Friday, October 5, 2012

L&B Articulated Paper Doll Sets and Sheet Examples

Collecting original L&B "Littauer & Boysen" Victorian articulated paper dolls from the late 1800's has been an incredible journey and I'm always looking to learn more about them.
Today I wanted to give you a bit more information on L&B Articulated paper dolls and the items they produced, based on the information I've been able to discover so far.

The Ballerina and "Prima Donna" jointed paper dolls were made in Germany by L&B (Littauer and Boysen) which was one of the top chromolithograph printers of the day. They produced these dolls under their L&B brand and made others to be distributed here in the US by the Dennison Manufacturing Company.  The dolls were made in several sizes and some were available as a single doll, some in sets of 3 and there were also accessory sheets of arms and legs that could be purchased with sets of 3 sets per sheet. The "Prima Donnas" as they were named by Dennison Co in their catalogs, are these Bloomer Girls.  Many of the dolls were available in various sizes. The smaller dolls assembled were 6 inches and the tallest assembled doll is stated to be nearly 17 inches tall.

The "Prima Donnas" are suppose to be three of the top actresses/performers of their day.
The blond in blue is presumably Della Fox
The brunette in red is most likely Lily Langtry 
The brunette in yellow could be Maud Branscombe or Mary Anderson.
(I welcome any information on the true identity of these ladies,  so if you have additional
 information on these I'd love to hear it, just leave a note of send me an email - grins)

One of the more common and easy to collect set of "Prima Donna" dolls by L&B "Littauer & Boysen"
The above set of dolls is one of the easier sets to find and collect.
I've purchased several of these dolls individually over the years but it is a special treat 
to find them in attached sheets as you see here. I made several digital fixes to this sheet as well as adding in the torsos so you could see what a complete set would look like.
(Many of the L&B doll parts are interchangeable but as far as I know these three are the only ones officially sold as "Prima Donna" dolls. The rest of the L&B articulated ladies seem to be ballerinas.)

The dolls in this set are the large size and in their assembled state would create 14" dolls; they do not wear necklaces; but their was also a smaller 6 inch set (see farther below in the post) of them where they are wearing necklaces.  This is one distinction that seems to be common with the smaller dolls made by L&B, and sets them apart from the bigger dolls.
Just another reason to keep collecting. - grins

Various sizes of  Original L&B Ballerina dolls in my personal collection

There are probably other sizes of these dolls floating around out there but these are the main sizes I have in my collection.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the sizes of the middle two dolls when they arrived, since most of my dolls are the larger 14-15" size when assembled.
According to the 1905 Dennison catalog I own, there was a 16 3/4 inch Prima Donna
sold by them but I've yet to personally find one that once assembled is that large.
You can see more information on my 1905 Dennison catalog HERE

A page from my 1905 Dennison catalog showing the doll sizes and prices.
 The above page from my Dennison 1905 catalog shows the various dolls and sizes they were still selling in 1905.  Dennison purchased their dolls from L&B, assembled them with eyelets and sold the dolls to complement their line of crepe paper which you could use to decorate the dolls.

According to the 1905 catalog Dennison sold the Prima-Donna "bloomer dolls" in the 2 larger sizes (of 9 3/4 inches and 16 3/4 inches) and there were three designs to choose from.  This would be the 3 dolls shown at the top of the post.  I know for a fact that L&B also made these dolls in the smaller 6" size but Dennison was not selling them in 1905.

The ad page also shows three sizes for the ballerinas 5 3/4, 9 1/4, and 13 3/4 inches.
The two larger ballerinas came in 3 designs
(possibly the three shown farther down on this post)
while their was a fourth option in the smallest size.
I'm still looking for a late 1800 or early 1900 Dennison catalog that shows
pictures of these dolls since L&B made more than 4 ballerinas over the years.

I know that L&B produced more than 4 ballerinas but I've not yet seen more than 3 Prima Donnas.
Since the dolls were originally produced in the late 1800's it is possible that prior to 1905 Dennison sold other dolls made by L&B not represented in the 1905 Dennison catalog; however I'm not finding where Dennison sold the uncut L&B dolls sheets so I believe those were sold elsewhere.
I also find it interesting that Dennison was selling the smaller ballerinas
but not the smaller Prima Donnas (bloomer girls), it just seems a bit odd to me.

I don't yet own an original set of the 6 inch Prima Donna - bloomer girls; however a free
digital set I located on the Internet years ago is what started me collecting the real thing.
(Update 2013 - I have finally added a set of these to my personal collection!)

You can find the above mentioned set of mini Prima Donnas  - HERE
courtesy of

My Pastel version of the doll set found at

I enjoyed crafting with the doll images from so much
that I also made this pastel version as an alternate option.
Please note the necklaces the ladies wear in this set, which distinguish them as a 6" set of dolls.

So far none of the larger versions of these "Prima Donna" dolls I've collected wears a necklace.
It will be interesting to see if I ever run across a large L&B "Prima Donna" with one.

Some of the Large ballerinas have necklaces like the Royal paper doll from my previous post - HERE as do some of the other ballerinas missing from my collection (see the bottom of this post for photos).

L&B also created a set of 3 Ballerinas in attached sheets similar to the Prima Donna set
sadly I've not been able to collect a fully intact set (Heads and Legs).
I will post what I have so you can see what it should look like if complete.

An intact sheet of L&B Ballerina legs - these would be the legs for the large size paper doll

The original set had some minor flaws and the slippers had faded
in color so I did a bit of digital correcting to make them more presentable.
In truth the the green slippers were also so close in color to the blue slippers that
I enhanced them so they did not look like a pale reflection of the blue ones.
I like variety in my ladies so I thought you might like three distinct pairs of slippers as well.

If I'm able to get an attached set of heads to go with the ballet legs they would look similar to this set.
An attached set of mini ballet girls by L&B
Sorry but this is the only image I have of what an attached set of ballet girl heads looks like and you can tell from the necklaces they wear that they would be the mini 6" version and not the large ladies I'm looking for.  I actually own a full size of the first two ballerinas and a mini 6" size of the last doll but she came with the incorrect Prima Donna bloomered legs and gloved arms when I bought her.

I figure if I buy enough of these dolls I'll eventually have all the right parts
to the right dolls but it sure does take a lot of time to get them. - grins

Here are the larger ballerina heads to go with the set of attached ballet legs

 I digitally re-created the set of ballerina heads from parts and pieces in my collection.
This way I have the digital version of all the necessary heads to go with the full set of ballet legs.

-The Pink Doll represents the Actress - Lillian Russell and you can see her doll - HERE 
- The Middle Doll is Opera Diva Adelina Patti and you can see her doll - HERE
The Blue Doll is possibly actress Pauline Hall - I've not posted her doll yet, but soon.
L& B also created a set of black ballet legs and gloves that could be used with the other doll parts in the collection.  These too were made in a sheet of 3 attached legs and gloved arms; however I've yet to see a fully intact sheet of them but when I do...
A partially intact set of L&B black ballerina legs and gloved arms
 So far I've only seen a partial set still attached
(sorry I can't recall where I found this web image, it was years ago)
I was lucky enough to purchase a pair of black arms and legs with one of my
L&B purchases a while back; unfortunately one of the arms broke in the
shipping process.  I did make digital repairs and have recently made some fun
modifications that I'll share on a later post.

My Broken Della Fox Doll with black stockings and gloves - snap
The seller did not pack my doll properly for shipping and so this
is what she looked like when she arrived.  She did discount the sale
due to this and I was able to make the necessary digital repairs but
now I need to find another set of black accessory parts
to add into my "original" collection.

Next time I'll try for an attached set or a full sheet.

This is what the digitally repaired parts now look like.
New and Improved - digitally repaired L&B black ballet paper doll parts
The "black" digitally repaired ballet set makes a nice addition to mix and match
with the the other L&B parts already posted and those I've still to post.

Black Torso to work with the black ballet limbs
A black torso makes a great under layer for the other black ballerina parts.
This one should be an exact color match to the legs and gloves when you print it.


I have many dolls yet to post and several more beauties I'm still hope to one day acquire in my ever growing collection.  On occasion while surfing the web I get a glimpse of an L&B articulated lady or those similar to them which I can't wait for the chance to get my hands and scanner on.

Here are two more L&B ballet beauties I'd especially love to own or
get a good digital version if I can't have the original.

These two beauties were photographed at the 2008 Paper Doll Convention and belong to a Jan McKay - lucky lady!

When I pulled up this photo to post it here I noticed the the labels on the two torsos here is identical to a label on one of the torsos of a L&B Prima Donna dolls in my collection. Now it makes me wonder if the more common L&B doll I own was ever in the same collection these two beauties originally came from????
Maybe one day I'll have the fortune to add these two and many more to my collection.
(These ballerinas are wearing necklaces and they are the larger 14" size dolls)

Interesting side note - Each of the L&B paper dolls has a distinct bodice design except
I've found two that are nearly identical and I have to wonder why that might be???
The top left doll in yellow has the same necklace and bodice style
of one of my L&B dolls you will see in an upcoming post.
different doll heads but with same bodice style and necklace???
The two ladies favor each other a bit in the face and since they have the same style of bodice and wear the same necklace...are they sisters, are they the same actress just in two different versions???
It just seems a bit odd that the two ladies have the same necklace and same bodice style
when I've not seen this before with any of the other L&B articulated dolls.

Another L&B mystery for me to add to my growing list.

(Again if anyone out there is knowledgeable about L&B 
articulated paper dolls: I'd love to hear from you.)

Another of the L&B Beauties I'm still hunting is this one.

I keep missing the boat on getting this doll in my collection.
It seems like I keep missing out on getting this doll.
Either she sells for too much, is too damaged or, like this summer; I went on vacation
and lucky bidder got an assembled one in near mint condition for less than $25. 
Oh well - one day I'll have one of my very own!!!

(update 06-2013 - I recently purchased a fully in tack L&B #2686
from vintage paper seller Geno Sartori in NYC  - lucky me)

So far there are 7 L&B Ballerinas that I'm aware of
and there could be others I've yet to discover.

I'm also on the lookout for Victorian scraps of beautiful ladies that would work
with the other L&B doll parts.  This week an interesting pair of assembled and decorated articulated dolls in the style of the L&B ladies were on eBay.
They sold for close to $40 with shipping.
Other embossed articulated ballerina paper dolls - not L&B
I do not believe these two dolls are L&B but they do favor them in a remarkable way.

L&B ballerina arms have bracelets on them, the torsos show skin at the shoulder/upper arm
and the legs are more detailed/better embossed than these; but I sure would love to know
who manufactured these dolls since I love the faces on these ladies.
The heads were of an especially good quality compared to the arms and legs
and have really peaked my curiosity.

I considered bidding on the beauties but after asking the seller a few questions I discovered the crepe paper was glued to the font of the bodices and I did not think I'd be able to digital restore them properly.  You have to pick your battles wisely, so I let them go to another bidder.
I do like the way they were decorated and thought you might get inspiration from seeing them too.
(also - if you know who manufactured these two beauties - drop me a note and let me know.)

Update 10-21-12: Just my luck, sigh! 
It appears I missed out on these 4 doll heads on an eBay auction that ended 10-16-12.
This set of c1880 embossed heads came out of an old scrapbook and what beauties they are.
If you notice the blue lady on the top left and the green lady on the bottom right
are the same ladies  used on the above set of dancing dolls. 
Victorian embossed paper scraps from vintage scrapbook
 According to the seller each head measured 5 1/2 inches tall so my guess is the German manufacturer made these in several sizes since the assembled dolls don't have heads that large.
These would have been great to scan and then size down to use with the L&B doll parts.
Oh well, I've now adjusted my eBay search so maybe next time I'll not miss out on a gem like these.
The auction winner got them for $26 including shipping.

I hope you enjoyed the more traditional L&B dolls I've posted for you to play with today.
I'm just getting started so check back soon to see which  L&B paper doll
I've altered and the variety of color choices she now comes in.

Till Next Time...


  1. Hello,
    Interesting history of these ballerinas, I think I'll do more research, thank you! The second picture shows very well how the ballerinas are assembled and how they must have especially in the central part and for the arms, because I did not think it was like that. They have very beautiful faces with their delicate features. I love the Victorian era where it was very beautiful drawings of lovely ladies and their beautiful costumes.
    Thank you sooooo much for sharing such beautiful things!

    1. Thanks Sylvie - I have been collecting these L&B (Littauer & Boysen) dolls for several years and I love them all - dents, dings, scratches, holes, rips,broken parts and all. Sadly there is not a lot of information out there on the Ballerina and Prima Donna dolls that I've been able to locate; but if you find any good resources please let me know. I'm always looking to farther my L&B paper doll knowledge.

      Here are a few resources you may want to look at on the web. (gives some co information) (shows L&B items in her collection)


  2. Thanks for sharing the images and information. I didn't know anything about the history of articulating paper dolls and I really enjoyed reading about your journey collecting them.

    1. Hi Val - I'm so glad you are enjoying the posts. I have a blast collecting these fun jointed paper dolls and am always trying to find out more about them...but it's not easy.

      The information age of the internet helps some in unlocking a few truths but sadly many of the old time and very knowledgeable collectors of these aging gems have not shared their wisdom in a way that is easy to access. My hope is that they will be passing on what they know to a younger generation that will blog or post all the juicy information I'm still wanting to learn. A girl can hope!

      I'm glad to pass on what tidbits I learn and encourage others who know more to drop in and share what they know too.


  3. chic!thank u very much for sharing.Love them soooooooo much!

    1. Cool! Thanks for letting me know you like them.


  4. Thank You! Have a nice weekend!

    1. Hello Lissu - I'm glad you enjoyed making a whole collection of dolls and they turned out so pretty! Thanks for sharing what you created and for the link back to my blog.



      Hei Lissu - Olen iloinen pidit tehdä koko kokoelma nukkeja ja ne osoittautuivat niin kaunis! Thanks for sharing mitä olet luonut ja linkki takaisin blogiin.