Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dutch Dolls

Technically these aren't dollhouse dolls unless you have a really big dollhouse, but I wanted to share them anyway. A friend of mine is traveling to the Netherlands on Sunday. He was born there, but has lived in Canada most of his life. He is excited about going back and I am excited for him, as he shares his memories of being a young child in Holland, and speculates what it is like in the 21st century.

So that got me thinking about how I viewed Holland when I was a child growing up here in Canada. These dolls, as stereotypical and possibly insulting to Nederlanders as they may be, sum up my early visions of the Netherlands.

In school we learned about the low counties of the North Atlantic. Windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, Holsteins, cheese, and dykes.  Blue and white dishes, lace caps, aprons, spic and span, and dutch clean. Skating along canals, dutch caps, green fields, reclaimed from the sea. Everything about Holland was bright and wholesome and pretty. Just like these dolls.

So, was it any surprise that when I got to Europe a few years ago I just had to go to the Netherlands? It is as lovely as I expected, though it is firmly in the 21st Century now, and they certainly don't dress like these sweet dolls anymore (although we did see one man in wooden shoes in a country village).

This boy and girl are approximately 15 inches tall, and completely made of felt. I love their painted faces and their colourful costumes. I think they might be from the 1960s or possibly earlier

They have some condition issues, but that is to be expected due to their age. It looks like moths have attached the boy's pants and the back of the girl's left arm. The girl has a rip in her underarm where her stuffing is trying to escape. But these flaws don't detract from the charm of this sweet couple. Her apron is decorated with tulips and he carries a wonderful little felt basket. Perhaps they are going to market, or strolling along the canal, or out gathering tulips. They are just too much fun.

I have listed them on eBay because I have no room for them now. If you would like to have them live at your house have a look.



  1. They are so cute and colorful What do you think the boy doll is thinking? C

  2. Cute dolls! Stereotypical? Yes definitely. Offending? Certainly not.
    After cleaning my house all morning, I just finished eating lunch (bread with dutch cheese)from my blue and white dishes. I look out of my window and see a small canal on which we were skating not even a month ago. Across the road my neighbour (who wears wooden shoes) is planting potatoes and in the distance I see green meadows and a few windmills.
    About 200 yards away from my house my other neighbour's Holsteins are grazing on the spring meadow. It won't be long now before the fields behind my house will be a tapestry of colour from the thousands of tulip bulbs which were planted last fall. I live on land which was reclaimed from the sea, protected by a dike which has its origins in the 12th century.
    You may think I am making this up. Nope! All true. Although the windmills I see from my window are 21st century ones, there is a 17th century one not a mile from my house. Oh and guess what flowers I have in my vase on the table? ...Exactly! ;)

  3. Thank you Josje! What a charming comment. I wish I were going to Holland on Sunday like my friend is. Your description makes me want to be there and see all those lovely things I learned about as a child. I will visit the Netherlands again in the future but this year my traveling is limited to North America. For now I will dream about your beautiful country and look at my pictures from the last trip.