The Victorian era is the first time that dolls prams came into popular use as children’s toys. In Victorian times, prams were expensive and were seen as a status symbol for wealthy families. Queen Victoria herself was famous for using prams for her children. Status symbols for adults soon become status symbols for children and so miniature versions of the real thing were made up for children of wealthy families and the popularity of the doll’s pram began.
There were three main styles of prams in Victorian times – The Mailcart, evolved from handcarts with large wheels and a long handle; The Victoria, named after Queen Victoria herself which had three wheels and a seat; and the Carriage Pram which were based on full-size horse drawn carriages.
Wealthy Victorian families commissioned their carriage makers to build prams for their children. These original prams had a harness attached so that ponies could pull them along. Eventually the pram style evolved so that people could push them and the design became lighter and easier to maneuver. One of the first pram companies in the uk was the Silver Cross prams company.
The Victoria pram with three wheels was popular for a long time as the law at the time classified any four-wheel vehicle as a road vehicle and therefore four-wheel prams were not allowed to be pushed on pavements! Eventually this law was phased out and the more practical four-wheel designs became the norm.
Even modern toy prams today are based on Victorian designs for their attractive look. Victorian prams are not the most practical models for today’s parents but this does not really matter for a dolls pram! There are many beautiful wicker dolls prams on the market that follow the style of Victorian designs and look beautiful in a little girls bedroom or as a display for antique dolls.
Original Victorian doll prams are highly collectible and can reach a high price at auction if they are in good condition. Some people have been lucky enough to have a Victorian doll pram that has been passed down through the generations as a family heirloom.