Joel Ellis and the Cooperative Manufacturing Company, a collaborative of craftsmen in Springfield, Vermont, patented this wooden doll in 1873. Using local maple, Ellis created a uniquely jointed doll. Projections on the doll's body fit into slots on its arms and legs. Serving as pivots, steel pins held these mortise-and-tenon joints together. Friction in the joints allowed the doll's limbs and body to stay in any desired position. Unlike soft-bodied dolls of the time, the "Springfield Woodens" could even stand on their heads! This design, fascinating to children, led advertisers to declare that the "cost and trouble of dressing" the doll could be avoided. True to Victorian-era conventions, women, who made up one-third of the 50-60 employees, painted the doll's features and cast-iron hands and feet, while only men operated the complex lathes and other machinery. Ellis stopped making the dolls after one year, and Vermont Novelty Works, another Springfield firm, subsequently manufactured them under Ellis's patent until 1893.


  • Title: Doll
  • Creator: Vermont Novelty Works
  • Date Created: 1873
  • Location: Springfield, VT
  • Type: Dolls from the Nineteenth Century
  • Medium: wood, metal
  • Object ID: 78.1163

Get the app

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


Google apps