During the late Middle Ages, dolls served as royal luxuries, ornamental gifts and fashion representatives.
While the courts dominated the cultural life of Europe, dolls belonged to the favorite presents made by or to royalty. Dressed up as elaborately and richly as possible, they were representative of the fashion-conscious spirit of epochs such as baroque, rococo and empire. Also, they had the important task that is now fulfilled by our modern fashion magazines. A lady of nobility, eager to know about the latest trends and newest styles, would order a doll dressed by a famous fashion designer. Those splendid little 'ladies of fashion' are probably the most instructive tools for anyone interested in the history of costumes. So, we understand that the 'fashion dolls' were not meant to be playthings for little girls. Possibly some mothers gave them to their children after their dress was no longer considered dernier cri (latest style). It is said that most of them became ornamental exhibits in salons and reception halls.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the preferred dolls were miniature royalties-- princes and princesses in glamorous outfits. These were followed by those of all types of professions; ballet dancers in tulle and lace, brides and nuns, judges, doctors and nurses, kitchen chefs, chimney cleaners with a pail, and later sportsmen, soldiers, sailors, famous people, etc. In addition, one favorite doll has outlived all the others: the baby doll.
What's it worth? Take a look at this Victorian Doll price guide: sold listings for a value indication.