History of dolls shows they've come a long way, baby
The origin of the word doll comes from eidolon, which in Greek means idol.In ancient societies, dolls were made for religious purposes. In Christianity they were routinely used for creches at Christmastime. The most famous were from Naples, Italy, where the birth of Christ was traditionally re-created in miniature.

About 1450, dolls also began to be used as children's playthings.Early dolls lacked polish and were made from clay, stone, bone or wood. By the mid-1700s, dolls had become commonplace; by the 1800s, dollmaking had graduated from a cottage craft to an industry produced under factory conditions in Germany, France and England.
In the mid-1800x, dolls were made from materials such as wood, composition (a mixture of pulped wood), porcelain, wax and cloth.

Dolls went high-tech in the 1840s when the "pull" doll was invented. Users could open or close its eyes by pulling a wire that ran under clothing through the neck into the head. Later methods used lead weights attached to the backs of the eyes.

Doll-making became so important that examples from many countries were exhibited at the first World's Fair. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London's Crystal Palace that touted the advances created by the Industrial Revolution exhibited the latest creations.

Dressel and Schilling from Germany were esteemed for dolls with delicate porcelain heads, and the famous French company Jumeau created mechanical dolls that could speak. Savvy English doll-maker Augusta Montana created tykes resembling Queen Victoria's children.

In the early 1800s, American dolls were less sophisticated than European models. U.S. makers were informally trained and used rustic materials such as wood, clothespins or rags.

But Yankee ingenuity caught up with European advances. In 1855, Benjamin Lee of New York made the first rubber doll, and a decade later another clever American crafted a celluloid doll.

By the late 1800s in Europe and America, dolls lavishly reflected the Victorian lifestyle. They came beautifully detailed with human hair and clothed in elaborate costumes. Their haute couture included long flowing skirts with bustles and bodices encased in colorful silks or satins and lace embellishments.

One particular doll conceived by a Yankee has brought endless joy - and legendary status to its namesake. The original IdealToy Co. introduced in the early 1900s a charming stuffed doll that was a later version of 1800s rag dolls. If Theodore Roosevelt had never been president, he still would be a household name thanks to those cuddly teddy bears named in his honor.

Before 1900, dolls usually depicted girls or young women.

The novel concept of a doll depicting a baby emerged in the United States around World War I. Grace Putnam Storey used a living baby for her model, and Baby-lo was a hit. This led in the 1930s to using movie star Shirley Temple and the Canadian
Dionne quintuplets as subjects.

Then doll history repeated itself. Just as in the previous century when royal children had been models for shrewd toy makers, so was the future Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. In the days when the princess was known as Lillibet, her replica was marketed complete with her nickname.

Plastic in the early 20th century revolutionized doll-making. Dydee was an early plastic model that could drink her bottle and wet her diapers.

Then the doll stork delivered the more lifelike Tiny Tears that became immensely popular.

Probably the most famous doll is Barbie, who made her debut in 1958. The goddess became so successful that Mattel Toys marketed a boyfriend, Ken.

Marks on dolls are usually found on the rear of the head, neck, or on the back. They help identify maker and age.

Warman's Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide (Krause, $19.99) offers information and price ranges.-

Columbus Dispatch 2004