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c. 1940s - 1950s

The undeniable creepiness of vintage doll factories

Before computerized machinery, someone was trimming your doll's eyelashes with nail scissors

circa 1955: A young boy and girl inspecting dolls' heads at the Ideal Toy Company in Jamaica, Long Island, USA. The company is one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world. (Photo by Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images)

There’s something a little creepy about old dolls. Scratch that, there’s something massively disturbing about old dolls. They inhabit the ancient uncanny valley – they almost look like today’s dolls, but there’s something slightly off. They embody the way the past thought about its childhood.

But however massively disturbed you may find vintage dolls, they are as nothing compared to the factories in which the dolls were created.

Today, computerized machinery spits out multi-colored action figures, male and female, to tie-in with the latest blockbuster movie.

Be thankful for this – because 70 years ago, someone was trimming your doll’s eyelashes with nail scissors.

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While her head was hung out to dry.

1947
Dolls’ heads in a doll factory waiting to dry
Merlyn Severn / Picture Post / Getty Images
1949
A worker trims the eyelashes on a pair of doll’s eyes at a factory in Southampton, England, which specialises in the manufacture of doll parts.
William Vanderson / Fox Photos / Getty Images
1951
The arms, heads and torsos of a toy doll in an industrial mold at the factory of Cascelloid Ltd., a toy manufacturer in Leicester, England.
Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis / Getty Images
1950s
A phalanx of doll bodies.
Keystone-France / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images
1950
A row of dolls heads in a factory in Germany
FPG / Getty Images
1950s
A Parisian doll factory
Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images
1951
In the factory of Cascelloid Limited, the limbs of the then-famous Patsy doll are hanging up to dry
Kurt Hutton / Picture Post / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
1955
A young boy and girl inspecting dolls’ heads at the Ideal Toy Company in Jamaica, Long Island, USA. The company was one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world.
Orlando / Three Lions / Getty Images
1955
A young boy and girl watching workers putting eyes into dolls’ heads as they pass along a conveyor belt at the Ideal Toy Company
Orlando / Three Lions / Getty Images
1955
A young girl laughs with delight at the sight of so many dolls’ heads at the Ideal Toy Company
Orlando / Three Lions / Getty Images

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