Child’s Christmas present from 1925 safely stored in Goulbourn Museum’s collection

By Jennifer Adams

This doll was given to a little girl as a Christmas present in 1925. Just over six decades later, in 1991, it was donated to the Goulbourn Museum and has resided in our collection ever since.

Many of you may recognize this doll from our Museum banner at City Hall. It was chosen, along with two other artefacts, to represent our family-friendly site. Even though her paint is peeling and her face is cracked and chipped, this doll’s ability to represent a much loved pastime of many little girls cannot be overlooked.

The mid-1920s in Canada was a time of great prosperity for some, but for others it was a time of poverty. Many families did not have the money to buy their children toys and some children worked so hard in the home and fields that there was not much time for playing. More often than not, if a girl did receive a doll it was on a special occasion like Christmas.  Because a child would usually only receive one doll during her childhood, (if they received one at all), she would take extra special care of it. It not only had to last the rest of her childhood but there was also the hope of passing it down to her future daughter too.

This toy, known as a composition doll, reached the height of its popularity in the 1920s -1940s. The heads, and sometimes the limbs, of composition dolls were molded out of sawdust mixed with glue. Their heads were easier to manufacture and less likely to break when played with compared to porcelain dolls. Naturally, these American-made dolls gained popularity and German porcelain doll making companies lost favour.
The decades have taken their toll on this doll but like many women who can recall having a favourite doll, this one would have been loved and cherished by a little girl beginning on Christmas morning, 1925.

Question: At the height of the composition doll’s popularity, what famous person’s look-a-like doll was the most sought after? 

Answer:  Shirley Temple.



Goulbourn Museum

Goulbourn Museum