What Are Peg Dolls?

peg dolls

Peg dolls are small wooden dolls that have been around for many years. They have undergone minor changes over the years but they remained popular among parents and kids because they lend themselves to storytelling and imaginative play. They are widely available and you can buy them at physical toy stores or online.

The peg dolls you buy online either come painted or unpainted. Little kids are attracted to light so most of the painted peg dolls you find online are brightly-coloured. They are fantastic fantastic early learning tools to teach children basic colours and numeracy.

Unpainted peg dolls are popular among hobbyists who are into arts and crafts. They are great for DIY projects and painting them make for a good bonding opportunity between parent and child. Supplies like paint brushes and acrylic paint are available at many stores so you should not have a problem getting started with your peg doll project.

Wooden peg dolls are easy and fun to make. You can buy unpainted peg dolls and paint them yourself or use a wooden peg dolly and make a peg doll from scratch. You can use scrap fabrics from old clothes for doll clothing and pipe cleaners for arms.

Brief History

The history of peg dolls is surprisingly sparse considering that it has been around for more than a century. According to a few resources, they are a type of doll from Germany and originated from Val Gardena or Gröden, a region in Northern Italy. They were sold in England in the 1800s and were called Dutch Dolls on the account that they reached England via Holland. These dolls were made from wood and featured wood joints in the arms and legs. Some of these peg dolls featured locked arms and legs where when one leg is moved the other follows. They were particularly popular among poor families because they were sold undressed which allowed children to make their own clothing from discarded and unwanted scraps of fabric. It has been recorded that Queen Victoria had them when she was younger. She played with them and dressed them with outfits depending on the last play she saw.

During 19th century Victorian England, tuck comb dolls became popular. They were named after their carved hair comb and considered a special type of peg wooden doll. Much like traditional peg wooden dolls, their joints were fastened by pegs which made them movable. Children during this era added little trinkets and other embellishments and turned them into what were known as pedlar dolls.

Peg wooden dolls’ popularity decreased after World War 2 when wood, the main material for peg dolls, were difficult to obtain. There were even laws in some parts of Europe which prevented felling trees. Due to scarcity of resources, most families used everyday objects they found in and outside of their homes as materials to make toys. And one such item was the wooden dolly peg. Back then, they were used for hanging clothes but nowadays they are mostly used for arts and crafts.


Next Up: How to Paint a Peg Doll