Kewpie Dolls

Kewpie dolls originated from a New York comic book and newspaper strip created in the year 1909 by Rose O'Neill. The cherub or fairy-like dolls became familiar as both paper dolls and toys with an impish and angelic facial expression. Kewpie dolls get their name after Cupid, the Greek god of erotic love.

What materials are Kewpie dolls made of?
  • Bisque: The first generation of Kewpies was manufactured in Germany from German bisque. It is a type of porcelain that is characterized by its soft matte finish that looks a lot like a child's skin. Technically, the material refers to porcelain that has not gone through a glazing process. Most Kewpies are glazed. The Kewpies gradually shifted into composite blends for enhanced strength and durability.
  • Resin and composite materials: Once production of the Kewpie shifted to the United States after World War I, the dolls began to be made from resin and composite materials. The composite materials include sawdust, wood flour, resin, glue, and cornstarch. Some Kewpie dolls use a ceramic head and composition body.
  • Celluloid: Celluloid is the first type of thermoplastic. A doll made of this material will consist of nitrocellulose and camphor with added dyes. These dolls used to be given out as carnival prizes and were also used in many memorable advertising campaigns for Jell-O and other consumer products.
What features do the Kewpie dolls have?
  • Heart decal: The Kewpie dolls may have a heart decal located on their chest, belly, or foot area. The heart decal is red and indicates the type of baby doll and the time of the toy's manufacturing.
  • Jointed arms: Once composition materials were used to make the Kewpie doll, jointed arms became common. The joints of the arms can be moved to the doll's sides or above the shoulders to its head.
  • Painted hair and eyes: The hair on the doll is often painted a blond, red, or brown colour. The eyes are painted blue or brown, and the eyebrows are painted to match the doll's hair colour.
  • Clothing: After the time that Kewpie doll production shifted to the United States, the dolls were produced with different types of clothing and accessories, such as soldiers' uniforms and helmets for World War I and World War II.
How do you display a Kewpie doll?

Kewpie dolls that are made out of ceramic should be displayed in a way that protects them from sunlight. A glass curio cabinet or china cabinet can be used to show off these figurines. The Kewpies with joints can be displayed on a holder that provides support to the heavier head.