Dolls have been around since the dawn of human civilization, and have been fashioned from a vast array of materials, ranging from stone, clay, wood, bone, cloth and paper, to porcelain, china, rubber and plastic.
While dolls have traditionally been toys for children, they are also collected by adults, for their nostalgic value, beauty, historical importance or financial value.
Archaeological evidence places dolls as foremost candidate for oldest known toy, having been found in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BC. Dolls with movable limbs and removable clothing date back to 200 BCE.
Repair and restoration of antique and other dolls is carried out at doll hospitals, many of which have been operating for decades.
Antique dolls have become collector’s items. Nineteenth-century bisque dolls made by French manufacturers such as Bru and Jumeau may be worth almost $22,000 today.
In Japan, the Hina-matsuri (雛祭り Doll Festival), is held on March 3, the third day of the third month. Platforms with a red hi-mōsen are used to display a set of ornamental dolls (雛人形 hina-ningyō) representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.
Museums were built for dolls too. For example: Jeju Teddy Bear Museum, Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art and St. Petersburg Doll Museum.