Are you afraid of dolls?

There’s only one thing that never fails to scare us around Halloween…dolls!  This is actually called pediophobia, a type of automatonophobia, which is the fear of humanoid figures.  Basically, dolls are scary because they remind us of…us!  In any case,  Heritage Park and the Carriage Barn Museum have some on display for people to get their thrill.

This doll, in particular, was donated by Grace Hoffman on May 5th, 1986. Hoffman was a resident here in Santa Fe Springs and generously contributed this piece to our permanent collection.  The doll is made with a soft cloth body and white porcelain head, arms, and legs. As you can see, the doll’s gaze is pointed right and the hair is cut short and styled in waves. The doll is wearing a white cloth dress with ¾ bell sleeves. She stands approximately one foot high.

Dolls go back as far in time as you can imagine, as there have always been children needing entertainment and people needing things to collect! This specific doll was most likely made in Germany between 1840 and 1880. Though this doll has painted hair, some dolls in this style later received wigs either made from human hair or mohair (i.e. the hair of an Angora goat).  These first dolls were supposed to represent grown up women in the fashions of the time period.  Only children from wealthy parents had dolls.  Of course, that’s all changed today. Now many people can enjoy dolls, although some remain expensive collectors’ items.

According to the 2018 Guinness Book of World Records , the largest porcelain doll lives in Jiangxi, China.  She is 5 feet and 7.7 inches tall.  Wang Chu and Deng Jiagi are the two responsible for her creation.

Additionally, the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records names Bettina Dorfmann as the owner of the largest doll collection in the world, which contains over 15,000 Barbie dolls. This record remains unbeaten.

Barbie dolls are, as the name implies, still dolls, but arguably not as creepy as the porcelain ones.  Probably because we have all owned one or two in our lifetimes.  But there are some dolls that are rumored to be haunted – most notably Robert the doll, who “lives” in the East Martello Museum and has quite a frightening history.  Another doll, Annabelle, is a Raggedy Ann doll who “lives” in the Warren Occult Museum and her history almost beats Robert’s in pure scare factor.  So much so that there are several movies of the same name.

Will the Heritage Park Museum dolls gain the same sort of haunted fame? Are they really watching you?  You’ll have to stop in and make sure…on October 31st, if you dare!


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