Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Latest Vintage L&B Paper Doll Purchase is also my Smallest

The most recent vintage L&B paper doll addition to my collection 
also happens to be my smallest at just 6 inches tall.

My latest and smallest L&B Articulated Paper Doll
Earlier this summer I acquired this sweet little lady into my collection for $25.00
and thought she's not a correctly matched doll I wanted her for several reasons.

First - She only stands 6 inches tall when fully assembled and never having had the smallest size 
of L&B dolls in my collection I thought she was a good start to adding them into the mix.
Secondly - I've been wanting to add this beauty for quite some time and she's a difficult one to come across.  I know eventually I will get her larger and with ballet legs but till then I have this sweetie.
Third - She had a very odd shaped torso for a L&B Ballerina or Prima Donna paper doll.

I can honestly say it's fun to have one of the mini dolls in my collection; however the image quality in miniature is not the same as on the larger dolls, they just can't pack in that much detail on such a small canvas. I think you can see that the below posted doll which a larger version of mine has a more serene an polished look than my doll has. So going forward I'll purchase the smaller dolls but only if the price is right, otherwise the larger dolls make prettier display pieces than the mini's.

Here is what a larger version of her would look like with all the right parts.
An image I found of her several years ago on the internet - sorry I can't remember the source but if I find it I'll post it here.

 This is what this sweet ballerina with all her correct parts should look like.
So far I've only seen the smaller 6 inch version like I own to be wearing a necklace 
so this is one of the bigger sizes of the doll - in case you were wondering.

In the scheme of things it's really odd to see her next to the larger L&B paper dolls.
The various sizes of L&B articulated paper dolls
 Just look how tiny the six inch doll looks next to her cousins.
L&B made Ballerina and Prima Donna (bloomer) Dolls and all 4 of these are from the 
Ballerina doll series, it's just that the smallest doll did not have the correct parts 
which is why you see her here in bloomers and gloved arms.

The tallest Ballerina is 13 3/4 inches assembled
the next tallest is 11 1/2 inches assembled
the rare green ballerina is 9 3/4 inches assembled
and the small blue doll is 6 inches with this particular torso and limbs
In actuality with the correct curvier torso and correct limbs the smallest ballerina
 in the L&B line should measure 5 3/4 inches assembled.

L&B (Littauer & Boysen) of Germany produced these dolls under their name as uncut sheets and several of their dolls were assembled and repackaged by the Dennison Mfg Company to be sold with their crepe paper line so girls of all ages could dress them up. 
Dennison sold these dolls assembled with eyelets and not the uncut sheets.

I have a 1905 Dennison Catalog that shows they were selling the Ballerinas in 3 sizes.
5 3/4 inches (in 4 styles) - 9 3/4 inches and 13 3/4 inches (in 3 Styles)

I know for a fact they were selling this particular blue ballerina since she is pictured on page 22 as a Lamp Side Screen; which was created using the blue ballerina and Dennison Crepe Paper.
The instructions call for the No. 23 Dennison Jointed Doll from page 52 (the 9 3/4 inch doll)

So here is what my little beauty looked like after I removed her brads.
Yup, mine was not a Dennison eyelet assembled doll so she was very easy to take apart.

L&B Created 7 Ballerinas that I'm aware of so far but there could be a 
few still out there that I'm waiting to be surprised by.

Of those 7 I know of three that could be purchased from L&B on attached uncut sheets.
So for now I'm assuming those 3 ballerinas were also sold by Dennison since the blue ballerina is among them. The real question is what was the 4th mini ballerina they were selling???

L&B Sheets 2844 & 2849 Ballerina Heads and the matching Ballerina Limbs as uncut sheets
This seems to be a set of the smaller 5 3/4 L&B Ballerinas as uncut sheets of these paper dolls.
These are the smaller dolls since they are wearing necklaces just as my mini blue doll does.  
The larger sizes of these ladies I've seen do not were necklaces,
 but they could also be purchased as uncut sheets.

So here is what my little un-assembled cutie looked like after a bit of digital adjusting.
EKDuncan digitally altered L&B vintage paper doll - original hairstyle
My doll did not come with the correct ballet limbs and accompanying Prima Donna limbs were more of an electric blue than the aqua blue of her bodice, so I digitally made the necessary color correction that for this new posted version.

I know eventually I will acquire a larger version of her as the ballerina she was meant to be.  I just like her that much and I've discovered a huge difference in print quality between the mini doll and her larger friends.  It's more difficult to get all the detail into that smaller foot print so the final image just does not seem to be as sharp as on the larger dolls.  I promise when I do get a large version of her, I will rework her on a new post so you can have the more detailed version of her to play with too.

For now in my "altered versions" of her I'm going to leave her with the parts she was purchased with and make her into a Prima Donna - Bloomer Girl even though that was not how she was originally created to be.  Then again most of the L&B Ballerina/PD parts are interchangeable 
so you can make your doll whatever you want her to be.  I also thought you might enjoy seeing the less curvy torso she came with for a change of pace if you're not a fan of the more curvy corset variety these doll usually come with.

If you've been following my series on these L&B paper dolls you know they were mainly created c1888 to represent major stage performers of the day.  I do not have absolute proof of who this doll represented but I want to think she could be Pauline Hall.

vintage photo of Pauline Hall from the NYPL digital archives
Pauline Hall was one of the better known "Prima Donnas" of the 1880's-1890's 
and with her pixie face, short, dark curls and popularity;  I think she's 
a pretty good possibility as to be who this doll was meant to represent. 


I chose to give my new digitally altered versions of the paper doll a new hairstyle;
 since I personally think the cropped curls are a bit severe for a Victorian Beauty.

This is what the new altered version looks like when you view it side by side with the original.
The original L&B paper doll head before and after digital hairstyle change.

The original doll is cute but I prefer her with a bit more hair on top and hope you do too, if not when you print and cut your doll out just trim away the extra bun to retain the original cropped hairstyle.

So Here are the new colorized versions of her with the new hairstyle - Enjoy!

EKDuncan altered vintage L&B paper doll with new hairstyle  - Aqua.

EKDuncan altered vintage L&B paper doll with new hairstyle  -Grey

EKDuncan altered vintage L&B paper doll with new hairstyle  -Green

EKDuncan altered vintage L&B paper doll with new hairstyle  -Plum

EKDuncan altered vintage L&B paper doll with new hairstyle  -Periwinkle

I've still got 3 more dolls from my collection to post and then a special 
Halloween Treat so keep checking in to see them all.

Till Next Time...



  1. Hello,
    I love this paper doll with the petticoats panties. I am often surprised to see some vintage photos; so on the vintage photo above, the woman has short hair when, at this time, the ladies must follow some rules of convenience. The instructions for the "lamp side screen" are sooo interesting!!!
    Many, many, many thanks!!!

    1. Hey Sylvie

      Yes, I know we always think that woman had long hair years ago but every once and a while it was popular to "crop" one's curls. This was so in the early 1800's "Regency" period and again around the 1890 "Late Victorian" as seen in these photos. Believe it or not in the 1700's when it was fashionable to wear wigs, women even shaved their heads so the wigs fit properly.

      But I agree, it's still interesting to see short hair on ladies in these vintage photos.

      I'm glad you liked the page from the 1905 Dennison catalog on lamp screens and how to make one using the dolls. I hope to one day post the whole catalog, since I love the part on how to make crepe paper flowers.