they were taught 'accomplishments' such as music and sewing.

Young Emma and her dolls
Until 1882 all a woman's property, even the money she earned, belonged to her husband. Divorce was made legal in 1857 but it was very rare in the 19th century.

Jane Austen's Regency Gentlewomen

Jane Austen wrote six novels published during the Regency period and between 1811 and 1818. The characters are not fabulously rich, but have a comfortable homelife and are wealthy enough to live virtually uninterrupted lives of leisure. Their roles are played out in the drawing room, the assembly room, the Parsonage or Rectory, the fashionable street for promenading, or the grounds of the country house.

Greer Garson and Sir Laurence Olivier as "Lizzie and Darcy" ca. 1940

Beautiful creations by Nancy Gerber.

Courtesy of Nancy Gerber's Atticbabys

The delicate, genteel in appearance, and demure Papier Mache dolls were intended for this market.
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy Colin" ca. 1995

Those sensible ladies of Jane Austen

They talk about fashion and taste, about acceptable manners and unacceptable behavior. Above all else, their conversation concentrates on thoughts of love and marriage. Their mothers despair for the lack of suitable suitors.

Her characters spend their time reading, writing letters, walking, riding, dancing, playing cards, listening to music and enjoying the art of conversation. Their conversation speaks of their own safe and comfortable society.

Surprisingly Regency women of this era have opinions and a knowledge of the facts of life that were denied to later Victorian women. It would be wrong to suggest that all people enjoyed the kind of lifestyle of Jane Austen's characters. Possibly well over half of Europe still lived in discomfort, working hard, living poorly, outside of fashionable clothing and often going to bed hungry.