About Us

Porcelain House

Porcelain House is a new small partner-artists company creating heirloom-quality collectibles. CK and Martha also work as professional designers and now have opened this online shop. Besides creating art, they also offer the service of brand and exhibition design—get in touch for more information. Original creations on the Shop page are one-of-a-kind works of art and are subject to all copyright protections, unless otherwise noted as a resale or consignment item. Recent News page products or mentions are in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or otherwise associated with, the third party company and affiliation.

A Brief History of Dolls

The earliest documented dolls go back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Dolls with movable limbs and removable clothing date back to at least 200 BC. Archaeologists have discovered Greek dolls made of clay and articulated at the hips and shoulders. Rag dolls and stuffed animals were probably also popular, but no known examples of these have survived to the present day. Modern doll manufacturing has its roots in Germany, from the 15th century. The oldest American dolls may be those found in Inca and Aztec graves, such as those near the pyramids of TeotihuacĂĄn. Colonial dolls mostly followed European models. Traditional dolls made of materials such as clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe. 

Dolls have been made as crude, rudimentary playthings as well as elaborate art. A function of dolls, dating from ancient times but still practiced today, is to serve as votive images. By using an “ex voto” figure, persons could symbolically present themselves as offerings to the gods. Greek and Roman girls of marriageable age did this in ancient times. Today, the women of Bali carry temple dolls as their votive offerings. The period from 1860 to 1890 was the golden age of the elaborately dressed Parisian bisque fashion dolls and the smaller “milliner’s models”. Porcelain dolls became popular in Europe during the 19th century. 

Modern dolls are for girls and boys of all ages, but especially when they are older. They love their makeup and hairstyles, their super trendy outfits, as well as the accessories they might come with. Modern collectible dolls, also called collector dolls, are mass-produced dolls for adults to collect and display, rather than for children to play with. They were sold in large numbers in the 1980s and 1990s when doll collecting was at its peak. Collector dolls have been made in the 21st century as well but in reduced numbers.

The Iconic Barbie

Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by American toy company Mattel, Inc. and launched on March 9, 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration. Barbie is the figurehead of a brand of Mattel dolls and accessories, including other family members and collectible dolls. She has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for over fifty years.

"Barbie doll has unarguably been one of the most monumental and influential phenomena of modern toys and children's media. From the first Barbie in 1959 to this day children across the world are able to enjoy what Barbie has to offer having successfully adapted to a contemporary 21st century context. And just as modern children are eager to play with the doll, collectors and enthusiasts of any age appreciate vintage Barbies as highly valuable collectors items."

"Barbie, in full Barbara Millicent Roberts, an 11-inch- (29-cm-) tall plastic doll with the figure of an adult woman that was introduced on March 9, 1959, by Mattel, Inc., a southern California toy company. Ruth Handler, who cofounded Mattel with her husband, Elliot, spearheaded the introduction of the doll. Barbie’s physical appearance was modeled on the German Bild Lilli doll, a risquĂ© gag gift for men based upon a cartoon character featured in the West German newspaper Bild Zeitung."

"Since the doll’s inception its body has incited controversy. Mothers in a 1958 Mattel-sponsored market study before the doll’s release criticized Barbie for having “too much of a figure.” Mattel circumvented this problem, however, by advertising Barbie directly to children via television. Mattel, in fact, upon sponsoring Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club program in 1955, became the first toy company to broadcast commercials to children."

"In response to consumer demand, in 1961 Mattel brought out Barbie’s ultimate “accessory”—her boyfriend, Ken. (The Handlers’ children were named Barbara and Ken.) In 1963 Mattel added Barbie’s best friend, Midge, and in 1964 Barbie’s little sister, Skipper. By 1968 Barbie had been issued “friend” dolls of colour, but not until 1980 was the Barbie doll itself released in an African American incarnation."

"Since the 1970s, Barbie has been criticized for materialism (amassing cars, houses, and clothes) and unrealistic body proportions. In fact, in 1994 researchers in Finland announced that if Barbie were a real woman, she would not have enough body fat to menstruate. Mattel responded by changing the body mold for Barbie on several occasions. At the turn of the 21st century the doll was given smaller breasts, a wider waist, and slimmer hips, and in 2016 the company released three additional sizes of Barbie: petite, tall, and curvy. Despite complaints, many women who played with the doll credit Barbie with providing an alternative to restrictive 1950s gender roles. Unlike baby dolls, Barbie did not teach nurturing. Outfitted with career paraphernalia, the doll was a model for financial self-sufficiency. (Barbie’s rĂ©sumĂ© includes, among other things, airline pilot, astronaut, doctor, Olympic athlete, and United States presidential candidate.) Nor was the doll defined by relationships of responsibility to men or family. Barbie has no parents or offspring. When in the early 1960s consumers clamoured for a Barbie-scale baby, Mattel did not make Barbie a mother but issued a “Barbie Baby-Sits” playset."

"Although Mattel has positioned Barbie as the ultimate American girl, the doll has never been manufactured in the United States, to avoid higher labour costs. Today the doll has come to symbolize consumer capitalism and is as much a global brand as Coca-Cola, with key markets in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. In 2009 Mattel opened a six-floor flagship Barbie store in Shanghai, featuring a spa, a design studio, and a café in addition to a wide offering of Barbie-related products. Barbie never won the approval of authorities in the Muslim world, however. In 1995 Saudi Arabia stopped its sale because it did not fulfill the Islamic dress code. Eventually, similar dolls, some wearing hijabs (a garment that covers the hair and neck), were marketed to Muslim girls."

"Mattel registered Barbie as a work of art, but the doll has also inspired works of art, including a 1986 Andy Warhol portrait and photographs by William Wegman and David Levinthal. Novelists, including A.M. Homes and Barbara Kingsolver, have used the doll in fiction. When interpreting Barbie, artists tend to take one of two approaches: idealizing the doll or, more commonly, using the doll to critique ideas associated with it, from exaggerated femininity to profligate consumption."

"Barbie is a very popular collectible. Aficionados are interested in both old Barbies and the special edition Barbies that Mattel creates to cater to this market. Although Barbie’s sales since the year 2000 have not risen as steeply as they did in the 1990s, they still amount to more than a billion dollars annually. Every second, Mattel calculates, two Barbies are sold somewhere in the world." *Bing AI