I'm going to BUY A PAPER DOLL

These paper people reside inside an old Fannie May candy box bought at an estate sale about two months ago. It was a really intriguing sale with all sorts of goodies. Fortunately for me two guys who got in the door about 10 minutes before me, who are usually buying exactly what I want, were tired, and one had forgotten to bring his glasses. Thus when looking through the box of old photographs the one guy kept muttering that there wasn't anything good, but then he'd add "Of course if I had my glasses...." I sort of hovered, watching what they picked up and put down. I was hoping he'd put the photo box down and I'd zoom in. I nicely said, "Hey, when you're done with the photos I'd like to take a look." He was very accommodating as I continued to hover. Finally I had my shot at the box and I continued to monitor them through the eyes in the back of my head. They continued muttering that there wasn't much to be had, the sellers had not told the truth in their ad, etc. And then I heard it...

"Hey, do you want this box of paper dolls?" said the one guy to the other.

I about broke my neck. I never find paper dolls at estate sales. Never! I see these sales on ebay all the time where someone just happened into an estate sale and bought a ton of mint paper doll books. I don't go to those kind of sales. Never my luck. Anyway...

"No, I've sort of stopped buying paper dolls."

The fellow then saw me standing with the photo box in my hands, salivating, wondering what was in the white candy box he was holding. He said, "Are you interested?" I hope my grab wasn't too rude. I looked inside and was delighted! Lovely old 1930s dolls, clothes, accessories. Lots of goodies, most not completely cut-out. 

Now comes the problem. Who are these people? I know from the style they're from the 1930s, but for the life of me I cannot find them in any of my Mary Young paper doll reference books. I'm sure they're in there, but I'm just not finding them. So if someone out there in the darkness staring at their screen can give me a hint I'd be most grateful. I'd like to mentally name them other than "Fanny May Wedding Party" which I'm sure is a very sweet (sorry) name, but I need to know the facts. 

paper dolls 1_tatteredandlost copy

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bridal party paper dolls 2_tatteredandlost copy

And yes, there is a groom. Now mind you apparently the company figured he wouldn't get played with much because he's on the same paper as the clothes, unlike all the other dolls which were punched out from the cover. Poor groom. I imagine not many survived. Ain't that always the way when you get this many women in a room with one guy? Okay, the fact that he is slightly effeminate...pretty much the given with paper dolls. The guys almost always look like one of the girls. I guess they were less threatening. I really don't know. 

bridal party paper dolls groom_tatteredandlost.jpg
Click on any image to see it larger.

Oh yeah, amongst the photos they passed up, the "famous" melon eating pig I posted at my vernacular photography site.  I left that sale a very happy girl.

UPDATE: Thanks to Linda at The Paper Collector who has identified the set as Wedding of the Paper Dolls from 1935, published by Merrill Publishing. It was illustrated by Lucille Webster. A reprint of this was available several years ago, but I haven't seen it recently. Now that we know the name of it keep your eyes open for the repro. The illustrations really are lovely!


  1. I'm thinking an old movie? With Marjorie, Sally, Carolyn, and Paul the leading man. Seem Marjorie was the leading lady?

    Then again, they all "look" alike, even the childs face.

    Really nice!

  2. Paper planes I like - Paper Dolls not so much...

  3. They do look like characters out of an old movie from the '30s but I don't recall any specific film tie-in dolls other than Shirley Temple and Jane Whithers back then. The real film tie-in stuff came a bit later. They certainly reflect the fantasy world people had about wealth during the depression.

    Now, this is why paper dolls are so much fun. They reflect their times. I'll admit I'm not crazy about paper dolls created from the late '50s on. Most were all about famous actresses and a few actors. The covers were nice but the clothing was run of the mill, simply not very exciting illustrations. But the first part of the 20th Century had some really wonderful illustrators doing the dolls/clothes/covers. And some of the dolls from the previous century are really interesting. So MrCachet, you just have to look at them with a different eye. The simple line work done to show the movement of the clothing on the body, the colors, etc. I do wish I had the cover for this set, but no reason wishing for that. It's gone a long time ago. But someone kept all of these dolls neatly tucked away in that candy box. For some reason they were very special to them.

  4. Ya know... I just posted a piece of paper that I had originally neglected to buy, just like I rejected the TOURING paper from several weeks back. I'm stashing this visual idea in my memory bank so that when I see a piece of paper from the PUBLISHER (HINT,HINT), I'll know where to find these. You're right about the images. I was too hasty with the negative vibes.

  5. As time passes I'll post more paper dolls so you can see the variety of illustrator styles. It was an art form you don't see anymore being mass marketed. There are small publishers and individuals publishing dolls, but they'll never have the mass appeal they once did. And yet when I show kids my collection their eyes bug out and they say "Why can't we buy dolls like this?"

  6. Paul, the Groom, does look as if he borrowed one of the bridesmaid's faces, doesn't he? And also used her makeup artist as well! :)

    What a wonderful find! They look to be in excellent shape!

  7. As soon as I saw 'paper dolls' in your post title I got all excited. I love paper dolls, always have and very much regret not having kept any of them. I even remember cutting out a book of dolls that had belonged to my aunt in the late 50's - oh if only I'd known lol! Your dolls look great although it is probably the clothes that I love best of all. Unusual to have a man in the set even if he is the groom!

  8. Yes, Paul looks sweet, very sweet.

    And I too wish I'd saved my paper dolls from childhood. I've spent the past several years buying up what I threw away.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this post. There are so many clothes in the candy box I'd have to spend hours scanning everything. More gowns, a bridal dress, another outfit for Paul, kids clothes, and so many fun accessories. I always loved the little accessories but don't you know they were the first thing you always lost. They'd eventually find their way to the bottom of your shoe with you walking around going "Where is that hat?" Look at the bottom of your shoe dummy! It's been stuck there for an hour!

  9. Lovely! Thanks for posting this great set. It's Wedding of the Paper Dolls, 1935, by Merrill Publishing. It's in the green Mary Young book, Tomart's guide to Saalfield and Merrill Paper Dolls. I have a few cut pieces of this myself, just the bride Marjorie and a few attendants...

  10. Linda, thank you so much! I'd have never figured this out. The picture in the book is small. I have the set above it, Boarding School, also cut, but I believe all the pieces. I have a feeling most of the pieces are here for this one. They even saved the directions on how to cut all of it out. I just found online that the original book had 120 pieces. I'll have to do a count, but I'm betting I'm pretty close. I'm really glad that guy didn't want it. I got it for $20. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the repro version. I remember seeing it years ago online.

  11. By the way Janice, if you go back through some of my older posts you'll find a few more paper dolls including one that is around 152 years old.

    Check out:

    February - IMAGINE YOURSELF at 152
    March - When PIGS WERE BRAVE (actually a greeting card/paper doll)
    May - UPDATE about MIss Hattie
    May - PLEASE MOM! I want the paper dolls
    July - HAPPY 4TH
    August - DENNIS THE MENACE tv

    I actually think there is another but I can't remember what it was.

  12. Thanks for the info about your other paper doll postings. I sent the link to Miss Hattie to several friends who have a particular interest in the very antique paper dolls. To think a descendant of one of the 19th century publishers reached out to you... that is heart-stopping. Wow.

  13. Linda, I was stunned and thrilled when I got that letter. It was really quite amazing to get something like that. I've shown the doll to little girls and told them to try and imagine how old Miss Hattie is. Now I have even more to tell about her. This is what I love about the net. The possibilities for information you might otherwise never get.

    Hope your friends find it interesting.