State Library of South Australia

Victorian piano doll

This exquisite Victorian 'piano doll', circa 1890s, is part of the State Library's Children's Literature Research Collection (CLRC). Not strictly a child's toy, it is rather a decoration for a piano or ladies dressing table.

Victorian piano doll CLRC Collection Box 51
Victorian piano doll, CLRC Collection, Box 51

The lace is said to be actual fine German lace, dipped in porcelain, and one can only imagine the skill with which this needed to be done. In Victorian times pianos were often draped with shawls, needing something to hold the fabric in place, and so piano dolls were created. Other examples include rosy-cheeked cupids and reclining figures of children, also held in the CLRC.

It is often assumed that small or miniature things were intended for children, though such pieces as this were actually produced as collectibles for ladies, perhaps gifts among one-another and they would not have been played with by children. Perhaps also, little things remind us of a time gone by when we were small and appreciated small items which were child-size and easy to handle for small fingers.

This piece elicited such oohs and aahs from State Library staff that we thought you would like to see it too.

Please contact the CLRC curator, Denise Chapman (82077250) if you would like to see this item (by appointment).

Story by: Denise Chapman

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