doll | doll clothes: 7-inch Blonde Bild Lilli

O. M. Hausser/Elastolin1955

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play
Rochester , United States

In the 1950s, German manufacturer Hausser-Elastolin first marketed the Bild Lilli doll to promote the somewhat saucy comic-strip character featured in a Hamburg newspaper, the "Bild-Zeitburg." The doll appeared in tobacco stores and other shops with male customers, and it became popular as a kind of gag gift for a man of the world. By the last years of the 1950s, however, German girls used the Lilli doll for play, and the manufacturer realized that it could increase sales by marketing the doll, and additional clothing for it, to young ladies looking for a fashion doll. The doll's popularity grew, and toy companies in Europe and the United States made their own variations of Lilli. When Mattel's executive Ruth Handler traveled to Europe with her family in 1956, she saw in Lilli exactly the fashion doll she had been trying to get her company's designers to produce for American girls. Handler purchased examples of Lilli to take back to Mattel's artists. Mattel introduced its Barbie doll to the world in 1959. Barbie, of course, went on to become a phenonmenal success for Mattel, and she remains a popular play doll more than 50 years later.


  • Title: doll | doll clothes: 7-inch Blonde Bild Lilli
  • Creator: O. M. Hausser/Elastolin
  • Date Created: 1955
  • Location: Neustadt, Germany
  • Subject Keywords: Bild Lilli, Barbie
  • Type: Dolls from the Fifties and Sixties, Fashion Dolls
  • Medium: hard plastic, vinyl, synthetic hair, fabric

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps