At a time when individual handcrafted items were still more popular than the upstart factory outlets, the toys produced then were more like project kits. A child could assemble and paint the parts provided in the kit, or even cast the parts out of molten metal to begin with. While the finished products would resemble one another, the hands-on process would end in producing a toy both unique and individual. A train set, a ship in a bottle, or figurines cast in lead or iron, would all carry the signature of its amateur maker.
Porcelain dolls in the 19th century would even be custom-made to resemble their owners. The masque of the face would have been painstakingly molded or carved from the porcelain clay, to share the same features of its new owner. Locks of the owner’s hair would even be snipped to make hair for the doll, and the doll’s clothes would be identical to the child’s favorite outfits.
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