Hundred-Year-Old Dolls from Russia

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, December 3, 1913: Nothing——-That word I have good use for.

1913-12-37.dThe Schoolboy must be coming home from school since his luncheon is all gone. He wears a cotton suit with a wool coat, and crocheted shoes.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:


It can’t be that bad. Where’s your Christmas cheer?  Maybe you should read the current issue of Ladies Home Journal, there were a couple of articles that made me smile.


Here are some pictures of Christmas Dolls from Russia that were in the December, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal. According to the magazine:

Christmas Dolls from Russia

Most dolls are clothed with the idea of making them pretty, but the dolls on this page were dressed to typify certain kinds of people and are accurate representations. The most interesting things about them is the fact that they were dressed by children in an orphan asylum in far-away Russia, and the money the children earned is their own. They are reproduced courtesy of the Russian Peasant Handicraft Center.

 Ladies Home Journal (December, 1911)

1913-12-37.aThe Russian Gentleman in velvet and gold braid looks very proud, with his fur-trimmed turban, and his dainty kid boots, which were made from someone’s old kid glove.


1913-12-37.bThe Russian Lady is dressed in a satin gown, velvet coat and elaborate headdress.


1913-12-37.cThe Coachman, to make himself quite pompous in the doll world, has stuffed his coat in front with cotton.


1913-12-37.eThe Water-Carrier looks so pretty and warm in her plaid shawl and green coat, beneath which there is a glimpse of a wool dress and a gingham apron. The water-pails have been whittled out of pine.


1913-12-37.fThe Broom-Seller being a poor little lady, is dressed in gingham.

23 Responses

  1. Gorgeous dolls. Your grandmother’s diary entry made me laugh. Some days are just like that!

  2. Oh, I love the pics of the old dolls.
    Poor Grandma; she needs a little Christmas cheer, all right!

  3. Poor Grandma..she sure sounds grumpy and bored! The dolls are so pretty, my favorit is the Real Russian Lady ;0)

  4. This post is especially cute, despite Grandma’s obvious boredom and even a hint of self-pity with this particular day.

  5. Helena’s in the doldrums–I hope she bounces back soon or I’ll have to worry about her! The dolls are very cool–so detailed!

  6. I love the fancy “Real Russian Lady.”

  7. How I would love to have one of those dolls now – especially the Russian Lady! :)

  8. The dolls are so pretty, sad to think of the children living as orphans.

  9. Very special post for me (I have a doll collection). Beautiful. I do wonder if the kids really did get the money though. And the irony of them creating such beautiful dolls to go to others.

  10. The dolls are so beautiful it makes me wonder if children were actually allowed to play with them.

  11. Your Grandmother makes me laugh!

  12. […] “ditto” refers to  a diary entry the previous day which said, “Nothing—That word I have good use […]

  13. These dolls are lovely, especially the detail in the bucket and brooms. I have several Polish dolls, which I treasure, that were passed down through my husband’s family.

  14. ooh! I LOVE these dolls. I’ve been wondering. Have you read ahead in you Grandma’s diary. Does she get wordier with age?

  15. Love the dolls! Blessings, Natalie ;)

  16. Beautiful costumes on the dolls. I wonder how old the children were who decorated them. Wouldn’t it be great to have a few of them today?

  17. How precious! Thank you for sharing.

  18. Weren’t these beautiful dolls ornately dressed by talented children? I wonder if today’s children would be so detailed and creative in today’s style? Thank you for sharing.

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