Collectible Doll Brands: The History of Kewpie Dolls

If you are a doll collector, you are most likely familiar with Kewpie Dolls. In fact, these collector items are so popular that people tattoo these doll designs onto their bodies. Sometimes the most popular doll designs are simple, which is definitely the beauty of Kewpie Dolls. Today, we would like to explore the unique history behind Kewpie Dolls.

Rose O’Neill

The inception of Kewpie Dolls began with a talented illustrator, Rose O’Neill. First appearing as an illustration in Ladies Home Journal, Kewpie represented the alter ego of Cupid. Although Cupid normally got people in trouble regarding love, Kewpie got people out of trouble instead. People fell in love with Kewpie illustrations, and soon a series of paper dolls known as Kewpie Kutouts were manufactured. These double-sided paper dolls featured short stories about Kewpie on one of the sides. Once the dolls were produced, Kewpie comics were released into the public. People loved these paper dolls and comic strips so much that they wrote letters to O’Neill begging her to make Kewpie dolls for their children.

Early Kewpie Dolls

In 1911, O’Neill hired a sculptor from the Pratt Art Institute, Joseph Kallus, to create the first Kewpie Doll using bisque. Later on, the dolls were designed using celluloid instead, and O’Neil traveled to Germany to sign a contract with a doll manufacturer to produce Kewpie Dolls.

Social Consciousness

Not only was Rose O’Neill strong supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, but she also insisted that the dolls were affordable while still retaining a high-quality design. Hopeful that children from all different social backgrounds could enjoy her dolls, her celluloid dolls were made out of camphor, dyes, and nitrocellulose.

Original Kewpie Dolls

Kewpie Dolls shot to success immediately, making Rose O’Neill a millionaire. The original Kewpie Dolls featured an upright position with their hands outstretched at their sides. Some of the dolls featured wings while others remained wingless, and many of them had red hearts painted on their chests.

Kewpie Goes On

Following the death of Rose O’Neill in 1944, Kewpie Dolls continued their production of dolls. They also expanded their line to include figurines, postcards, doll patterns, dishes, and even perfume dispensers. In 1969, plastic and rubber Kewpie Dolls replaced the celluloid dolls.


1983 was a big year for Kewpie Dolls because Jesco Toy Company bought the company and began manufacturing limited-edition Kewpie Dolls. These high-quality collectible dolls proved to be extremely successful.

Our Kewpie Dolls

We’re big fans of the beloved doll line at Samantha’s Collectible Dolls & Bears. Our wide inventory of Kewpie Dolls is quite varied, so there’s something for every type of doll collector. If you are a fan of cats, you will love our Kitty Kat Kewpie Doll, which features a Kewpie dressed as a cat trick-or-treating. The more patriotic types might like our Statue of Liberty Kewpie Doll, dressed as Lady Liberty herself. If you are a fan of NASCAR races, you just might fall in love with our Winner’s Circle Kewpie Doll. This mischievous little guy is certainly a winner in our heart!

Even if you aren’t a fan of Kewpie Dolls, we feature a huge selection of other collectible doll brands at Samantha’s Collectible Dolls & Bears. Shop our inventory today for the most exquisite collector’s items available.