Dolls, precious friends of a childhood spent ….

1 Dolly per blog

“DOLLY” by Beatrice Brandini

2 Angelo Lenci

“Angel”, Lenci private collection

In Lucca, in the prestigious Palazzo Guidiccioni, headquarters of the State Archives, there is a lovely exhibition of the Dolls: IMAGO AND OMBRA costume play dolls and dream.

It will be open until 8 March.

3 Standardo per blog    Torre a Lucca

Banner on the facade of the Palazzo Guidiccioni      particular Church of San Michele  

Lucca is a gem among the Tuscan cities, protected by its Renaissance walls, nearly intact, full of towers and squares, where all its splendor is a pleasant vision.

3 Bambola francese 1895    4 Bambola tedesca 1895    5 Bambola tedesca 1897

French doll of 1895 (factory Jumeau)  German doll from 1895 – 1910 (factory Simon & Halbig)  German doll in 1897 (Simon & Halbig factory)

But let’s get to the dolls,  friends and companions of games, stories, and especially the dreams of little girls (and adults) of all ages and around the world .

The exhibition highlights the antiquities collection of Renata Frediani, where precious dolls in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to make room for newer creations, but no less magnificent, such as those of the manufacture Lenci or the Barbie 60s.

6 Bambole tedesche fine 800    7 Teca con bambole tedesche

German dolls end 1800

However, the most striking addition to the beautiful stars of the show, dolls, is the placement of the same, in the magnificent rooms of the Archive, wonderful place, steeped in culture, history and beauty .

8 Bambola francese 1907    9 Bambola tedesca 1900

French doll 1907 (the factory Jumeau)  German doll 1900 (Recknagel factory)

9 bis Bambola americana 1935

American doll in 1935 (factory Madame Alexander)

I will not dwell on the sacred dolls made of clay, beautiful examples of Italian craftsmanship, but pass directly (even for personal preference) the nineteenth, important  century for the toys production and specifically, of dolls. Dolls made of bisque or porcelain Paro (white flesh that owes its name to the Greek island Paros marble quarried), with precious details. The most important productions were German and French.

10 Bambola italiana 1900    11 Bambola italiana 1924

Italian doll 1900        Italian doll 1924 (attributed to the company Magit)

The production of Italian dolls, between the end of ‘800 and ‘900, is virtually nonexistent. With the exception of precious and magnificent examples of sacred dolls, where master craftsmen were able to express their skills. You must cite the factory Furga, in the province of Mantua and a few others like that of Fagagna in the province of Udine, or the Ratti & Vallanzasca of Arona.

12 Lenci 1924    13 Lenci 1925

Harlequin 1924 Lenci Torino        Leonetta 1925 Lenci Torino 

We must get to the end of the First World War, in 1918, to cite one example of the production of the world’s most famous doll, or that of the Lenci, Turin company founded by Elena Koning and her husband Enrico Scavini. The acronym LENCI which speaks volumes on the intent of the project “Ludus Est Nobis Costanter Industry” – “The game for us is a steady job”.

14 Lenci 1930    15 Lenci 1931    16 Lenci 1933 40

Tonina and Tonino 1930 Lenci Torino        Paoletta 1931 Lenci Torino          Eleonora 1935 – 40 Lenci Torino

17 Lenci 1930 bis    18 Lenci groupage anni 30 bis

Londina 1930 Lenci Torino                                   Groupage Lenci 30s

The Lenci dolls were among the most beautiful ever created, highly sought after by collectors around the world of yesterday and today. Made from a special felt defined Felt Lenci (still today if you speak felt using the word pannolenci), which characterizes all the productions of the factory in Turin. I’ve always loved these dolls, their faces intense for their fancy dress and precious, for fine craftsmanship, are much more than just dolls. The Lenci have been “signed” also by great artists such as Dudovich, Vacchetti, Sturani …. Testimony of an era, a taste, a style that we have, alas, lost.

19 Lenci 1978    20 Lenci 1985    21 Lenci 1986

                      Susanna 1978                                             Scolaretta 1985                                  Charlotte 1986  Lenci Torino

The art critic Ugo Ojetti called Lenci: “The originality of invention so witty and a refined delicacy of execution so that the people admire and want them, as the children”.

22 Lenci anni 80 e 90    23 Lenci 1997

Teca with Lenci Doll 80s and 90s      Doll who plays the trademark Lenci

Other examples of Italian dolls of the ’40s. Interesting example of the right with the Scottish dress, or a doll made entirely of hard plastic, innovation for its time, a tribute to the actress Shirley Temple.

24 Bambole italiane 1940    25 bambola italiana 1940

Italian Dolls 1940s and 50s Patrizia Marina and Marta (factory Athena Piacenza) Italian Doll Shirley 1940 (factory Bonomi Milan)

Other separate paragraph deserve the Barbie, which exhibition give importance and space.

26 Barbie Mattel 1961    27 Barbie 1961 1965

Barbie from 1961  (Barbie Bubble Cut, Mattel USA)

31 Barbie 1965    32 Barbie 1968 71 

Some Barbie from 1965      Barbie  e Francie (Barbie’s cousin ) from 1967 and 1968

Barbie makes her entrance in 1959, thanks to Ruth Handler who with her husband owned in Los Angeles Mattel toy factory. It is said that during a trip to Switzerland Ms. Handler was struck by a doll, Lilli, so much to buy the German company, Elastolin Hausser, the patent and the rights to produce this doll in America and make it the legendary Barbie. The enterprising lady Mattel took a lot of effort to turn the Lilli doll in a more modern, even more similar to itself, and true embodiment of the American dream girls of the fifties.

29 Barbie 1965 rosso    30 Barbie 1967    28 Barbie 1964

Some examples of Barbie 60s (1964 and 1965)

The difference of the Barbie dolls with all other, however was represented by its infinite and constantly renewed wardrobe. For the first time a doll possessed an endless wardrobe, perfectly aligned with the current fashion trends, with a different set for a different use and throughout the day. Just like a real wardrobe.

33 Barbie 1992    35 Barbie 1997

Barbie Empress Bride, 1992 (Bob Mackie Collection)    Barbie Billions of Dreams, 1997

34 Barbie 1993    36 Barbie 1997 bis

Barbie Queen of hearts, 1994       Barbie Masquerade Ball, 1993        Barbie Madame du Barbie, 1997  all Bob Mackie Collection 

Barbie has undergone many transformations over time, in line with the tastes of the time, but always keeping intact the charm and magic. From the generation of the sixties to the present, there isn’t little in the world that has not owned a Barbie or more, and has not fantasized about her creating stories and adventures. Dreaming of look like her (not exactly a Mediterranean model) at least a little.


Hall, Palace Guidiccioni

Thanks dolls ….. for making us so much companionship and unforgettable moments.

37 Lenci collezione privata    38 Cerbiatto collezione privata

Little Mermaid 1980 Lenci private collection   Fawn in felt, private collection

Good life to all!





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