Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fashion dolls from long ago

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Loretta reports:

Since a doll plays an important role in Silk is for Seduction,  I was excited to find this pair in the Victoria & Albert Museum

Lord and Lady Clapham date to the much earlier time period of Susan’s historical novels, rather than my books—which makes them all the more wondrous.  Not only have they survived more than 300 years, but they’ve still got their clothes, even their underwear!  Equally thrilling to a Nerdy History Girl, they’re believed to have belonged to descendants of Samuel Pepys.

You can find detailed descriptions of the dolls here and here at the V&A site, as well as more photographs of their attire, including closeups of their little bodies and even their stockings & garters.

They are jointed, and obviously were meant to be dressed and undressed, which makes it even more amazing that they’re in such splendid condition.  Think of all those old Barbies one comes across at yard sales.  No, better yet, think what happens to Barbies once a little girl gets her hands on them.

More children’s treasures at the V&A include this 1835 doll, and this one from a slightly earlier period.

Susan has posted here & here about 18th C dolls.

And if you’re curious about the dollhouse in my story, check out my post on the Shire Library Dollhouses book.


Isobel Carr said...

I love the Claphams! The first time I saw them I was so excited. Have you seen all the amazing gameboards the V&A has? Some of them even have the rules right on them.

Kate Dolan said...

I wonder whether these were meant to be children's toys or "fashion dolls" that would be used to demonstrate the latest fashions to tailors and mantua makers in far off places. Or are they too big for fashion dolls? I admit I know very little about them.

Chris Woodyard said...

Great post, Loretta! Such wonderful dolls in such excellent condition. Love the nightgowns and the tiny shoes. And so rare to find an intact fontange. Congratulations on your new book!

LorettaChase said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

LorettaChase said...

Isobel, I didn't see the game boards, alas. As many hours as I spent there, many areas remained unexplored. Kate, Susan posted about the kind of fashion dolls you're talking about:
These are fashion dolls more in the sense of Barbie being a fashion doll, although it's clear, as the V&A site indicates, that they weren't played with very much. Chris, I know you share my excitement about the dolls--and re new book: thank you!

Jen said...

Loretta, if you're a Pepys fan, have you come across the Pepys Motet? It was commissioned for last year's anniversary and was premiered by choirs who represent elements of Pepy's life, so Cambridge, the Navy and (to drag this back more on topic) early music who came in period costume. You can hear excerpts online at Admittedly I know the composer, but he is a genius!

Kathleen Dames said...

I love the Claphams, especially that they have complete outfits and accessories. Lady C's mask always makes me grin. There are great pictures of them and their accessories in the V&A book Design & the Decorative Arts, Britain 1500-1900.

Two Nerdy History Girls. Design by Pocket