We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Composition Dolls?

By Katharine Swan
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Composition dolls began to replace porcelain and bisque dolls in the American market during the early part of the 20th century. This transition took place because of two different factors. First, because of World War I, Americans stopped buying imported German dolls, which enabled dolls from other places to make their entrance. Second, this type of doll became preferable because they were much less expensive and much less likely to break than bisque dolls.

Due to these factors, composition dolls became very popular in America starting in the 1920s. In the late 1940s, the development of hard plastic as a doll manufacturing material began to phase out the material. Hard plastic eventually pushed composition out of the market in the 1950s, simply because hard plastic was even more durable.

Composition dolls were made of a mixture of wood pulp and glue, which was formed using molds and allowed to harden. The dolls were then painted with a thick layer of flesh-colored paint. On top of the flesh paint were painted features, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and lips, and blush on the cheeks, the backs of the hands, elbows, and knees. A layer of sealant or varnish was painted over this to protect the features and seal the composition.

Much more durable than their predecessors, composition dolls could withstand much more playwear. They sometimes had molded hair, which meant that the head mold was simply shaped and painted to resemble hair; others had glued-on wigs made of mohair. The dolls were dressed in stylish outfits that often showed an impressive degree of detail. Most were created in the image of babies or small children. Certain storybook characters, such as Scarlett O'Hara and the characters of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, were also sold, and Shirley Temple dolls were particularly popular.

Although composition dolls are not as fragile as bisque dolls, they still show age and wear. They tend to crack or break with excessive use. Also, over time and under changing conditions, such as humidity and temperature, the outer layer of paint can develop fine surface cracks, called crazing. Crazing can occur only in certain areas, or it can spread to every part of the doll's body. In extreme cases, the paint can flake off, baring the composition underneath.

Because of the vulnerability of the materials, composition dolls require special care in order to preserve their beauty. These dolls should never be stored in a place that suffers extreme temperatures or carries a danger of flooding. Care should also be taken to pack them with tissue paper. They should never be encased in plastic, since the inability of plastic to breathe will result in retained moisture and possibly mold damage or rot.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon4010 — On Sep 28, 2007

What or how would one categorize a doll made of our modern day liguied slips that the manufacturers are calling composition? Are these "modern" composition?

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.