Ralph Foster Museum
 

December 2014

Kewpie Doll

Currently on Display: Yes

Such an artist was Rose O’Neill that she conceived the phenomenon known as the Kewpie Doll as it came to her in a dream. The child-like cupid characters were originally conceptualized in a comic strip in Ladies’ Home Journal in December 1909, and they soon gained quick popularity. From illustrations rose paper dolls and from paper dolls rose bisque dolls in the early twentieth century; they were first produced from bisque but eventually celluloid versions began to be produced. In 1949, the first plastic versions of the dolls were produced, followed by rubber and vinyl versions in the 1960s and 1990s.

The Kewpie Doll was so popular that during WWI, before the United States entered the war, the British fleet lifted its embargo against German shipping long enough to allow four shiploads of Kewpies to sail through for Christmas time. The Ralph Foster Museum houses a large collection of O’Neill’s Kewpies, such as this one, on its first floor.

 

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