National Costume Dolls

Peggy Nisbet’s inspiration to first make dolls came from her visits to Quimper, in the Brittany region of France, which she visited immediately after the war.   Here, beautiful hand-made dolls dressed in local national costume could be seen in the shops.  At that time, there was nothing in Britain to compare with these dolls.   National Costume was to be a constant source of Inspiration for Peggy, and between the late ‘50s and 1982, she produced almost 100 different dolls in the “National” series.  

These dolls provide a window back in time; when they were made, the world was a very different place.   As the changing political climate of the post war years has re-drawn national boundaries, some old nations and states have been absorbed or divided up, whilst others have been created, sometimes resurrecting old countries, states, and Kingdoms, in the process.   Different flags flew from many flagpoles then, and some nations were referred to by names we would not recognise today.  

The idea of National Costumes may seem old fashioned, even quaint and curious to us today, and even by the time Peggy Nisbet began making these dolls in the late 50’s, National Costumes were already becoming a thing of the past in many European countries, and were only worn on high days and holidays.   Today, the ubiquitous tee shirt and blue jeans are the International costume of the young, and the fascinating and curious styles worn by many of these dolls are rapidly vanishing, or may even have gone forever.

The listing below is in series number order - not all dolls in the series may be represented, but any gaps will be filled when we can find a decent photograph!   If you can help fill the gaps, please email us!

8th June 2013

Once again, we send our grateful thanks to Alice J, for providing 116 exciting new pictures for the National Dolls gallery.   These pictures include some of the earliest Tower Walk dolls, some real rarities, and colour variations  of many old favourites!

Thank you, Alice!

Please note that many of the dolls in these pictures have facsimile Nisbet tags (in a maroon red colour) to identify them in our collection - (Where still present, the original black tags have been tucked into the dolls' clothing)

For technical reasons, we have had to split the nearly 340 images of National Costume dolls into two galleries, to ensure that their names will appear at the bottom of the frame.

Gallery 1 : N/101 France - Brittany to N/126 Denmark

Gallery 2 : N/127 Iceland to N/197 Canadian Mountie

The doll pictures will auto run as slide shows in the windows above.

Press F5 (function key 5 on your keyboard), to re-start the slide shows.

Alternatively, you may control the slideshows manually – follow the steps below :

  • Place the cursor at the bottom of the window to access thumbnail and navigation control bar
  • Click on the “?” (question mark) symbol (bottom left hand side of the control bar) for a detailed explanation of the controls
  • See a full screen slideshow by clicking on the “Square with Arrow” symbol (2nd from right on the control bar)
  • Use the keyboard arrow keys to move forward and back through the slideshow, as desired
  • Use the “ESC” key to leave full screen mode


31st October 2015

New updates added - We have added a new page on the Isle of Wight dolls, which were produced for the Liliput doll Museum, on the Isle of Wight.   These dolls have mystified us for some time, but an opportunity to do some research through the archives, an email from Graham Munday, (owner of the Lilliput Doll Museum), and an email chat with author and Shallowpool Dolls expert sue Brewer, have allowed a partial reconstruction of their fascinating story.   There are still some gaps in our knowledge, so if you can fill in any of the missing details for us, please do get in touch!

19th September 2015

New updates added - Our thanks to correspondent David H, who has sent us two interesting pictures - The first is of a very rare Nisbet First Doll.   This is the doll that started Peggy Nisbet's dollmaking career, and you can read all about her on this page : dolls/special-collectors-sets-limited-and-signature-editions/SCE-P1953 Replica Edition of the First Nisbet Doll.  David's picture of his original first Nisbet is shown below the article on the replica doll, and below that, is shown a unique 18" porcelain doll that also shows the Queen in Coronation robes, and was used in displays and exhibitions.   This doll is also shown in the book, "The Peggy Nisbet Story".  Other updates added today are the BOAC and BEA dolls, Madam Tussaud Dolls, Wax Dolls, and a Porcelain statuette issued as a tribute to Peter Bull, which is shown under Dolls/Porcelain Dolls/Irish Dresden - Tribute to the Late Peter Bull

12th September 2015

New updates added - Apologies to all our visitors for the long delay in adding some updates and new information - we hope that the items listed below will be of interest!   Many kind thanks to numerous correspondents, for their kind offers of pictues and other information, to fill in the gaps in various galleries :  To Barbara T, for her stunning pictures of H/214 - Queen Elizabeth I, wearing a rubber crown.   Pictures appear in Historical Gallery 1, and in "Know your Nisbets/Headgear/Crowns".   Frank T sent two excellent pictures of Vera Evelyn Samuel, and you can see the pictures and read all about her here - "Porcelain Dolls/Doulton Nisbet".   Penny D has sent in some pictures of her magnificent early P/618 - Robbie Burns - See him in Portrait Dolls Gallery 1.   We have used another of Keith P's pictures in a new gallery just added - "Know your Nisbet/Body shape and pose".   Finally, we have added a new page on Walt Disney dolls, which may come as something of a surprise to many collectors, as the dolls are not typically Nisbet in appearance!


3rd January 2015


Exciting New updates added for 2015 - Correspondent Michael A contacted us last year to ask about his mother's "Beatles" Nisbet dolls - Collectors of long standing may have heard of this almost legendary set of dolls - Thanks to Michael, you can now learn all about them here : /dolls/the-dolls-that-never-were/the-beatles/   

A recent contact from author Ian Price, who writes for the "Fashion Dolls Quarterly" magazine, (, enquired about Nisbet's Christmas themed dolls - We were delighted to assist his researches in compiling this article on Peggy Nisbet's "Legends of Christmas" dolls.   Ian has very kindly allowed us to make a copy of this article available for download - Please go to the Downloads/Miscellaneous/ page, and click on the link to "Styling Santa", by Ian Price, to see the article.



Thank you for stopping by to browse, or for making contact with us - We hope the website will prove to be of use and interest to you!