Making the Doll Bodies

Rosebud doll dressed as Queen Elizabeth I - Possibly an early Nisbet example

In the early days, the doll's bodies were bought in for dressing from a manufacturer named "Rosebud".   These were small dolls with childish faces, and were popular and suitable for dressing in simple costume.

But Peggy wanted to produce her own 7" tall body for all her models.   (The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation doll had a specially made china bisque figure)   In the 1950s, suitable materials and their moulding processes were still in their infancy.   She experimented with cold setting resins, rubber solutions and plastics.   Early trials proved unsuccessful, so Peggy had to continue to buy in the "Rosebud" dolls.

Then, in 1954 Peggy was in contact with Deans Rag Book Co., who wanted to help Peggy with the development and production of the dolls' bodies.   They experimented with different products and found that latex worked very well.   She was also in contact with a local artist, John Lewin, who worked on moulding dolls.   These had excellent features, were easy to handle, and the faces were easy to paint.   The arms, which were moulded separately, had metal hooks which were used to tie them together through the body with elastic bands.   Unfortunately the resin contained a high level of acid, which caused the elastic bands to perish, and attacked the dress material.   Again, Peggy returned to using the "Rosebud" dolls.

Eventually the company turned to using a high impact injection moulded polystyrene. The whole manufacturing process required investment in standardised jigs, formers, cutters, punches and presses.   But, most importantly, this new process was successful, and all future doll bodies were to be made in this way, with faces then sprayed before being hand painted.

Further experimenting led to the production of a superior range of "Portrait Models", comprising famous persons with their specific recognisable facial features and, particularly for the men, rather taller, some with a bulkier body shape ‑ Henry VIII and Sir Winston Churchill shared the same torso!


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!