In addition to the quilts we saw last week, Hostetler’s in Conewango Valley in New York sells faceless handmade dolls.
Here’s a fancier version of the Amish doll which Tom notes must be destined for English buyers.
The faceless doll is another item iconic of the Amish. Truth be told I haven’t seen too many of them in the Amish homes I’ve been in. It’s possible I just haven’t been paying attention, but I just couldn’t say how popular dolls in general are among Amish children.
Amish dolls have long been a popular tourist item however, and as we can see by the lower photo, like Amish quilts they have morphed to appeal to an English consumer market.
You can also find Amish-made dolls in a variety of dresses online at Amish Workshops: Amish Dolls. You’ll notice the ones at the Amish Workshops link are of a traditional style but differ somewhat from the top photo.
Amish Crossings had a post March 21, 2012 about Amish dolls made in China that are sold in tourist shops in large Amish settlements. I am not sure why you would shop at a tourist trap instead of finding an Amish shop. Every Amish home I have been in with small children has a faceless doll. The Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend I go to the benefit auction in Cherry Creek NY and try to buy Amish dolls and then give them to small children in the crowd.
I love the Amish Dolls and have been looking to get one if I could find it in a purple dress. Is there anyway you might be able to find me one? I will gladly pay. You can reach me at email@example.com
Not sure if you are still interested , but I saw this on the web.
This lady looks like she makes cutom amish dolls. I don’t know her but you might try it.
Do you still want a doll?
I make the dolls and I would be happy to make you one in a purple dress. They are 25$ plus shipping.
I’ve never seen an Amish child playing with one of these dolls, nor have I seen one in his or her house. I have wondered if it is a myth, of sorts. Perhaps it’s because Amish children usually have REAL babies to play with:)
The first “Amish” Doll that I got for my collection I found out was made in China when I got it home. The second set I bought at someone’s garage sale and before I bought I looked it over and there is a tag that says made by a ladies name from Intercourse, Pa. The three lady Amish dolls I bought from a lady that bought them in Pa. Each doll has a made by with a ladies name on it and the town of Pa it was made. None of my dolls have faces on them. So these dolls still must be made, but I learned to be carefull before you buy them. I still have the one made in China.
I never noticed faceless dolls in the past but just before Christmas I went to a local craft show where at least one Amish family was selling baskets. At another table I saw handmade faceless dolls but they were at the table of a local English lady and I assume they were made by her. Next time I see her, I’ll ask.
Love those little Amish Dolls
I love those little Amish Dolls. Is there a place on the internet that you can buy them.
has Amish dolls for sale on the internet, and also doll furniture.
I have seen them more in “English” shops in and around the Arthur area or in craft shops not Amish owned, but have not seen them in Amish owned shops.
PS. I think the faceless is because Amish do not like their picture taken or the focus drawn to themselves.
I have an Amish lady doll who sits on a shelf in my sewing/guest room. My eldest daughter thinks she is weird because she does not have a face, but I love her, she is holding as basket of scrap fabric and a tiny pair of wire spectacles on the top of the fabric. The label under her clothes confirm she was made in Shipshewana. I would love a boy doll to match but doubt I will ever get back to Shipshewana to buy one.
A cute Amish boy doll is for sale at http://www.amishwares.com, under “Quilts and More – Traditional Hand Made.”
I have two faceless dolls, “brother and sister,” that I purchased from a shop called Peaceful Valley outside of Strasburg, PA. They have several locations around Lancaster County. They offer beautiful handcrafted furniture, home decor items, books, etc. My dolls are beautifully made by hand and with love. They sit on their special perch in my dining room on top of my sideboard. I have named them Rebecca and Amos. I have heard that little Amish girls play with “English” baby dolls, I’m sure dressed in clothing made by their mother’s or maybe they sew them themselves?
I have never heard of a little Amish girl that didn’t love playing with dolls. There are communities where only faceless dolls are allowed while others use “English” dolls with hair removed and dressed in Amish clothes, and still others where they simply enjoy their dolls the way they were purchased without having to “Amishify” them first.
I make and sell Amish dolls. I am not Amish, but I am Plain. Personally, I think the lack of facial features is only because embroidering or appliquing a face is time-consuming.I made the first doll for our granddaughter, and friends ordered others.Mine are very traditional in dress. I make the clothes like real Amish children’s clothes. Many have a simplified version.
hi would be interested in your dolls do you have a website
did you find your dolls?
I have some for sale at Etsy.com. my shop is called DollsByStacieB
Plain faced dolls
Do you still make these? I couldnt find a shop with that title on etsy.
Hello I am 62 years old and live in New Zealand We do not have any Amish family’s here , But recently I have taken a shine to the simple way the Amish live ,I mke my granddaughters what we call rag dolls , I would love to get them a Amish doll each , Can you send me some photos and prices of your dolls please including postage to New Zealand
I’m really taken with Tom’s generosity, purchasing, then handing out the faceless dolls to children at the benefit auction in New York. I wish I were a kid in that crowd! What a wonderful thing to do! 🙂
I think the facelessness (from what I’ve read) has to do with being too much of an “individual” in the Amish culture which could be a sign of pridefulness, since they center their lives around God and community, not the individual.
I don’t have a faceless doll yet, but have seen them online and will likely buy one or two, one of these days.
I agree that one should be aware of the place of origin of any souvenir, no matter where you may travel. It’s a bummer that you can’t find much made in the U.S.A. IN the U.S.A.!!!
I would like more information on your Amish Dolls. I have somewhat of a collection of them. I went to your blog and see you are moving so when you get moved and get a chance, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a few amish friends and their children play with regular baby dolls with faes on them they also play with stuff animals. the amish dolls that are in Holmes county are from china it tells you right on thr tag.
My mother grew up Amish in northern Indiana in the 1930s, and she had a homemade faceless doll. In the 1960s in the same community, we Amish children had store-bought dolls with eyes that opened and closed. We had a magic bottle where the milk disappeared, a doll cradle, a homemade doll quilt, and took our doll to school. We also dressed our cats in doll clothes!
My daughter has two faceless amish dolls. We bought them both in Bird-in-Hand, PA. One has the initials of the person who made it on it and the other we bought recently at a quilt shop (amish/ mennonite owned). My daughter had named the first one Hannah No-Face but changed her name recently to Laura so she could be the little sister of her new larger doll she named Mary. We read Little House in the Big Woods last summer. She loves them.
Imagine this-one of my friends came from an Amish family. She opened up a booth at a flea market in Hartville OH, and sold Amish products, childrens games, etc-in fact, I did buy a cute little boy & girl Amish doll set from her (I never checked the tags but will when I log off, LOL) but anyway, she made Amish clothes for Barbies-I have to admit, seeing a Barbie dress Amish somehow, perplexed me. DId I like it? not sure-actually, covering Barbie was a good idea, repentance from immodest dress a good idea!
Anyway, I am drawn to dolls, especially rag dolls, & love my AMish especially but they are in our guest room & I find the guests don’t care for the plain faces looking at them (whatever that means). But I was told OH Amish dolls have plain faces, PA do not-
on a tour we were on.
Our Amish Dolls
Hello everyone! Yes, we have genuine Amish dolls at Amish Workshops; you can visit this link to see them: http://bit.ly/ovM6BW. Our dolls are made by our very own Viola, who authors the Ask Viola column on AmishWorkshops.com. Viola is Old Order Amish and lives in the St. Joseph County, Michigan area. She sews the bodies from a pattern, and she and her mother make each dress using a foot-treadle sewing machine. This year we plan to also include a boy version of the doll, along with more dress styles and capes.
Sorry, but as much as I love the Amish and their ways, can’t say I like these faceless dolls or the reasoning behind them. I understand their not wanting individualism because it can lead to pridefulness, but the fact is that God made us with a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth on our face, so the least they could do is just make the face as plain and neutral as possible, instead of just this ” blank nothing ” that doesn’t even mimick reality.
Sorry, just my opinion……
Faceless dolls with hair???
Would it be less authentic to put hair on a faceless doll if it is put up the way the Amish wear their hair. I purchased a pattern for rhem from Friends Pattern site. It is hard to see the Kapp without hair. Do the children wear white or black aprons, or both? I am very pleased withy pattern and the simplicity of the pattern to assemble.
My same-age Amish friend had one of these when we were little. I don’t remember it being quite that big, but maybe that differs among communities? Anyway when I was an older child, living in another state, I got one of my own from a store down the road from me which specialized in quality country furniture and decor. They had boy and girl dolls, but I only got the girl one. I haven’t seen it in ages, but hopefully it is still somewhere among the boxes in the attic… I did love that doll!
Oh and another reason for the facelessness, besides the avoidance of individualism, is the avoidance of creating standards of “beauty.” We see with English dolls how certain faces and shapes give children the message that this is how they’re supposed to look, this is the ideal. Big eyes, pouty pink lips, a tiny nose, blush, long eyelashes, whatever. From Bratz to Barbie…
(Leaves me wondering, couldn’t they use a simple line for a mouth and dots for eyes? But that’s not what they chose to do!)
Another reason could be that God is not a God that shows preference from person to person