Dolls with moulded papier mache heads were popular from about 1810 to 1870. The most important area of production was Germany although papier mache dolls were also made in America, especially in Philadelphia. The earliest German papier mache dolls are known as “slit heads” because of a gap in the crown into which the hair is inserted. Later “pumpkin head” dolls had a large, round face with moulded hair.
A form of papier mache strengthened with wood pulp and other materials and described by its manufacturers as “indestructible” (although it can be quite delicate) was introduced in the 1820. This “composition” was used as a base for wax dolls and became the most popular material for dolls’ bodies from about 1880 into the early 20th century.
Many 19th century doll makers made dolls whose head consisted of a wax skin over a composition base. Although they originated in Italy and were also made in Germany and sometimes in France, the best of these wax dolls were made in England.