Peg Dolls

Dolls were known as 'toy babies' until the 18th century when the word 'doll' - short for Dorothy - first came into use. They were made of clay, wood, rags, bones and even ivory and wax in an attempt to make them as life like as possible. In the 17th and 18th century children played with Dutch dolls called 'Flanders babies'. In America these dolls were called peg dolls although they were not made out of pegs.

During the 19th century the Victorians used to make some of their peg dolls into pedlar dolls adding little trinkets to the finished doll when they could. The tradition of making peg dolls out of wooden clothes pegs comes from a time when people had little money to spend on toys. When toymaking stopped during World War 2, children would make toys from items they found in and outside their homes.

Suggested activity: Make a peg doll

You will need:

  • A wooden dolly peg
  • A pipe cleaner
  • Scraps of material and wool
  • Scissors, glue, pen

Dress the dolly peg with the material as you like. Wind the middle of the pipe cleaner around just below the neck of the peg and twist firmly at the back. Spread the ends - the arms - sideways. Bend the points under to make 'hands'. Glue the wool onto the head. Draw a face.