10769.1 | Lady Blanche Paulet

Lady Blanche Paulet
1862, 19th century
69.5 x 22.5 cm
Gift of E. Portia MacKenzie, 1962 (Emma Carleton Jack Memorial Collection)
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Wax dolls were made in many countries in the 19th century. However, English dolls were superior in fabrication and it was not uncommon to find doll heads available for purchase without the accompanying manufactured bodies. Many French fashion dolls of the period came complete with full wardrobes and accessories, but the heads used would have been imported from England, where they were produced in great quantity.

The head of Lady Blanche Paulet is composed of translucent wax over painted paper composition. The oval eyes are of milchglas. The slightly modelled nostrils and mouth are emphasized in the underpainting on the composition form. There has been some fading of the face and now only vestiges of the painted eyebrows and lips remain. Her coif of human hair is knotted and attached to a dark-brown band of cloth and is held to the shell of the head with small pins.

As was typical, the body of the doll is handmade. The one-piece body shares many of the characteristics of mid-19th century dolls. The seams are sewn with a running stitch and the main seam for the torso runs vertically along the centre of the back; tucks at the sides give the doll a waistline. A vertical seam on the chest indicates the opening through which the body and legs were filled with sawdust stuffing. The hips are sewn with a basting stitch that forms a flat hinge joint; darts at each side give slight form to the hips. The arms are made of kid leather to the elbow and thereafter cotton, stuffed with sawdust, and they are stitched to the body at the shoulders. The forearms have one seam on the outside and end in hands composed of four fingers with an inserted, opposing thumb.

  • What

    Kid leather is made from the soft, supple hide of young goats.

  • Where

    Most wax-head dolls were made in England, France and Germany.

  • When

    Dolls with wax over composition heads were produced in great quantity and were popular between 1840 and 1870.

  • Who

    This doll may have been purchased at the store of F.A. Cosgrove in Saint John, New Brunswick, since he advertised wax, kid, cloth and wood dolls for sale in 1862.