Kewpie doll

Kewpie doll, J. D. Kestner, Germany 1913 Museum no. MISC.18-1974

The doll pictured is an all bisque Kewpie doll made in about 1913 by the German manufacturer J. D. Kestner of Waltershausen. The doll is jointed at the shoulders so that its arms can move up and down and has painted features, including it's eyes which have been moulded onto the head and painted. It is about 12cm tall.

The Kewpie was invented by the poet and artist Rose O'Neill, first featuring in magazine illustrations in 1909, and later patented in 1913. The name ‘Kewpie’ comes from the resemblance to the naked babies known as cupids, after Cupid the Roman God of Love. Over the next few years the Kewpie grew in popularity - and books and accessories were introduced, including rattles, soap, dishes and  salt and pepper shakers. Some women even began to pluck their eyebrows in the style of the doll.

The Kewpie dolls were first manufactured in Germany but were later made in Belgium and France after the outbreak of the First World War. Later models of the doll were made using other materials, such as celluloid, wood, and paper. The Kewpie doll is one of the earliest examples of mass toy manufacturing.

 

 

 

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