A ‘parian’ doll is defined as a type of white porcelain doll that is not tinted or colored. Popular doll culture has named fine, untinted porcelain dolls Parians, after the fine marble found on the Greek isle of Paros. They were primarily made in Germany around 1860-1880. We enjoy collecting many types of this matte-finished doll but wanted to round up our top five favorites for you this week.
1. Alice in Wonderland Hairstyle: This doll’s head is named for Lewis Carroll’s curious and whimsical heroine, Alice, named after Alice Liddle, his young friend and muse. The real Alice was a brunette with a bob-style hairdo. The blonde Alice with her hair held in place by a headband is based more on Tenniel’s illustrations for the classic first edition. The Alice Parian is fresh-faced, and unusual in that she is a little girl.
2. Empress Eugenie: This beautiful wife of Napoleon III was the friend of Queen Victoria and inspired fashion throughout her entire life. The doll heads representing her come in a couple of varieties, but the most elaborate include molded snoods, feathers, and gilt details. They are often blondes, which she was not.
3. Swivel Neck Parian Dolls: Glass eyes, decorated and molded collar, pierced ears, molded black comb in her hair: The best Parian dolls have glass eyes and swivel necks, molded flowers or ornament in their hair, elaborate bonnets, or molded collar details.
4. Black haired dolls with Dresden flowers molded in their hair: Parians with black hair are unusual and attractive. The stark contrast of the untinted bisque and their black hair is very appealing. Like all Parians, these come elaborately dressed in fashions from the 1870s and 80s.
5. Parian men: We love all the Parian men, and they come many ways. Some are dressed as clowns or gentlemen with the goatee. Some of these emulated the mustache and goatee of Napoleon III. The so-called Dresden boy with the café au lait molded hair styled with a side part appears with painted eyes or glass eyes.
Bonus: Emma Clear Parian dolls are often called “Queen Louise” after a Prussian royal. Clear was among the first to reproduce good antique dolls, including Parians. She was also famous for her doll repair at her Humpty Dumpty Doll Hospital. Parians with wigs, bonnet-heads, and heads with Stanhopes all earn honorable mentions as unusual examples. So do tiny dollhouse dolls. For more about these aristocratic untinted bisque dolls, see Helen Young, The Complete Book of Doll Making and Collecting, Mary Hillier, Dolls and Doll Makers, Hobbies Magazine, Doll Talk, and John Noble, A Treasury of Beautiful Dolls.
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