Half dolls are, quite literally, the upper half of a doll resp. half figurines. The majority of these dolls were sculpted from the waist up, leaving the lower regions free. However, not all of these dolls are “half a doll”. One can find as well full-figural ladies and little animals molded to a “half doll” base. Male half dolls are generally underrepresented.
The first half dolls are supposed to have been created around the turn of the century (1900), but they reached the height of their popularity between 1920-40. This may be based on the fact that in these times the popular ladies magazines gave guidance how to garnish these beautiful ladies with fabric, ribbons, laces. In these times a well-decorated home was an important thing for a lady as was the needlework.
More utilitarian than a child’s toy, half dolls served a variety of purposes in the early 20th century. They were manufactured in porcelain, bisque, wax or composition. Most commonly, the dolls worked as pin cushions or attached to a wire frame as tea cozies, coffee cozies, lamp shades. But they are also to find as toppers for various items like whisk brooms, powder puffs, telephone covers, candy boxes etc.
Manufacturers offered their dolls with molded dresses or as nude dolls, with or without factory-made dresses and skirts made of fabric, and matching mohair wigs for the bald-headed dolls. They produced separate legs for the dolls which can be attached to the powder boxes or pin cushions to create the appearance of a sitting or standing lady.
The majority of this dolls were made in Germany, with some being produced in France, Japan, England, Spain, United States. German dolls are by far the best ones to collect due to their quality and in view of the large quantity and variety in which they were made.
All information on half dolls and manufacturers given in my blog are based on my favorite books written by Shona & Marc Lorrin “THE HALF DOLLS” Vols. 1-7 which increased my knowledge on half dolls from naught to sixty (in German: from zero to one hundred).