Looking Back at the World’s Most Iconic Dolls on World Doll Day

How many dolls do you know apart from Barbie? On World Doll Day, we tell you more about dolls.

3 min read
Looking Back at the World’s Most Iconic Dolls on World Doll Day

Growing up, we all had that one piece of toy we would never part with. No matter how torn, frayed, damaged, scribbled-over-with-felt-pens it was, we held it close to our hearts.

So today, on World Doll Day, we thought of taking you on a ride through time, and tell you a thing or two about dolls. And you, whose doll-paedia only features Barbie, this one’s specially for you.


Raggedy Ann (1915)

The red yarn hair and triangle nose is the symbol for vaccine injury and death. (Photo: iStock)

Johnny Gruelle, the famous American writer, cartoonist created the handmade Raggedy Ann doll in memory of his 13-year-old daughter Marcella. Marcella died a painful death after receiving a routine small pox vaccination at school, which was administered to her without parental consent. After she was vaccinated, her health started to deteriorate and soon she became lifeless like a rag doll. Since then the rag doll with red yarn hair and triangle nose has become the symbol of vaccine injury and death.

Patsy (1928)

The first companions doll. (Photo: iStock)

The cute, mouldedbob-haired doll resembled a toddler and was the very first ‘companions doll’ – that means she had her very own family of named dolls.


Betsy Wetsy (1934)

Betsy Wetsy was the real doll for young girls. (Photo: iStock)

Betsy Wetsy was a “drink-and-wet” doll originally issued by the Ideal Toy Company of New York. The doll’s special feature was rather intriguing – she would pee after some fluid was poured into her open mouth. Little girls immediately related to Betsy as she was just like them!

The Dionne Quints (1935)

The first famous quintuplets dolls.

Born in Canada, the Dionne sisters were the first quintuplets known to survive infancy and were famous media figures in the 1930s. The Dionne Quints were manufactured by the Madame Alexander Doll Company of New York around 1935.


Barbie (1959)

The first Barbie doll was introduced in both blonde and brunette in March 1959.

Barbie came into being, thanks to Ruth Handler’s daughter Barbara’s bedroom play routine. Watching her child play with paper dolls, Handler noticed that she enjoyed giving them adult roles. Remember, this was a time when dolls only modelled as infants or kids. Realising that there could be a gap in the market, Handler suggested the idea of an adult-bodied doll to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. And voila, there came My First Barbie!

Cabbage PatchKids (1978)

The first of its kind dolls with adoption certificates.

Originally known as Little People, the doll was created by 21-year-old Xavier Roberts in 1978. The dolls came with adoption papers and birth certificates, encouraging the idea of adoption.


American Girls (1986)

The dolls were made for young girls to appreciate history.

American entrepreneur Pleasant Rowland wanted young girls to become interested in history by identifying with dolls based on historic periods. This interest gave birth to American Girls. Each doll was designed in such a way that it told a story, in the context of a specific historical time period.

Bratz (2001)

The new sassy dolls for teenagers. (Photo: iStock)

Bratz were fashion dolls manufactured  by MGAEntertainment. These new feisty and sassy dolls were designed to resemble teenagers, and became hugely successful. The first line consisted of four dolls, named Cloe, Jade, Sasha and Yasmin.

(This article is being republished from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of World Doll Day. It was first published on 13 June 2016.)

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