Discover the new website of the Paris Musée de la Poupée by clicking
musée poupée paris
From November 12 of 2003 to March 21 of 2004

tendres doudous
Bear and doll made of cloth
poupées miniatures

The new temporary exhibit of the Museum is dedicated to the softies.
More than a 100 stuffed cloth dolls and animals of industrial, handcraft or home fabrics from the end of the XIXth century to today are presented.

Meet up with the companions of your childhood, with the sweet softies that are sometimes a little worn out by so much love.

What is the use of a softy ?
Chosen for its softness, its shape, its smell or for a child’s personal taste, the softy is the witness of games, the protector of sleep, the companion of trips, the comforter of sorrows...
The softy’s familiar presence reassures the child and helps it overcome its first anxieties.
This “transitional object”, whether it is a doll or an animal, has an irreplaceable emotional value for a child.

The cloth doll , or the ancestor of the softy

The cloth doll appeared a long time ago, but being that cloth deteriorates easily, the handcraft first copies presented in collections today only date from the XIXth century and are mainly American.

In Europe, the fashion for cloth dolls developped at the beginning of the XXth century. This development was spaked by the sudden awareness of remarquable women that believed the traditional bisque and composition doll did not entirely correspond to children’s expectations. In addition, these women thought that bisque dolls did not encourage tenderness, reassurance and maternal instinct as did cloth dolls, which are softer, more flexible and lighter.

Along with the change of the material, the doll changed its shape with the appearance of the very expressive « character babies » and the babies with bented limbs.
Among these famous women, there are a few that stand out like Käthe Kruse, Dora Petzold, Margarete Steiff in Germany, Elena König Scavani in Italy, Norah Wellings in England, Louise Kampes in the USA.
They began making handcraft cloth dolls for their own children before turning to industrial production to answer the growing demand for that type of doll.

L’Arbre et le Bucheron - Philip Heath
"Création Clo" doll
by Claude Brabant,
France, early 1980's
This fashion will then reach all the countries with two types of dolls :
the printed cloth dolls, sold in boards to sew and to pad.
the three dimensional cloth dolls with a hand painted or printed composition.

Between the two world wars many firms launched into those so called « artistic dolls ». These dolls found in New Year’s gift catalogues were given this name because of the artistic aspect of their painted faces and their decorative role with the Art Nouveau and mainly Art deco interiors.

Moreover the same makers often produced with similar techniques, the playing dolls and the lounge dolls whose purpose is purely decorative.

In France, middle and large size companies developped between the two wars ; the most important are Raynal, Vénus, Emile Lang, Pintel, Ravca, Magali, la SFBJ, Clelia, Gerb’s, Nicette, Cottin.

Boucle d’Or - Pauline Bjonness Jacobsen Boucle d’Or
Handmade cloth doll
inspired by Raggedy Ann,
Switzerland, 1956
Donkey, Italy, 1950's
Despite the appearance of the new plastic materials after world war two, some doll makers went on producing cloth dolls. For example there was Reine Degrais for Bécassine in France and Georgene Novelties in the USA.

At the end of the 1970’s, the retro fashion begins with the Holly Hobby range, the return to romantic dolls. Handcraft dolls like Clo dolls or Mado dolls are created.
Cloth is used again today in artist dolls such as the ones of J R Wright in the USA, Christa Mann in Germany or Malou Ancelin in France.

The cloth animal softies
The stuffed cloth animals appeared before the animal made of real plush.
They have very quickly been replaced by mohair or artificial fibers that are very silky and more realistic.
Very often the same producers like Pintel, Steiff, Girardin, Dean’s made the cloth and plush animals.

Soft materials

The cloth dolls and animals are made according to each maker of cotton, jersey, silk or crêpe de Chine.
For the stuffing, Käthe Kruse will use reindeer hair, Steiff, wood shavings, Lenci, cotton and in France makers will choose kapoc and straw.

Boucle d’Or - Pauline Bjonness Jacobsen Boucle d’Or
Pingouine, France ?, circa 1960

Le Chat Botté - Eric Giovannini
Doll and bear knitted by
residents of a nursing home in Switzerland,
circa 1990

Le Chat Botté - Eric Giovannini
Printed cloth doll, France ?,
circa 1905-1910

Boucle d’Or - Pauline Bjonness Jacobsen Boucle d’Or
Teddy bear by Guido Odin, France, 1997

L’Arbre et le Bucheron - Philip Heath
Natu doll, Spain, 1930's

Le Petit Chaperon Rouge - Christine Böhm
Rare American cloth dolls
from late XIX century

Cloth doll handmade by Lia Bianco, Italy, 1998
Teddy bear by Moulin Roty, France, 1997

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Cloth dolls by Venus, circa 1925
Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Rare "Hospital doll" by Martha Chase, weighing like a real baby, USA, circa 1910
Velvet European dog, around 1925

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Around the exhibit...

A doll and softy hospital

The Museum has a doll hospital that repairs dolls, babies, softies.
You can also find clothes and accessories for dolls and an appraisal of your doll can be made by appointment. Free estimate on presentation of the damaged dolls.

Listen to softies’ stories

Continue the trip into the universe of childhood while listening to softies’ stories.
Visit of the Museum followed by a fairy tale session.

Saturday 4.30PM, with reservation, length about 1 hours and a half.
Prices : 10 € - 8 € - 7 €

A program on cloth dolls by director, Samy Odin
Saturday 22/11/03 at 6PM - Sunday 18/01/04 at 5PM - Thursday 12/02/04 at 5PM.
Price entrance + program : 10 €, with reservation.

March 27 to September 26 of 2004

poupées miniatures

Go back in time and travel through the history of costumes with the fashion egeria : Barbie.