There may have been no internet or TV in the third quarter of the 19th century, but it was possible to find out what the fashionistas of 1867 were wearing at the time.
Ladies' magazines apart, you could also obtain a 3-D snapshot of
an entire season's wardrobe in miniature form via fashion dolls of
This particularly well-attired 18in (46cm) high French lady
which was consigned for sale last month at an auction in the US,
pictured here, comes with a trunk containing a wealth of different
couturier outfits, including no fewer than 14 gowns, ten bonnets, a
wealth of petticoats and other undergarments, shoes and even a jug
and basin, all in a remarkably crisp state of preservation.
Her trunk also bears a shipping label from Nantes to La
Bourboule in the Auvergne region of France. This was the
destination for the bisque-headed wooden-bodied doll and her
trousseau which had been in a château in La Barboule until it
Theriault's specialist auction in San Antonio, Texas on July
The clue as to why these beautifully preserved high fashion
outfits are datable to the 1860s lies in one of the doll's
accessories: a tiny Album de la Poupée featuring 12
early miniature photographs of other dolls in equally elegant
A similar album with a variation of these photographs is known
to have been issued by the Parisian doll shop Au Paradis des
Enfants in 1867 and is the earliest-known example of commercial
photos of dolls.
The presence of an original wardrobe of clothes has always added
value to a fashion doll. In this instance the French château
provenance and the lavish, well preserved and extensive state of
the trousseau, as well as the condition of the doll itself, all
helped contribute to a final price of $36,000 (£22,500) just over
the upper estimate.
The buyer's premium 14%.
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