The dress the doll is wearing is not original, as it is too small at the waist. To the rear of the doll much of the skirt of the dress has disappeared as a result of light damage to the cotton. The dark flowers have suffered more than the lighter background, either because the dye used to print the design has weakened the cotton, or because the dark areas naturally absorb more light. A test for metal components in the dye would help resolve the possible reason for the damage. The original dimensions of the skirt have been calculated from what remained and the skirt reconstructed in fine nylon net, which also supports what remains. If we hadn’t been conserving this for a conservation exhibition we would have dyed cotton to match and used that, to make the lost area less conspicuous.
People all over the world make dolls and figurines. They are made for many different reasons, not always as toys to be played with. In some societies figurines are made only for use by adults in religious or other belief-related ceremonies.
The dolls and figures shown in the Reveal exhibition date from the last 400 years and were made to be played with as toys. Children in the past played with toys in different ways to today’s children. Dolls were often expensive and more fragile than modern ones, so children were not allowed to play roughly with them. As a result, many of them have survived in surprisingly good condition even though they are very old.
Some older dolls are considered to be precious collectors’ items. In the future, some of our modern dolls may be just as prized by collectors.