For decades, it has made no sense to me that common commercial paper dolls usually created as branded products from licensed characters attract more attention from collectors than folk art, handmade versions which are MUCH scarcer and more beautiful. Mark it up to marketing, I guess...after all, a child who watches 24 hours of television a day is going to prefer the latest Disney creation more than a doll in a homemade burlap sack, and that seems to be a preference which stays with us until adulthood and beyond, unfortunately. I've always much preferred the charming handmade versions children created when the money was short and even paper scarce. This little group of fairies was found in a pile of ephemera in an antique mall for one dollar. Made by a little girl, dating probably to the 1920's or earlier, the whole lot was packed into a very old envelope, browned with age, and reading in script "Fairyland" "SAVE" which someone did. Each is only a few inches tall, and if you click to enlarge they'll be bigger than they should be, but go ahead.
A few years ago my giant collection of vintage handmade and homemade paper dolls was used to illustrate what is, to this day, still the best essay and investigation in to the handmade doll. Since most attention in the toy literature has been devoted to commercial toys, including those which were premiums in products and provided in newspapers...very little published material on the folk art paper doll exists. The much missed magazine FOLK ART which used to be published by the American Museum of Folk Art has a back issue department and the Francine Kirsch article "Costumed by Hand" (along with many pages of illustrations which make these little fairies look even more primitive than they are) is in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue. After the article appeared, the collection was dispersed, but I still can't pass a set by.
Handmade set of Paper Doll Fairies, circa 1920. Collection Jim Linderman